Galapagos Wildlife Photography
For nature photographers, capturing close-up images of wildlife is the ultimate travel photography experience – and it is safe to say there is no better place on earth to get amazing full-frame shots of unique and fearless wildlife than in the Galapagos.
Galapagos is also a very beautiful group of islands with some truly superb landscapes. From volcanic craters to stark lava fields, to mangrove lagoons and crystalline turquoise waters with some fascinating and unique plant life, offering an exceptional wildlife photography experience for every type of natural history enthusiast.
For people who have an interest in photography, one of the best options is to join one of our small group tours, led by company co-founder Santiago Bejarano, who is also a passionate and experienced wildlife photographer. However if you prefer to travel at a different time, we can advise on which yacht and itinerary would work best for you depending on your specific interests.
Mainland Ecuador itself also offers wildlife photographers some extraordinary opportunities, like capturing some of the dozens of species of hummingbirds found in the cloud forest r just 2 hours north of the capital Quito, or staying at the wonderful Hacienda Zuleta where you are virtually guaranteed to see wild Andean condors every day or down to the Amazon Rainforest.
Photographic Equipment for Galapagos
Because you can get surprisingly close to the wildlife, you can pack reasonably light for the Galapagos Islands allowing for more adaptability and flexibility with your photography. Although photographic styles and conditions on the ground vary, here are some tips from us as a general guide to help choosing your camera gear for Galapagos
Ultra wide angle: whilst wide flat vistas mean an ultra-wide lens isn’t necessary for landscape shots, actually it can be very helpful when photographing the wildlife at close range, getting wide landscape in the shot at the same time.
Wide angle zoom: one of the best lenses for Galapagos – the greater the focal range the better.
Zoom telephoto: another great lense for Galapagos. Although you won’t need it for animals very far away it is helpful for zoomed in shots of wildlife to fill the frame. We would suggest a 70-300mm or a 100-400mm will be sufficient for most shots and for some a 70-200mm lens would be enough, given that you have to consider weight.
Extra batteries and memory cards: People are often surprised at how many photographs they actually take in Galapagos, so we would suggest taking twice as much memory as you think you will need! Good to have one or two extra batteries but no need to have more than that.
An underwater camera: If you plan on snorkelling during your trip, then this is a must! The wildlife of Galapagos is as fascinating and unique below the water as it is above and it is no longer strictly necessary to spend a lot on your underwater camera, as there are now some great sports cameras (like GoPro) which produce excellent results for the price tag and can take great underwater video.
Salt spray is an issue on deck and along seashores
Whilst keeping the gear covered provides the best protection, it also interferes greatly with picture taking! Our recommendation is that after exposure to any degree of spray, wipe camera and lens with a freshwater-dampened cloth (not forgetting the retractable parts of zoom lenses). Then dry carefully with an absorbent, lint-free cloth. Try to avoid opening cameras or lens-changing at the water’s edge or wherever spray may be in the air!
Unless you are planning to shoot a lot of video, or extending your trip to photograph some of the wildlife of mainland Ecuador, there is no need to bring a tripod thanks to the high light levels in Galapagos.
The Galapagos National Park have a ‘no flash’ rule. With the light generally being very good and being able to push the ISO setting, it is easy to manage without flash. For cameras with an automatic flash built in, the flash should be switched off.
This all really goes without saying, but just in case! Always be conscious of other photographers, allowing others to get a clear shot before walking into their view. Also, be conscious of those using video cameras to record both the sights and sounds of Galapagos.
Never surround a single animal or animal group. The best way is to form a semi-circle, which is better for the wildlife and leaves an unspoiled background. No wildlife should ever be harassed for the sake of photography. Approach slowly, leaving a distance of 10-15 feet (3-4 Meters) from nesting birds and crawling seals.
Identifying Galapagos species often depends on which island the subject was photographed. If you have set the date and time correctly on your camera this information should be embedded in the background information stored on each image. Then combined with notes of what you saw and which island you were on each day, you should then easily be able to sort out and identify species much more easily.