Photo of the Day - Breaching Humpback Whale

Long, long ago in ancient times, I used to post Photo of the Day entries on a semi-regular basis. Alas, being an outdoor nature photographer, I tend to enjoy spending my time outside rather than in, so some things get left to gather dust from time to time.

However, today, as I promised yesterday, I bring you the first of many glimpses at my recent travels in British Columbia in search of whales, sea otters, and spirit bears.

Today's photo(s) is from two weeks ago in the middle of Blackfish Sound off the coast of Malcolm Island. My group and I were watching orcas a few hundred metres off our bow when we noticed a humpback whale breach (jump out of the water) way, way off in the distance to our port side. Now normally this would bring about a sigh and a collective "geez, wish we were over there" from the group, but this time was different. Within seconds, the whale was once again flying out of the water, landing so heavily that we could hear the thunderous clap from more than two kilometers away. Then again, and then again!!

By the time the whale headed for the sky the fifth time, we had left the orcas behind us and were under full steam, heading straight for it with the faint hope of catching the tail end (pun intended) of this glorious show.

As we got within a kilometer, the whale was still surging out of the water at regular intervals. We lined up at the front of the boat, big lenses ready, and sure enough, the humpy pounded up out of the water furiously once again, providing our first chance at images.  This first shot was taken from 800 meters away, handheld with my 500mm lens on the Canon 1D IV body at 1/3200th of a second, f8, and ISO 1000.

The first image I took of the breaching humpback whale near Johnstone Strait in British Columbia

As we got closer and closer, we could tell that the frequency of the jumps was beginning to wane, so it became harder and harder to predict where the whale was going to jump.  Thankfully, on one of its' final breaches, I was able to get an image that I was happy with!

Humpback whale breaching: photographed handheld with a 500mm lens

And a closer view of the breach:

The final cropped image of the breaching humpback

This image was also shot handheld with the 500mm at ISO 1000, 1/2000th of a second at f9.

If you're interested in getting on the waiting list for future orca and humpback whale photography trips with me, then please let me know.

Happy shooting!


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