Paying homage to Mt. Baker
I traveled to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state specifically to capture images of the Orca whales. I learned that it is not an easy task to photograph elusive sea animals on a rocking boat in the middle of the Salish Sea. The usual camera settings are tossed out when faced with the sharp contrast of sea and sky and with the dark animals surfacing erratically for only a second or two somewhere in the vastness of the ocean. I fully understood the term "sea legs" after several days of balancing in the boat, while balancing my camera as best I could while attempting to maintain a somewhat straight horizon. When the whale spouts are visible, and the boat is as close as it can be to the animal, one must listen carefully for the spray with camera ready to focus and shoot immediately at the slightest disturbance of the water. One must learn to read whale behavior and anticipate where they might surface. Another caveat - boats must give killer whales a 200-yard berth which creates quite a distance for shooting. The education I received about the inhabitants of the Salish Sea is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. The Orca pods are well-known by the locals and the researchers who study them. By the end of the tour, I could recognize a few of the whales and call them by name. Unfortunately, the sea is under attack due to pollution and climate change, and it is the animals within the sea who are suffering. The Orca pods are having difficulty locating enough food as their primary food source, Chinook salmon are no longer abundant. As a result, whales are starving and the population is in decline. Calves are still-born or not surviving their first year because the water is polluted with PCB chemicals intoxicating the mothers' milk. My image is titled "Paying Homage to Mt. Baker". This Orca seems to be bowing before the mountain to acknowledge his great creator and at the same time asking for mercy for his home under the sea.
160720DayOrcas177AIClearBlWhLightSmudgePrint2016Aaron's Photo ToursJulyOrcasSan Juan IslandsWashingtonresident Orcaswhales