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.
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 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, and applied Nik Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a photo of a tender moment being shared by a humpback whale mother and her young calf. Humpback moms spend most of their time resting beneath the surface, but their babies have to breath much more frequently. When a calf comes up to breath, it will often playfully frolic on the surface, otherwise, it stays close to mom and hides underneath her pectoral fins or tail. After this calf came up for a breath, I photographed it gently nuzzling up against its mom’s belly. Aww, cute! Check out several more stunning images of these two humpback whales underwater. 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.
Recently, I have been rethinking my workflow and processing techniques. I am not talking about a total overhaul of the way that I edit, but rather becoming more efficient and effective. Processing underwater images requires much more effort than above water images, particularly if I want a gray whale swimming through a blue background. For this reason, I have been holding off on editing my new underwater humpback whale images until now.
Tony Wu and I co-lead an exciting Humpback Whale Photography Tour in both Alaska and Tonga last summer. This beautiful portrait is from our first encounter with a friendly mother and calf in Tonga. Momma was resting about 20′ below the surface as the curious calf swam over to check me out and pretty much ran me over. We did not actually make contact, but if I would have extended my arm bent at the elbow I would have been able to touch it. 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 balance filter.
I’m finally home long enough to start editing my images from the last 6 months. Dang, have I been busy and time flies. This is my favorite image that I photographed while co-leading the Alaska portion of Tony Wu and my dual hemisphere Humpback Whale Tour last summer. See how sunny and perfect the conditions were? I kept telling our clients that the weather never got this nice in Southeast. It was an ideal day to spend with a large group of humpback whales that were bubble-net feeding. As this glorious day progressed, the whales stopped feeding and did what whales do best. Absolutely nothing! However, we decided to work on our tans and patiently stay with the whales hoping that they might do something. Eventually, they all started to breach at the same time. It was insane watching all of these enormous animals launch themselves out of the water, let alone positioning the skiff so that everyone could photograph this behavior. I love how the water cascaded off of this whale, plus there is a small rainbow behind it from its blow. I’ve seen this multiple breaching behavior happen enough times to consider that it is some kind of goodbye gesture. Sure enough, after all this breaching was over, the whales swam off in separate directions. I created this image using a Canon 1DmkIV with my 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens and processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6.
I love photographing humpback whale breaches. It is one of the most rewarding, but frustrating ways to use a camera. First, I have to be lucky enough to even see a humpback breach. At this point in my whale watching career, I am guessing that I have probably witnessed close to 1000 breaches. Even if I see a whale leap out of the water, that does not mean that I can photograph it. The only hope I have of getting a shot is to have a whale(s) start breaching multiple times. Next, I have to be able to close the distance so that when the whale breaches I am close enough to fill the frame. Keep in mind that I am trying to do all this while moving around on a boat that I am either piloting myself, or in the case of this image just a passenger. Finally, the stars need to align properly as my spider-sense tingles for me to be able to point my camera in the right direction at the moment that the whale begins to breach. Don’t even get me started on whether my camera’s autofocus works properly or not. I photographed this spectacular breach while co-leading the Tonga portion of Tony Wu and my Megaptera Mania Tour this past August. 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.