Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Whale Of A Welcome

Glacier Bay Alaska is a waterworld of epic proportions. Majestic mountains, cold deep blue waters, wildlife in pristine locations, and views everywhere.

We have seen exciting whale action on two separate whale-watch cruises. Our first was on a blustery rainy day when the whales enjoyed the rough waters much more than we did. The second trip was much calmer, with diving whales and beautifully backlit spouts from their blowholes. One of our trips took us close to their escape route from Alaskan waters to the open warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean and their wintering grounds in Hawaii. They sure know how to live - summers in Alaska and winters in Hawaii.

Our captain was a skillful navigator and an expert on whale behavior. He brought us close enough on many occasions for great shots and the thrill of being close, but not too close, to these huge but gentle mammals.

When shooting wildlife, especially from a boat, a fast shutter speed is imperative. It helps freeze the motion of both the animal and the boat. 1/1250 of a second is generally the slowest speed I recommend for these situations. ISO 800 or less works well unless it is a very dark day, or early or late in the day. At those times it is OK to go up to ISO 1600, or even 3200 if that is the only way to get the shot. But I do not like the noise that results from a high ISO. Generally Lightroom does a good job of reducing the appearance of noise, but results diminish at ISO 3200 and higher. 

After shooting each day we returned to our lovely lodge to enjoy time in front of the big fireplace, gourmet dinners, and evening critiques and lively conversation. We have been enjoying a quintessential Alaska experience in all respects.

Shutter Speed 1/1250 sec.  Aperture f/13.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II set at 140mm.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The essence of life is not in the great victories and grand failures, but in the simple joys. "  -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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