Tag Archives: Pacific

“Voice of the Pacific”

“Voice of the Pacific”

“I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water and the sky, studying each wave, different from the last, seeing how it caught the light, the air, the wind; watching patterns, the sweep of it all, and letting it take me.
The sea.” 
― Gary Paulsen

As in the quote I selected, I spent a lot of time sitting on the shore, filling my lungs with the wonderful smell of the ocean, watching the waves as they thundered to shore, and listening to the complex sounds of the waves as they crashed, churned, and receeeded . The sound is the inspiration for the title of this image. The words “Voice of the Pacific” resonated through me, as I sat entranced the marvel and sheer power of this mighty ocean.

I was trying to do it justice through many shots of waves captured at different speeds and different times of day and then felt inspired to use the same technique I use for my abstract tree images and tried a horizontal pan. It took many shots to get what I was after but I am pleased with the result.

The image above captures many of the elements which I found myself observing from the shore: the roll and foam of the waves as they crashed and collided with the shore and each other, the subtle shades of green and aqua within the waves, the movement of the water, and the vast expanse of water on the distant horizon. From this vantage point, looking due south, there is only ocean for thousands of kilometers, till the ocean meets the far distant shores of Antarctica. it’s quite overwhelming.

As I look at the image, It brings back very clear memories of this time I had with the sea, mere weeks ago now. I still here the voice of the Pacific becoming my return and I will return to hear what more it has to offer me.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 116mm
1/4 sec, f/36.0 ISO 100

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“Pacific Surge”

“Leading Edge”“Passing Wave”“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.
― John F. Kennedy

On this rare occasion, I am posting two photos on the same post. The two are necessary to show just how intense even a slight surge can be when it come to the vast body of water known as the Pacific Ocean.

The photos were made on our way back in from whale watching. I had not paid much attention to the water, since I was so focused on observing and photographing the whales (see my previous posts). In a few of those photos, you can see other vessels dropping behind waves but it was even more pronounced as we came closer to shore and I could see just how high some of these swells really were.

At first glance, you might think it’s simply my horizon that is off, yet the horizon is perfectly level, but the boat I was in was riding the lead edge of a wave. Again, I was really more focused on photographing the surf on the rocks and it was not till I started reviewing the images that I noticed just how intense these surges really were. I guess I had my sea legs, since it did not bother me at all.

The first image is of the rocky coast just north of Cabo san Lucas, Mexico. The rocks are polished smooth by eons of wear by the ever active ocean and are part of the thirty million year old granite structure that makes up most of the Baja Peninsula. A pelican graces the top of one of the lower spires. Can you see it?

The second image shows the wave as it passes by next to the boat, obscuring most of the rocks visible in the first image. I’d estimate the swells to be about two to three meters high. It’s a bit disappointing that I did not use a narrower aperture because the camera now focused on the water, rather than the shoreline. Next time I’ll manually focus. I also zoomed out a bit to show the size of the waves.

Image 1.
Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 300 mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

Image 2.
Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200

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“Splash!”

“Splash!”

“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
― Christopher Paolini

I’m noticing that all my titles have become single words. That’s partially because I’m struggling to find suitable words to describe this experience fully, so it’s coming in snippets.

This image is of a female Humpback Whale as it crashes to the surface after a breach. She has propelled her massive body from the water and twisted in the air, to return to the sea on her side. The other thing this photo shows is the ocean conditions when the image was made. If you’ll notice the fishing boat to the far right, you will see only part of it behind one of the large swells we were experiencing on this excursion.

The Pacific Ocean is not for the faint of heart. Even on this relatively calm day, the swells were over two meters high, so our small Zodiac disappeared into the troughs, obscuring our view of anything but water. Interestingly, I hardly noticed it at the time, being so focussed on the marvel playing out before my eyes, though I do distinctly recall my legs cramping up from bracing myself against the continuous rolling movement of the boat.

Of the numerous images I made of the breaching ritual, this one, I think, best shows the shear force of the whale’s bulk slamming onto the water surface as well as giving a glimpse of the rugged shoreline of the Baja Peninsula.

It’s also been recently discovered, in theory, why the whales expend so much energy in these breathtaking surface activities: they are communicating, and surface activity (breaching and fin/tail slapping) increases on windy days, when the oceans are more turbulent, and thus, noisier.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 300 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200

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“Behemoth”

“Behemoth”

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
― Werner Herzog

This massive Humpback Whale is the cow in the pair I have been sharing over the past several days.

As I’ve stated earlier, the sheer size of these creatures is incredible. Then, to see them surging from the ocean like this and smashing down in a burst of spray and foam simply leaves you in awe.

The photos and  words hardly do them justice, but try to imagine sitting in a relatively small, open boat, about a kilometer from the coast, rolling on the Pacific Ocean swells, watching  the dark waves rolling around you. A massive back rises from the waves, just a few meters away, followed by a tail, both disappear into the depths. You sit in silence scanning the waters for some sign as to where the whale, now diving deep in preparation for a breach, may have gone. Then, without warning, a few hundred meters away from your tiny vessel, a black mass erupts from the water, towering ever higher. You wonder how this is even possible and recognise the energy required to do this. The whale twists slightly to one side and slams into the water, leaving just a trace of bubbles as evidence of this act of grace and power.

I’ll soon be closing off my series of whale images but will always hold the memories of this spectacle of nature for the rest of my life. It will be hard to top, but life always has new adventures in store.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 300 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200

High Resolution image on 500px

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“Hang Time”

“Hang Time”

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.”
― Gloria Steinem

The next in my series of whale photos is this Humpback calf, as it defies gravity, leaping from the ocean waters in a graceful twist.

It is unbelievable to witness this ‘breeching’ ritual. The calf is already close to eight meters long and would weigh about fifteen thousand kilograms. The sheer power to launch this mass from the water is incredible.

We witnessed this calf and her mother breaching and ‘pec slapping’, whereby they float on their backs and wave their pectoral fins above the water, occasionally slapping the water. The cow starts and the calf soon imitates her. She seems to be teaching the behaviour.

After a few minutes of ‘finning’, they flipped over and waved their tails. See yesterday’s post for that image. Then, the tails disappear, as they dive deep, in preparation of a ‘breech’. We sat in anticipation, not knowing where they would surface, knowing they hold their breath for up to nine minutes. Then, just a short distance from our boat, the calf bursts forth in this amazing leap, only a small portion of the tail fin still remaining in the water. Shortly thereafter, the cow also erupted from the depths, but I think her sheer mass prevents her from achieving the same height. As you can see from my camera settings below, this was shot at 135mm, so it was very close to our boat.

It’s simply awe inspiring and I feel blessed to have been there to witness, and photograph, this amazing display of strength and grace, which continued for some twenty minutes.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 135 mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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