Equipment Tips

Spotted a pod of dolphins?

Amazing! Here are some tips and tricks for photographing them

Mobile phone
  • Hold your phone horizontally to allow you to capture more of the scene
  • First, find the dolphins by eye before bringing the phone up, watch the animals first to get a sense of how they are moving
  • Watch the dolphins by eye to keep track of them, hold your phone steady and point it to where the dolphins are, then flick your eyes down to make sure they are in view on your screen
  • If you watch them through the screen you are likely to lose sight of them quickly and be tempted to rapidly swing the phone around to try and find them again
  • Move steadily as footage that sweeps around can be difficult to watch
  • If you are on a boat pan round slowly
  • Mobile footage is usually good enough for us to identify species. If your footage is good, we may ask if we can keep it for future use on social media or publications. Credit is always given when footage is used
Digital Cameras

If you have a DSLR camera you are in a much better situation to help us scientifically. Any good quality images may be good enough for Photo-Identification, but images must only be taken from a boat when following the code of conducts. 

What makes a good photo-ID image?
  • Animal should be side on 
  • Entire dorsal fin must be visible
  • Good lighting
  • High quality with no pixelation
  • No artefacts or splashes obscuring the fin
What is a good lens size?

A good lens size for taking images on a boat is 75-300mm 

From land, you would be looking at up to 600mm 

Getting your images to us

Generally speaking, social media platforms reduce media quality too much that it can ruin a lovely video or set of images. 

You can use our contact form linked below to let us know you have some images. We can then discuss how to send them ensuring the quality of your photos or video are retained. Usually this uses an online file transfer service. 

If you have lots of files then it may be easier to pop them on a USB and drop them into us in our Visitor Centre.

Bottlenose dolphin by Peel Castle, taken by Jane Young
Binocular tips

How to choose a good pair of binoculars

  • You can spend anything from a few tens of pounds to thousands of pounds on binoculars, so decide your budget first before you start looking and stick to it
  • Buy the best you can within your budget, a good pair of binoculars will last a lifetime
  • Where will you use them? Weight may be a more important factor if you take them out walking than if you use them in your window at home
  • Are they for general use, just for marine wildlife, or are you a keen birder? Different magnifications are often favoured for different uses
  • If you will use them a lot outside think about a weatherproof or rubber coating to help protect from the elements
  • Buying from a well-known brand usually helps guarantee quality
  • You will see two numbers associated with binoculars, e.g. 7×50
    • the first number is the strength or magnification – how ‘zoomed in’ you will be, a lower magnification will give you a wider field of view
    • the second number is the size or lens diameter – how much light the lenses can let in and how big the binoculars will be
      • compact <30mm
      • mid-size 30-40mm
      • full-size >40mm
  • Best for birding – 8×32 or 8×42 are popular birding sizes, go for the mid-size for a bit more portability
  • Best for hiking – compact to save on weight and space, e.g. 8×28, 10×25
  • Best for marine watching – we use 7×50 as this gives us a wide field of view to be able to scan across the sea, this is a common size for cetacean surveys
    • If you want them more for whale watching trips/safaris then a bigger magnification would be better to get a closer view of the animals
  • If you have borrowed our binoculars at a public watch event you’ll know they are great!

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