Notice the Habits and Tendencies

February 10, 2010

Photo Tips

Whether you are photographing a person, an animal, or any living creature, you should make yourself aware of any behavioral patterns or physical tendencies that your subject exhibits.

This week I was out in my kayak capturing some new images of Humpback Whales in the shallow waters off of Maui. This is something I am lucky enough to do several times each winter. Over time, I have noticed several behavioral patterns exhibited by these forty-ton mammals. With fairly good accuracy, I am able to predict when a great photogenic moment is about to occur. This helps me to have my camera in position at the perfect time to capture the image.

For example, I know that if the Humpback raises his dorsal fin “hump” just a bit higher out of the water than normal, then the whale is about to give me a great horizontal panoramic shot of its tail flukes.

I also know that if a whale slaps it’s tail flukes down onto the water with a splash, this behavior is likely to go on for at least a couple minutes; giving me ample opportunities to get the proper timing and camera setting figured out.

So learn to make note of your subjects’ tendencies. You will find that your timing with the shutter release gets better. This technique may be applied to human portraiture with equally good results.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 13 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Randy is owner of Hawaii’s oldest fine-art photography gallery. He left the world of corporate & medical photography behind 20 years ago to realize his dream of becoming a professional camera artist. He is an avid outdoorsman who proclaims, “My tent is my castle, and my kayak is my limousine.” You can visit Randy’s website at

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