The dolphins swimming in the Destin Harbor and Choctawhatchee Bay can serve as inspiration for some great photos. Captain Steve and the crew of the Southern Star work hard to make sure visitors see as many dolphins as possible on the two-hour cruise. With the relative affordability and accessibility of good camera equipment, you can take some great photos of the dolphin when you see them splashing and playing in the water.

  • Most professional or quasi- professional photographers recommend using an SLR camera. A Single Lens Reflective Camera uses a mirror and prism system to display the image, as opposed to a viewfinder.   Most mid-priced cameras, however, are LCD cameras, and this is not as big a challenge as it used to be.
  • Dolphin tend to move fast, so you want to make sure there’s no delay between the time you press the shutter and the time the camera digitally records your image.  Some smaller point and shoot cameras have a significant delay, so look for a camera with less than a .001 second delay.
  • You’ll need a zoom lens. Captain Steve and the Southern Star will take you close enough to see the dolphin, but not close enough to touch. The goal aboard the Southern Star is to observe, not harass or interfere with the dolphin in their natural habitat. A zoom lens will ensure that you get the clearest shot possible.
  • A wide-angle zoom lens allows you to capture more of the landscape and background. You will need to decide if this is important to you, or if you’ll be cropping much of it out when you get home and edit the image.
  • If you’ve ever hired a photographer to take beach pictures, you know that the light is best early in the morning, or at sunset. If you are on a mid-day or afternoon cruise, keep the sun and light at your back. This will cut down on any glare or over exposure.
  • Even if your camera has an automatic light meter, you will want to recalibrate it for the bright sunlight.
  • The Southern Star offers sunset cruises, which talks care of the problem on its own.
  • You may want to keep your eye and camera trained on one specific dolphin. As soon as she begins to rise out of the water, you’ll be in perfect position to grab the shot.
  • Don’t forget to share! Post your National Geographic worthy photo to our Facebook Page or Tweet it to the world! We’ll give you credit for it and share it with our friends, fans, and followers.