Wow Great shot! My compliments
robwill236 Jun 02
simbona Jun 03
simbona Jun 03
simbona Jun 03
Great capture
AlanJ Jun 06
Thanks for all the comments !
Dcrisp Jun 07
Join the conversation. Add a comment or even better, a critique.
Dcrisp Jun 07
Well done, it takes many hours and missed opportunities to capture a shot of this quality!
Julia_137 Sep 16
Beautiful shot! Come and check out a few of mine sometime 😄
Neckbone Nov 02
Cool image!
judykarendal Nov 11
Congratulations! Amazing capture!
Fantastic job, one of the best I have seen of this type.

More from AlanJ

Jul, 2017

Whale tail

A Southern Right Whale off the coast of South Africa

Submitted to Photo Contests


Won Runner Up in Colossal Wildlife Photo ContestDecember, 2018
Won Contest Finalist in Colossal Wildlife Photo ContestNovember, 2018


Peer Award

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Superior Skill
Outstanding Creativity
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Behind The Lens

This Southern Right Whale was photographed off the coast of South Africa. I was on a small boat out of the harbour at Hermanus, one of the best whale watching places in the world. In the appropriate season (June to November) whales can very often be seen from the shore and from the town itself. These whales spend summer in the far Southern Ocean feeding, then in the southern hemisphere winter months migrate to the coastal waters of South Africa to calve and mate and tend to their young before it is time to return south.
The trip out was in the afternoon. The image makes it appear that the sea was quite calm - far from it !! It was pretty rough and the boat was rocking constantly. Indeed from the upper deck the pitching could be quite violent and you had to somehow wedge yourself against a railing to avoid falling - the bruises took quite a while to fade ! Fortunately I don't suffer from motion sickness.
The light was ok. Not sunshine but quite bright.
The shot was from quite a few years ago with a modest Canon 350D underlining that you don't need fancy equipment to collect a good image. It was hand held of course, neither a tripod or even monopod being usable in the conditions. The image was taken at 1/640, f7.1 and ISO 200 with a Canon 100-400 at 170mm. If I was doing it now I'd want to push the speed nearer to 1/2000 by increasing ISO or opening the lens further.
Having seen the whales from shore I certainly wanted to get out there and get closer. I got quite a show. The early part of the trip was not too eventful but later one whale took a real interest in the boat and it was like it put on a performance, coming real close at times, diving right under the boat and coming out of the water at times. It was then I was able to get this shot.
The horizon in this shot was already remarkably straight - some of my other images were a bit crooked ! Just as well because what you see here is the whole frame with no cropping - a little bit of luck needed there. But as the great South African Gary Player said "the more I practice the luckier I get". Contrast needed boosted and colour balance corrected because of the sea light.
In my camera bag
Now I have 2 bodies, a Canon 70D and 80D. I don't want to risk having one fail while on a big trip. I have Canon lenses 10-22, 24-105L series and 100-400L series; the latter I use a lot for wildlife and sport. Given that the bodies have 1.6 crop sensors that gives me a huge range effectively up to 640mm.
Well you need to get to a place where whales are seen frequently and preferably where there is a chance of breaching and leaving the water rather than just barely touching the surface. Not easy ! Having your lens trained on the right spot where something is likely to happen involves a bit of luck and some inspired guessing. With a digital camera on high speed continuous mode you obviously have more chance of getting THE shot.

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