PHOTOGRAPHING dolphins means that Tim Stenton can get another favourite species in his sights – Moray Firth dolphin watchers.
Tim’s passion for photographing dolphins and whales has inspired his new photgraphy book Moray Firth Dolphins.
Though he has travelled from Mexico to the Indian Ocean to see dolphins, the firth is one of his favourite locations for capturing the creatures in action.
But it also allows him to catch up with friends.
"One of the great things is that when I go up to the Moray Firth, not only do I get to see the dolphins, I get to see the people I’ve met through dolphin watching,.
"Many of them have become quite close friends. It’s a very sociable activity."
Tim explained why the firth is such a good place to see dolphins: "I can’t think of anywhere better really, at least from land, because they just come so close," he said.
"Bottlenose dolphins are such an active species in the way they jump out of the water, it makes it quite easy to see them.
"You should be able to see dolphins at most places along the Moray Firth at some time, so just go out and see what you can and if you at some of the key locations such as Chanonry Point, just talk to some of the people who are there and they’ll be able to tell you what’s been happening recently. Local knowledge is what most people rely on, including myself."
The biology graduate has now chosen the best of the photographs he has taken over the years for his new book, which also contains an introduction by fellow dolphin and whale watcher, television wildlife expert Mark Carwardine.
"I’ve always been interested in wildlife, but it’s only in the past 10 years that I’ve become really interested in photographing cetaceans," Stenton said.
He was encouraged to produce the book by a friend, James Moore, whose photographs of the Black Isle featured in an earlier book, Eilean Dubh, also produced by Black Isle based Bassman Books.
The Derbyshire resident’s own favourite shot in the book is a head-on photograph of a dolphin breaching in the firth.
"From a technical point of view, that’s probably the most difficult one to get because the opportunity doesn’t arise that often, but also because a camera will focus much more readily on something moving from side to side than something coming towards you," he added.
"There is a degree of luck involved, but most of the people who have really good pictures of dolphins really put the time in."
And human interest in the dolphins has increased over recent years with people now visiting from across the world in the hopes of glimpsing the animals.
While that may be good news for the local economy, the very popularity of the sealife does raise issues for the dolphins.
"The Dolphin Space Programme works very well in restricting or controlling access by the commercial dolphin watching boats," Tim said.
"If you are going out in a boat to see dolphins, just have a little respect for them and let them come to you rather than chasing them."
Watching from ashore is a good option for the welfare of dolphins.
"Providing you are on land just watching them, you have no effect on the dolphins," said Tim. "You don’t have to wear camouflage clothing or be quiet."
And if you can’t get as close as you’d like to real-life dolphins, you could possibly take a leaf out of Tim’s book.
His travels around the world are accompanied by his own personal dolphin who sits on his camera lens!
For more on Tim Stenton and his photographs, see www.TimtheWhale.com
For a longer version of this interview and more pictures, pick up a copy of Friday's Inverness Courier!