Thebody of work featured below represents a seven year effort to explore andrefine the inspiration to create life-size photographs of whales. Becausewhales are so massive, I learned that a single photograph of a whale's bodycould never be brought to life-size dimensions no matter how many mega pixelsthe camera, or how wide the lens.
In the end I had to reinvent a whole new approach to photographing whales underwater. Instead of a wideangle lens, I use a portrait telephoto from a distance not more than six feetfrom my subject. Individual photographs are then composed along the body of thewhale in five foot wide sections. In this way, their true colors are revealedthrough the water column and all of the fine details and subtle tone changesare preserved as they would be seen in real life. The composite files are thenlaid out on a massive digital canvas where they are brought together to form asingle seamless photograph; a process that can take as many as 300 hours tocomplete.
Creating these photographs is a collaboration between species. Out of respect and for my own personalsafety I cannot swim up to or after a whale. Instead, I invest entire seasons, upto three months, with specific small groups of whales. During this time I willcome to know many of them as individuals. However, my real interest is to explore the possibility of awhale coming to know me as an individual and the potential to gain a deeperlevel of curiosity, trust, and acceptance. So typical days in the field can berather uneventful. I float among them at a distance where I observe and awaitan individual whale to initiate a close inspection of me less than six feetfrom my camera. If I am fortunate I may experience one or two such events in a field season.
In all, twenty eight photographs were created during this seven year period with several featured here. This body of work has exhibited internatinally including countries who continue to commercially hunt whales. The most rewarding experience in all of this work has been the discovery of a near universal response to the photographs no matter where they are shown. I've been left with the realization that with enough time and care with this approach, positive change is possible for these creatures and their ocean environment.
Withthese techniques now more refined, I'm moving toward a deeper exploration ofthe aesthetic relationships between behavior, light, and water with my subjects.