Photographing Dolphins on a Sardine Run with Jacques de Vos [VIDEO]

Photographing Dolphins on a Sardine Run with Jacques de Vos [VIDEO]

Featuring Jacques de Vos

Ikelite Ambassador Jacques de Vos returns to his homeland of South Africa each year to film the incredible spectacle of the sardine run. And each sardine run seems to be driven by the common dolphin and bottlenose dolphins. It can be challenging to get "the shot" as dolphin are some of the fastest moving of all big animals underwater. Jacques shares some of his experience on shooting stills and videos of these incredible creatures. 

Scroll down to read the full transcript.


Photographing Dolphins

One of the animals you will encounter pretty much every sardine run here is dolphins, most notably the common dolphin. They're usually the ones driving the sardine run. And you can also get things like bottlenose dolphins.

Shooting dolphins underwater on either stills or video can be quite challenging just because of the speed at which they move. So you can have days where you're on a bait ball and they're flying past, they're so fast you can barely see them. So things like high shutter speeds and strobes really help to capture and freeze that moment.

Setting your drive mode to continuous  (burst shooting) can be a really big advantage when shooting fast moving subjects like dolphins. Image © Jacques de Vos

Strobe Technique

When I'm using the strobes on my camera system I find that especially with something like the sardine run where you have to get in and be quick about getting a shot, you don't really have time to adjust the arms and put them into position.

So something I find that helps a lot is to lock in the arms in a pulled in position already kind of tight where once you enter the water, the only thing you really have to do is pull them out slightly and lock at least two, maybe four, of the [clamps] as quickly as possible.

Filming Dolphins

On other days you might have a very inquisitive pod just hanging around and milling around and playing with you, and that's a great opportunity especially for things like video.

So shooting high frame rate video now with cameras that can you to record at 120 frames per second or even 60 frames per second. You can get amazing butter-smooth footage or dolphins as they come in and look at you and it’s always special.

© Jacque de Vos


Additional Viewing

My Arctic Ikelite System // Jacques de Vos' Underwater Housing Gear [VIDEO]

Using Ikelite Housings in Arctic Cold or Extreme Heat

The Wild Coast | Sardine Run, Sharks, and South Africa

Dolphin Photography Underwater Camera Settings

BURST shooting // Using Drive Mode to your advantage underwater [VIDEO]

Freediving with Orcas // Following a Dream To Norway [VIDEO]



Ikelite Ambassador Jacques de Vos
Ambassador Jacques de Vos  started out shooting photos and video underwater on his days off as an engineer in the oilfield services. After progressing through scuba instructor and commercial diver certifications, he took up free diving. Before long, Jacques gave up both engineering and compressed air to become a full time photographer, videographer, and free diving instructor. Completely self-taught, Jacques has won several prestigious international UW photography awards; his photography has been published worldwide in several books and publications, and he now also works as a camera operator on projects for companies like the BBC and Red Bull.  Jacques now spends several months a year free diving with Orcas in Norway and travels the world the rest of the time. Read more...

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