Faking it as a wildlife photographer with the Humpbacks 

Whale Soup in Alaska by Richard Lewis

Whale Soup by Richard Lewis 2014

The title of this post does not advocate cooking whales. It is a term the locals use to describe a phenomenon where Humpback Whales will hunt in large groups to trap fish. When this happens, the sea fills with them. Humpbacks tend to be solitary animals. In Alaskan waters while eating to build up the stamina to swim south for the winter they will sometimes cooperate with each other.

We were very fortunate to witness this. All afternoon we had been watching the Orca and Humpback Whales, one or two at at time. At the end of the day, a large group of Humpbacks appeared all around our boat. We knew that this was something special when the crew appeared on deck to watch and take pictures. These folks see whales all the time along Alaska’s Inside Passage, so when they stop what they are doing and become whale watchers it really must be a unique experience.

I made hundreds of images of the whales all afternoon. It was raining so the photographs, while interesting, were soft and very flatly lit. The rain stopped for the first time in three days as evening approached and the sun started showing itself. Not only was there an abundance of whales in the “whale soup”, but the area was becoming beautifully backlit. While my emphasis is not wildlife photography, I do know that the quality of light is important no matter what type of subject one is photographing.


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