Vava'u Humpback Whale Calf 3

Vava’u Humpback Whale Calf 3

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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.

Vava'u Humpback Whale Breach 1

Vava’u Humpback Whale Breach 1

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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.

Ha'apai Humpback Whale Breach 3

Ha’apai Humpback Whale Breach 3

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Now that my new website is online, I am excited to start sharing my spectacular new images from my adventures during the second half of 2012!

In July and August, Tony Wu and I co-lead our first Megaptera Mania Tour with 6 wonderful clients. After the Tonga portion of tour was over, I spent a second week whale watching with just 2 of our clients. (I should mention that anyone who travels with me for any length of time also becomes a close friend.) This humpback whale calf seemingly levitating is my most interesting image. See the humpback whale photos gallery for more spectacular images!

We spent the better part of the morning following this mother, calf, and escort. They basically did nothing for hours, but we stayed with them because there weren’t a lot of other whale options around at the time. However, we could sense that something was going to happen, and eventually the 3 whales exploded from the water in what can only be described as a goodbye greeting to each other. This breaching behavior lasted for about 15 minutes, during which we frantically tried to point our cameras in the right direction as they continuously erupted from the water. After the whales settled down, I was flabbergasted to discover this breaching calf photo while reviewing my images. 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. The original image was a little tight on the right side, but since it was just empty background I slightly expanded it to allow for more space.