Breaching Humpback Whale

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 17 Comments

Breaching Humpback Whale photo, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Breaching Humpback Whale photo, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

I know it is late to be posting to the blog tonight, but I just got in from a wonderful overnight trip to Northwestern Fjord in Kenai Fjords National Park, and was excited to share this photo.

What a sight to see!  A photo just doesn’t do this experience justice, as it is unable to communicate the powerful sounds and energy created when an animal the size of a school bus, rises out of the ocean and then splashes back down in a huge wave of water.  This is really cool to see up close!

This is full frame with my 100-400 at 400.  I was shooting with an ISO of  640 because I needed all the shutter speed I could get on this cloudy day.  This gave me a shutter speed of 1/2000 at f/5.6.  The hard part is locating the whale, framing and focusing while it is still out of the water.

Here are more whale photos.

Comments 17

  1. Every photograph I see of yours makes me more determined to return to Alaska. The whale is awesome. keep them coming !!
    Cheers Nina

  2. I’ve tried to shoot whales a couple times and know how hard it is. Especially combined with the jaw dropping awe of just seeing them in person. This image captures that awe well.

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  4. This is amazing Ron. You’ve shot a lot of memorable wildlife photos but this is a classic! I think I’d be scared of getting capsized by the splash.

  5. Yeah… Wow.
    That is all I can say. Cloudy days are great for this kind of shot. I’ll be down in early August for 2 days out on the boat. I was excited before… now the time is just gonna tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick by… Thanks for that:)

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    Thanks Richard! Yeah it was nice to be in a decent sized boat!

    Thanks Dave! I agree, clouds can be a big help for this kind of stuff. As long as it isn’t raining and blowing too hard – seas were pretty nice here as you can see. I hope you have good weather in August!

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  8. You guys are right about the overcast sky. I enjoy all the texture and variation in tone on the whale’s skin. I was happy to have a bit brighter light when I went out because I need to to keep the ISO even lower on my old camera while maintaining those super fast shutter speeds. Excellent image!

  9. Wow Ron, killer image. I’m jealous. I have been on 3 trips on Prince William Sound out of Valdez and not had any breaching whales to photograph. The pinks were running last week and the eagles, bears and sea lions were in feeding on fish. The tide and light worked out well for some keepers.

    I love your porcupette image below!

    Thanks again for the Wrangell advise.

    Blue Skies.

  10. Wow Ron, I can think of no better experience than being so close to a breach. I remember the difficulty just trying to capture a tail when I was down near Dominica.

    I have always wondered what the whale must be thinking when they see what things are like above the surface.

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    Thanks again everyone!

    Kent, I thought you had the 5D II?

    Looks like you had great success in Valdez Ken!

    Mark – I hear ya – we were wondering the same thing – what are they thinking of us!

  12. Hi Ron, the breaching humpback image still eludes me. I don’t get to spend enough time with these guys. Wondeful shot you got. I can’t remember if you are a “believer” in the quality of 1he 100-400 or not. Seems to me you weren’t. Anyway, hope this image is sharp enough for you; looks beautiful to me with great detail in the whale.

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    Hi Milo,

    Thanks Man! Your whale collection is very impressive – it is just a matter of time to you capture a breacher!

    Yeah, I’m not a big 100-400 fan, I would say the quality is adequate. Looking at 21 mp files doesn’t do this lens any favors either. It is sure a convenient lens for use on the water. Fortunately, this image looks pretty sharp – as sharp as can be expected.

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