Image: Riding the Waves by Ellen Cuylaerts

Riding waves

Riding the Waves

On a recent dedicated photo trip to Dominica, we spent lots of time on the water looking for breathing sperm whales at the surface. Sperm whales have an unique echolocation system to hunt for squid at dark depths in average between 3000ft and 4000ft. But in between dives they can be spotted spouting at the surface. We went out on a Big Animals Expedition trip with expedition leader and personal friend Amanda Cotton.

Since most sperm whale encounters are very short due to their skittiness, we were all very happy to have an encounter with a cooperating whale: Amanda went in the water first and could keep up with the whale while I was a bit behind. She went for a ‘head’ shot with a duck dive in front of the whales head while the whale swam beneath the surface to check her out! The moment Amanda’s feet hit the surface and the whale is totally submersed, I pulled the shutter!

Uploading my pictures later that day, my husband and I remembered a previous picture I processed by rotating the image and thus creating a dream image. I tried it on this capture and here’s the result: Amanda Cotton seems to be enjoying ‘riding the waves’ while shooting a rare breaching sperm whale! Photography is all about creating your own world and the place in the picture is one I love to be!

Settings: Picture taken under permit in Dominica. Nikon D800, 16 mm Nikkor, natural light ISO 320 f9 1/125 Rotated and converted to B/W in Aperture

Find more of Ellen’s work here.