Mighty Fine Blog

A Sighting

“There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!”

In recent years, whale watching has become a must do experience for many people. It's increasing popularity can help support many coastal communities as they transition away from whale hunting to tourism and at the Mighty Fine Company we offer whale watching holidays to some of the best destinations in the world, including the Azores, Canada, Iceland and Norway.

lazy seals in the straits of san juanOn a recent adventure to Vancouver (Canada), while we didn't see Moby Dick (and we would ever only go to watch him!), we were lucky enough to get some spectacular sightings of some magnificent mammals, off the coast of Victoria, Vancouver Island.

Close enough to witness some of the best wildlife sightings I can remember, our expert guides led us to the straits of San Juan where the whales were! As we travelled cautiously to several different points during our three hour journey, we saw countless seals sunning themselves on some of the smaller islands on our journey to the ocean. More...

22. August 2016 by Emma Smith

A word from our partners in Andenes - Part 3 - Top Tips

Northern Lights in VesteralenWe spoke to Marten about what he thought would be the best tips for photographing wildlife in Vesteralen. He was pretty busy, so it is brief but he did emphasize that he would be more than happy to expand on these if you wanted to visit Vesterålen on either our Ultimate Whale Watching or Orca Whale Watching holidays.

Tips for visiting Vesterålen
“Climate and clothing: Vesterålen has a maritime climate with mild winters (-5 to +8 degrees Celsius) and summer (+5 to +25 degrees Celsius), so Norwegians wear mostly woollen clothing, in multiple layers. This means you can easily adjust to changes in temperature by putting on or removing clothing. Other man-made wicking materials found in outdoor clothing are also excellent. When you are out on the RIB you need to wrap up warm. While in summer you can, sometimes, get away with summer clothes you will also need to make sure you have autumn clothing as well. “

Tips for your cameras and equipment: 
1. Set your white balance between 5000 and 8000 Kelvin (see the instruction booklet of your camera).
humpback whale2. Although the guide will make sure the boat is as stable as possible having good balance yourself is an advantage. The combined movement of the boat and the animals can make photographing wildlife a real challenge. 
3. Take more than one trip, that way you can get used to the behaviour of the animals and the motion of the boat.
4. Allow time yourself time to watch the animals without the camera. Some people can get quite emotional when they see them and you will give yourself time to study them. Regularly looking at the landscape without the camera can also help prevent motion sickness.
5. For the whales in the summer you can manage well with a lens between 200 and 400 mm and a “bright” (wide aperture) lens is a nice to have, but not necessary.
6. For bird photography, a teleconverter can be very useful, particularly if you are not in possession of an expensive 600 or 800mm lens.
7. In the winter, a lens between 100 and 200 mm to get pictures of the humpback and killer whales is recommended.
8. In the winter controlling your brightness is a must, from F2.8 and below is highly recommended at any time that the sun is not high in the sky.
9. During the winter nights, a wide angle lens for the Northern Lights will be useful.


20. May 2015 by Emma Smith

Give your Romantic Break the Mighty Fine WOW Factor!

Check out the latest addition to our portfolio of unique accommodation. These glass feature rooms in Luosto are part of our new Northern Lights Romantic Break. With plenty of activities during the day, including a romantic outdoor Lappish Cookery School experience amongst all the other usual activities involving huskies, snowmobiles and reindeer, this holiday is perfect for any couples looking to capture the romance of the Northern Lights together.

18. May 2015 by Emma Smith

A word from our partners in Andenes - Part 2 - The Wildlife Opportunities

We asked Marten for his opinion on the best wildlife to keep an eye out for on Andenes, why it is best, and when would be a good time to see it?

wildlife photographer Marten Bril"Sightings of natural phenomena, wildlife's most beautiful moments, are best realized in Vesteralen, because, as with all animals.... you look for them where the food is."

The photogenic puffins, visit Andenes, in their thousands. They feast on the fish, but in turn they provide food for the equally interesting eagles.  Vesteralen is one of the best places in Europe to see them. It is the most normal thing in the world, to come across at least a handful every day. It is almost like being in your own nature documentary.

Tent pegs?
The local nickname for the herring. Mind you, we are talking about the great Norwegian herring and not small guppies! Every winter, the "pegs" seek shelter in the Norwegian fjords south of Tromsø and north of Andenes.  The result is that orca, fin and humpback whales regularly put in an appearance. In Andfjord, in particular, over the last three years, the herring catch by whales has been recorded by many a photographer.

Killer whales

Getting the perfect whale picture is best done in Andfjord, on a RIB boat, at sea level, with the beautiful backdrop of fjords and snowy peaked mountains as a backdrop. You are closer to the whales. You are at their level! Your adrenaline level rises when you're surrounded by killer whales and humpback whales waving their impressive tail to the boat (without touching it, incidentally).
Your whales pictures will have a variety of different backgrounds, a red horizon, purples, pastels and blues, or gray if it is cloudy.  I've never seen a photographer come off the boat bored and they "fizz" with excitement when they dive or snorkel with them. You might not think it, but photographers also have feelings, and they often have to wipe the tears of joy from their masks so they can see :)."

So what times of year should I go?

whale surfacing

"For Whales: Spring and summer: Whale safaris are best from early May until September. At this time, the male sperm whales forage around Andenes, and you also have a chance to see fin and humpback whales and dolphins, sometimes even killer whales. Autumn and winter: killer whales, fin whales and humpback whales follow the herring towards Andfjord. So when the herring are seen swimming into the fjords, the whales are there to be seen. Best between mid-November and mid-February, while January, because the days are getting longer, is a top month!
For Birds: Spring and summer: puffins, eagles, several species of other predators, guillemots, kittiwakes, owls and more.
Autumn and winter: eagles, owls and king eider."



8. May 2015 by Emma Smith

A word from our partners in Andenes - Part 1 - An introduction

Our partners in Andenes, North Norway have, helpfully, given us their thoughts on why they think that you should visit the region, why it offers great wildlife watching opportunities and if you want to capture the moment for ever, how you can get the best photographs while you are there.

The owner and main guide for our Orca Whale Watching and Ultimate Whale Watching Holiday itineraries, Marten, lives in photogenic Vesteralen, home to Andenes and he has a few words for people interested in visiting him.

white tailed Eagle"The Norwegian archipelago of Vesterålen is located north of the more famous Lofoten Islands and though the towns of Stø and Andenes have become famous for the whale watching (in particular the iconic upright tail pictures of the male sperm whales, who have foraged here for centuries, as they dive) many do not realise how fantastic and fascinating the other wildlife and in particular the birdlife is in these islands as well. Andenes, in particular, is a great base, providing everything that keen wildlife watchers and photographers desire; the Arctic light, the Aurora Borealis, fanatstic wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. Having swapped my office job, I have chosen to live here because of the amazing experiences I encounter every day. I've lived in this part of Norway for over 10 years now and I've learnt a lot, starting small, making mistakes, starting again, looking for something new, testing my limits and exploring the nearly limitless possibilities here. I am keen to share the opportunities and knowledge from my experiences with my guests, whether it be swimming with Orcas, a rib safari amongst the humpbacks or photographing the incredible birdlife."

In particular, we (The Mighty Fine Company) think there are a couple of reasons that we are proud to rely on Martens knowledge and experience for our whale watching itineraries: fistly his knowledge of the local wildlife and secondly his knowledge of the local light conditions.

RIB Whale Watching Safari Marten says about the wildlife and light, "It is important when watching and photographing the animals, to study how they behave, what they eat, how they do it, how they fly or dive, and when they are likely to do this. This knowledge is the most important thing when you are trying to watch or photograph animals. A simple example, a bald eagle sitting on a stone is fairly easy to photograph. But how do you anticipate when it will leave, how do you capture the explosion of power and it's imposing wingspan? In this situation, watch his tail twitch to make a stool, a few seconds later the Eagle will jump and that’s the time capture the shot. The light is equally important and presents many opportunities. There are still people who think that 69 degrees North means many months in the dark, but this is a fable! The light here is beautiful and the most colourful time of the year is 'mørke' or dark time. In clear weather the sky is pastel coloured, with the sun trying to break the horizon but just not reaching, not to mention the unparalleled Northern Lights. Knowledge is power and contrary to what many people believe it's not the sky but the blue sea that needs to be accounted for! Measuring the light and making small adjustments to the camera's balance can save hours of time on Photoshop and will be much more satisfying."

In the following posts we will be getting more insights into the wildlife opportunities on Vesteralen and top tips for photographing the wildlife there......

22. April 2015 by Emma Smith

Categories: Destination Insight

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