Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

For wildlife lovers, a vacation in the Galapagos is often an old dream and a real “bucket list” experience. This remote island off the coast of Ecuador is home to some of the most unique wildlife on Earth, and offers the opportunity for some very close encounters. For those who want to take advantage of most opportunities to take animal photos, some specific tips from experts can help.
Tips for Photography at Holiday Galapagos Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

There are many generic tips for photographing wildlife (including the most basic, ie patient), but there are also some specific ones to capture great images of these remote island animals.

Be prepared

This suggestion has a double meaning: You need to be prepared in terms of equipment, but also at a situational level. Taking the right camera and accessories is essential, and SLRs with interchangeable lenses will produce far superior results to the iPhone, however up-to-date the model. The wildlife in the archipelago is unbelievably fearless, so there is no need for long focal length and long fixed lenses, but if you are serious, short and medium lens combinations are recommended. As a guide, consider (at least) the 18mm-70mm lens and the 100mm-400mm. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Another aspect of preparation is getting ready to get “money fired” without too much notice. Wild wildlife, however, and animals will not wait for you to focus, change openings and frame the scene perfectly – even though the Giant Tortoise Galapagos may be an exception. Read it every time and frankly, keeping your eyes peeled so you can take advantage of the situation as it appears.

Lighting

Due to the geographical position of the archipelago at the equator, the sun rises and sets rapidly, spends much of its time just above the head. This results in harsh and top-lit conditions that are often less conducive to capturing wildlife images. What you should aim for is low-side lighting, which creates greater interest in texture and shaded contours. Without the benefits of an artificial studio lighting, the only real solution is to get up early before the sun reaches overhead, or later at night when it goes down. An added bonus of this is that you can get some spectacular and dramatic pictures by using sunrise or sunset to give the backlight on your subject. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Expose

Even if you set your SLR for automatic exposure, lighting and conditions in the archipelago are often beyond the reach of the most advanced camera metering system. For example, bright white plumage in Nazca Booby perched on black volcanic rocks will cause the camera to glow for darker areas, and then highlight it more deeply. A good tip is to use the +/- function on your camera, which will override the meter and fix one or two stops to expose the bird and not the rocks.

Think laterally

In addition to the technical aspects, the most important advice of the knowing experts is to think out of the box and actually take advantage of the incredible opportunities that you will encounter on Galapagos holidays. Do not just follow the crowd and photograph the animals from a static point of view – go down to the sand with Sally Lightfoot Crabs, ride high on rocks with the Marine Iguana, and cross into shallow rivers with weird Sea Lions (obviously keeping your camera protected). Being creative with angles is one of the surest ways to open up to this once-in-a-lifetime image.

Turned Good to Great

Meanwhile, for some people, the Galapagos holiday is quite a gift in itself, for others, catching amazing photographs is a very important aspect. Wildlife photography can, in essence, be a very challenging quest. And while being in the right place at the right time can reap amazing rewards, following a few tips to take advantage of those “timely, right place” moments can make the difference between good and good photos. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Giant tortoises are one of the best known animals in the Galapagos Islands. And, for nature lovers who choose wildlife holidays in the Galapagos, this is one of the most sought-after encounters. Like many other animals, however, despite its iconic status as the world’s largest tortoise, it faces the challenge of survival, and is now extinct or nearly extinct on several islands in the archipelago.
Of the 14 native populations, only eleven are left – with many of them considered to be highly threatened. The GTRI (The Giant Tortoise Recovery Initiative) is a conservation project  aimed at changing the flow and restoring its population across the island. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

GTRI work

Established in 2014, GTRI has worked closely with the Directorate of National Parks to achieve a number of objectives. The long-term goals of the initiative include:

• Restoring population to historical summits throughout the archipelago. This includes breeding programs to recover the islands where endemic subspecies have become extinct. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

• Rejuvenate and restore the required habitat.

• Survey of current population to inform future conservation research and efforts.

• Use genetic advances to improve future conservation programs.

Why Do They Need Help?

In an environment where it has no natural predators for millions of years, the Giant Turtles become the animals most affected by human arrivals on the islands. For years, they were used as a food source by settlers and maritime tourists, who managed to find out that they were able to survive for long at sea. They transport them aboard in holding the ship, and then kill them as needed.

In addition to being a source of food, the population is devastated by the introduction of animals such as dogs, goats, cows and pigs. Dogs and pigs loot eggs and hatchlings, while cattle and goats compete with the turtle’s own food source.

Although it is illegal to catch them today, and introduce animals gradually controlled or removed, in some cases too late. But generating an extinct subspecies, such as endemic disease on the island of Floreana, becomes a reality in itself by GTRI’s deductive work.

Progress Created

Species from Floreana Island have been deemed extinct since 1850. But thanks to advances in DNA testing, scientists were able to determine their genetic traces in 2008. They then tested the hybrid population on Wolf Isabela volcano island that has different DNA, and found that it fits well the extinct Floreana species. How this cross-crossing takes place is a mystery, although the most likely explanation is through human intervention, perhaps by dismantling them among the different islands.

A group of 30 have been transferred to a research center in Santa Cruz, where scientists can analyze their DNA even further. It was found that two were classified F1, meaning that they were descended from two elderly races. Through a breeding program, GTRI now intends to refill Floreana Island with the offspring of these animals – effectively bringing the species back from the dead.

Visit the Past and Future on Holidays in the Galapagos

Thanks to GTRI, past species are now closely related to their future, and it is highly likely that populations can be restored to their natural habitat. Visitors to wildlife vacations in the Galapagos can visit the Tortoise Center in Santa Cruz to see the resurrection of Tortoise Giant Floreana in (albeit very slowly). Restoring the Past in the Galapagos