Many years ago I studied to be a photojournalist – and one of the key elements to success was getting your timing down for capturing the moment – the gesture, expression, the peak of the action. I didn’t go on to be a photojournalist, but the training taught me about developing a sixth sense – that feeling that something was about to happen, and being prepared for it when/if I was right. I took this idea and technique into my career as an outdoor and nature photography and it has been so useful! I’ve been able to capture birds squawking, animals yawning, bears playfighting, and it’s been great. I also learned how to photograph with both eyes open when necessary, to see a broader area of the ‘field’ to be ready for the action. But in Alaska, or anywhere on water, I’m challenged – just how in the heck do you see what’s going on under water to get a feeling for where the action might surface? You don’t. You stand, poised, with lens/camera raised to your face, watching with your left eye open and right eye at the finder. But you still don’t know where those pesky whales are. So you try another method: you hold the camera up near your face, but scan the horizon with both eyes wide open, ready to bring the camera to your eye if you see something beginning to happen on the water’s surface. You stay as loose as possible to be able to respond to any action. But with all of that, there’s just no guarantee. So when you get your timing right, and the tail lines up with the dorsal fin oh-so-nicely, and the water is calm and reflective, well you just have to know that it’s 8 parts luck and 2 parts preparedness. Yes, you were ‘at the ready’ and watching, anticipating, settings all appropriate; but it’s the whale that determines what chance you have of making a great picture!  I always say ‘thank you’ after moments like this.


We’ll be going back to Glacier Bay in 2011 – check our workshop and tour schedule for information.

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