Cornforth Images

Category Archives: Humpback Whale

Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 201

Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 201

Posted by Jon Cornforth on October 16, 2014

Over the last decade, I have focused much of my travel and photography on Alaska. However, my only trip up north this year was in early August when I lead a small group tour in search of my favorite subject, humpback whales bubble-net feeding. There were some ups and downs associated with this particular trip that I do not need to get into, but it was definitely my most productive tour photographically for bubble-net feeding. I told my clients that they should be proud of what we accomplished. The exhilaration of photographing over a dozen humpback whales cooperatively hunting and feeding on schools of herring never gets old. It does get frustrating, but never boring. This image shows a very close encounter where I had to zoom back to 70mm as the whales erupted above the surface with their mouths about to slam shut. If you look in the mouth of the whale on the right, you can even see a silver herring flying through the air about to be engulfed. I created this image using my Canon 7D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC 2014, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Kona Humpback Whale Tail 1

Kona Humpback Whale Tail 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 13, 2014

During my recent trip to the Big Island, I was planning to photograph humpback whales as much as possible, but alas the whales and weather were not all that cooperative. I always advise aspiring whale photographers that they better enjoy the boat ride and their companions when venturing out on the water. This is the best image that I got while spending much of the day with a small group of whales in a heat run. All of the activity was taking place beneath the surface and there was no ryhme or reason to their change in direction. Many times, I was set up perfectly for a great shot, only to be thwarted by a whole lot of nothing. This tail image was as exciting as it got that day, and even this was very surprising. I created this image using my Canon 7D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens with my Canon 1.4X III tele-converter attached. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Alaska February 2014 Cover

Alaska February 2014 Cover

Posted by Jon Cornforth on January 17, 2014

I am happy to share my first Alaska photo cover! This image of a humpback whale breaching straight out of the water happens to be one of my personal favorites, so I am pleased that it is being published so prominently. I was fortunate to be able to photograph this amazing moment in July 2010. The weather was perfect and my father was also with me. We were in my small inflatable north of the Brothers Islands in Southeast Alaska when this whale started repetitively breaching for over an hour. It was one of my most memorable days as a photographer.

Scuba Diving January 2014 Cover

Scuba Diving January 2014 Cover

Posted by Jon Cornforth on January 14, 2014

I am excited to share that I have the cover photo on this month’s issue of Scuba Diving! I photographed this humpback whale calf while visiting Tonga in August 2012. It was especially playful and pretty much swam right over me while I was snorkeling next to it. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.

2012 Pacific Life Annual Report

2012 Pacific Life Annual Report

Posted by Jon Cornforth on June 21, 2013

I want to share another recent cover that features one of my humpback whale images. I photographed this dramatic breach while in Tonga last year. My friends and clients often joke with me that I should publish a book just on breaching humpback whales since I have been fortunate to be able to frequently photograph this extraordinary behavior.

Ha'apai Humpback Mother & Calf 28

Ha’apai Humpback Mother & Calf 28

Posted by Jon Cornforth on June 20, 2013

I recently made some progress on editing my backlog of humpback whale images from Tonga last year and thought that this one was worth sharing. I was very lucky to be able to spend 90 minutes photographing this very relaxed mother-calf pair. They spent most of the time calmly resting on the surface during which the calf moved around a lot and curiously check me out. This was an amazing experience, which is why I can’t wait to return to Tonga in 2014 to lead a few week-long tours in search of more encounters like this. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.

Digital Camera May 2013 Cover

Digital Camera May 2013 Cover

Posted by Jon Cornforth on June 14, 2013

I’ve been meaning to share this news for the last few weeks, but have been so busy that I am only now getting around to it. One of my underwater humpback whale images from Tonga was published on the cover of China’s Digital Camera May 2013 issue! This was the first time that I have worked with this magazine, but I hope to continue building upon this new relationship in the year ahead.

Outdoor Photographer June 2013 Summer Hotspots Article

Outdoor Photographer June 2013 Summer Hotspots Article

Posted by Jon Cornforth on June 7, 2013

My image Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding 110 is featured in Outdoor Photographer’s June 2013 article “Pro Tips For Summer Hotspots”. In the article, I describe what it is like to observe humpback whales as they cooperatively feed in Alaska, as well as how to photograph this incredible behavior. Also featured in the article, is one of my personal favorite images Tonquin Valley Sunrise 3 along with a description of how to photograph this dramatic scene located in Jasper National Park.

Vava'u Humpback Whale Breach 3

Vava’u Humpback Whale Breach 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 12, 2013

If I could do one thing every day for the rest of my life, it would be to go out on the water to photograph whales for the day. They are simply the most amazing creatures that I am fortunate to regularly photograph. My favorite images of humpback whales are created when they breach. This behavior is an impressive display of emotion and power. You can see my entire gallery of photos of humpback whales breaching. Two of the things that make my breaching pictures stand out are; I shoot from small boats, close to the water so that the whale erupts above the horizon and I am close enough to my subject to use my 70-200mm lens. This image is a good example of utilizing the lowest point on the boat, as well as being taken at 70mm. During the Tonga portion of my 2012 Humpback Whale Tour, this whale repeatedly breached so close to the boat that I probably should have utilized a slightly wider lens. Incredible! I created this image using my Canon 7D and 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens, and processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6.

Vava'u Humpback Whale Calf 12

Vava’u Humpback Whale Calf 12

Posted by Jon Cornforth on February 5, 2013

This week, I am going to share several images of baby animals that I have photographed during my recent trips, starting with this gregarious humpback whale calf in Tonga. While I was snorkeling on the surface, this calf swam right underneath me while its mom patiently watched below. I really like the arching position of the calf’s body and pectoral fins, as well as the eye contact that the calf made with me. In order to photograph an image like this, I have to spend a lot of time searching for friendly whales and be comfortable swimming in the open ocean with my camera. Most of my best pictures were taken at 17mm, which is a very close encounter. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and Canon 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing with an 8″ dome port. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6, plus I applied Nik Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter. Check out my photo gallery for more humpback whale photos underwater, of breaches, tails, spouting and bubble-net feeding.


I've been photographing native North American wildlife and landscapes since 2001. All of my photos were taken on location and are available for purchase as stock photography for commercial and editorial use, or as fine art prints. My photographs span over 5 continents, 10 countries, and 7 US states including Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Bahamas, California, Canada, Hawaii, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Patagonia, Utah, and Washington.

I'm best known for my humpback whale photos, stellar sea lion photos, polar bear photos, sea otter photos, and bald eagle photos. National Parks are also a favorite subject of mine, and include Denali National Park photos, Glacier Bay National Park photos, and the US National Park of American Samoa. I'm an award winning nature photographer who has been featured in numerous online publications and magazines, with experience using medium format, 35mm film, and Canon digital SLR cameras including for my underwater marine photography of fish, whales, dolphins, and coral.

Please contact me by phone or email to find the perfect photo for your stock, commercial, editorial, or fine art purposes today!