CB and I had a great whale watching trip this past weekend. He makes his living showing people birds at extremely scenic places, and so has a nice camera for that kind of thing. I thought it would be cool to also have some video if possible, so we also took his video camera, which had about 25 minutes of battery life in it. I was in charge of getting video, and he took stills.
We've talked before about how carrying a camera changes one's focus (har har) while viewing nature. It's almost as though one has to choose between observing the animal and obtaining a sort of deferred gratification that comes from taking photos. For most of us, anyway. CB confirms that when you do it for long enough, you can indeed do both.
I was a shining example of not achieving either objective with the video camera on the boat. A Minke whale was spotted, and I rushed to get the video. I fumbled with the switch, and, to save battery life, looked through the viewfinder instead of opening up the fold-out screen that serves the same purpose. Turns out Minke whales are notoriously unpredictable in terms of where they come up after a dive, so we were looking all around to spot the whale. I tried to train the camera on the animal, but there wasn't much contrast in the viewfinder (grayish whale, grayish ocean) so I'm sure the image bounced around a lot.
Anyway, by the time the little light came on inside my head that said, "honey, put the camera down and just watch this creature," it was gone. Grrr. It didn't really sink in until the end of the trip, when the naturalist with us said something like, "I haven't gotten such a good look at a Minke whale for a long time, maybe ever."
We haven't looked at the video, and I imagine there might be a little bit of footage worth looking at, but I'm not hopeful. I've learned an important lesson, which is that the best way for me to experience this kind of thing is to use binoculars, not a camera. However, you can still see what this Minke whale looked like, thanks to CB's taking photos of it. That black and white thing is its flipper.