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Photography Boat Tour

Written by Mark Holmes on .

On two afternoons in July 2017, I led two small groups of photographers on a boat trip on San Diego Bay. We spent three hours touring the bay and snapping up all the photo opportunities we could find.

By July, we usually expect the marine layer of cloud that covers the coast in May and June to have all but dissipated, but this year it has hung around well into July. Consequently, we had cloud cover and soft light on both trips. Although it meant we missed a blue sky and good light over downtown, the light was particularly suitable to photographing the wildlife we found along the way.

Our skipper for the trip was Justin Renfro of Chill Charters. He was extremely hospitable and friendly, so that we quickly established a fun atmosphere that remained throughout the three-hour trip. Our boat was great for a small group of five photographers, being small enough to get close in to subjects, but big enough to move around in and set up shots. We didn’t use tripods on the boat, since all they do is transfer the motion and vibration of the boat into the camera, but we were careful to shoot with faster shutter speeds to eliminate blur from camera shake.

We found a lot of things to photograph along the way, starting with the sea lions, seals, and sea birds at the bait loading dock. One of the most interesting sights and one that everyone was excited about, was when we came across two small navy boats that turned out to be dolphin trainers. The dolphins would ride on the boats and hop on and off at the handler’s command. One I photographed seemed to be wearing some kind of band around its snout. The dolphins are reportedly used for harbor protection and mine detection.

It’s safe to say everyone who came along had a good time and a lot of good pictures were taken. I intend to run another group of these photo tours later in the year. If you are interested in a private charter for your friends and family, Chill Charters can accommodate your needs year round.

Below is a slideshow of a few of the images I took on the trip.