Crystal-clear turquoise water frames white, peaceful beaches where sea lions lay smiling among deep black volcanic rocks and colorful sally light-foot crabs, all warmed by the last rays of a setting sun as it dances across the water towards the horizon. The pure light, undisturbed nature and spectacular colors make the Galapagos Islands a paradise for any eager photographer. Learn some tips to take the best photographs in Galapagos.
Around 83% of our biosphere is directly influenced by man. Over 1/3 of all land biomass has been smoothed over for crops, and approximately 20% of all new life generated on land annually is destined for human consumption; in other words, very little of our earth is maintained in its pure, natural form. Somehow, the Galapagos Islands are one of those forever shrinking areas. Thanks to its isolation and help from conservation groups, the islands have maintained approximately 95% of their pre-human biodiversity, making them the most biologically intact tropical archipelago on this planet.
What you’ll need to take the best photographs in Galapagos
A mighty 97% of the 3,093 m2 of the Galapagos Islands is protected by the Ecuadorian law. In other words, 97% of this archipelago is free from polluting machinery, agricultural practices and electrical wires. Thus, unless you have your eyes closed, it is impossible to take a bad picture in the Galapagos. Nevertheless, there are a few things you might want to have to take the best photographs in Galapagos and make your trip easier. (See our Galapagos Packing list for a complete list)
The photography equipment you bring on your Galapagos adventure can be as basic or complex as you wish, but keep in mind that the animals are eager models, making for a wide range of possible photos, such as portraits, in-flight shots, behavior pictures and underwater shots. Animals in the Galapagos have no fear of humans, so visitors can get quite close to them, thus a short- or medium-length lens is generally recommended. However, a long lens can also be handy as visitors are not allowed to leave the paths, and animals may be far away. This could also help in capturing an animal in action, as they might stop what they are doing to curiously stare at you as you approach. You also might want to consider an ultra-wide lens in order to capture the full extent of the island. With no buildings or water towers to distract from the image, it can be difficult to limit your shots to just one view. On the other hand, neither do you want to be weighed down with heavy lenses, as the majority of the day is spent hiking trails and, bearing in mind the archipelago is on the equator, it can get quite hot!
A waterproof camera for underwater shots is certainly a must for any divers or swimmers. The Galapagos Archipelago has one of the largest Marine Reserves in the world (which was recently extended this summer) and a stunning amount of diversity. From playful seals to enormous whale sharks, you will certainly want to capture the magnificent marine life these islands have to offer.
As a general recommendation, it is a good idea to do some research on the islands before you arrive so that you have a basic understanding of what you want to see, and when and where you can see it. Naturalist guides will be eager to advise you on this matter, but nevertheless, the more you know about the animal, the easier it will be to capture its true image.
Read about the “Galapagos BIG 15” here
“It’s quite simple: The more iconic species you see in the Galápagos Islands, the more rewarding and memorable your experience will be!”
Also, learn about important tips before you travel to the Galapagos Islands here
The Galapagos Archipelago is located directly along the equator, and receives the brunt of the sun’s rays. Before heading out to shoot, consider the type of light you will want, as midday light can result in intense shadows, while dusk can give you once-in-a-lifetime photos. Furthermore, sunrises and sunsets in the Galapagos are extraordinary, but are gone the moment they come – make sure you are ready!
Information to know
As a general rule of thumb in the archipelago, the subject is always more important than to take the best photographs in Galapagos and so there are several laws that must be abided by in order to protect the life these islands hold, no matter the photo opportunity. We have included some of these below:
- Maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from all wildlife (even if its them that approach you).
- Flashes are prohibited.
- Take only photos, leave only footprints.
- Do not step off the trail.
- Be careful not to step on plants.
But, above all, as you crouch uncomfortably to get the perfect angle of a blue-footed booby in the golden light of dusk, don’t forget to take the camera away from your face for a moment and take in this unique and marvelous land with your own eyes, one like none other.