Photographing Dolphins at Chanonry Point

Visiting the Scottish Highlands inevitably includes a trip to Chanonry Point with the hope to get views of the dolphins. With the unpredictability of photographing nature, little did I know what was in store this particular week.

I turned up on the Monday morning, a few hours after low tide, and had difficulty parking due to limited spaces; it being a very popular location. After waiting 15-20 minutes to get the car parked, I grabbed the camera stuff and walked around the lighthouse to the viewing point to find a massive crowd of people at the water's edge, and to be informed that I had missed the dolphins by about twenty minutes where they had been displays of them jumping etc. I stayed a while, and got a photo of a dolphin in the distance heading out to sea before leaving and making a decision to come back again the next morning.

Tuesday I arrived at low tide (~7.15am) to guarantee a parking spot and settled down on my fold-up chair by the water's edge, ready to wait until high tide (six hours later) to make sure I didn't miss them. Unfortunately they didn't turn up, only showing on the horizon some miles out in the Moray Firth, appearing to have found a good source of fish. As high tide approached it was obvious it had been a fruitless morning.

Not having any particular plans for the next morning I decided to come again at low tide, arriving around 7.30am. Suddenly, around 9.30am there were exclamations from the crowd of people that the dolphins were here. What followed was an incredible near two hours of dolphins jumping, playing, and giving amazing displays of their behaviour.

The challenge to get decent photos then commenced. Not knowing when they will appear, breach, or jump, it was a continual process of keeping the camera pointing in the rough direction of where you expect them to come and then swing around and shoot when the fun starts.

Many shots end up of the fin or tail such as below!

Sometimes success was partial as below, with a sequence starting with the best potential shot having the dolphin partly out of the frame followed by getting the remaining frames aligned!

Early into the 'show' there was an incredible jump from one dolphin which I managed to catch a sequence of frames.... so high!

Having taken over 250 photos over the two hour period I was pleasantly surprised how many successful photos there were amongst the others that needed deleting.

The dolphins so often just seemed to be having fun, playing games of jumping over each other as below:

Or almost as if showing off in front of each other:

Playing with fish also was included in the games!

Here's a collection of some of my other favourite photos from the few hours:

It truly was an incredible day, beyond my wildest dreams of both seeing such beautiful creatures close up in their natural habitat, but also capturing such a range of behaviour in photos to look back to in the future.