Monterey Bay

Whale Watching in Monterey Bay, California

I realized several years ago that sometimes, between trips, I needed a way to get out and practice my photography. And by practice, I mean shooting in situations that are new, or not that familiar, in order to get myself up to speed before a big trip. I’m not one of those that carries my camera around with me all the time. That’s what my smartphone is for (results on Instagram). There really isn’t that much that taking photos of graffiti around San Francisco can prepare you for when you’re heading to the Arctic, you know what I mean? ¬†So the trick is to find something near by that approximates some of the shooting conditions you’d find in the place you’re planning on going and then go and shoot there.

So before heading to Antarctica, last fall I went out whale watching to get some more practice shooting from a boat (and really exercising the VR capabilities on my new lens). It was so much fun, that I decided to do it again this summer when word got around of the big run of anchovies in Monterey Bay and all the humpbacks that had some to take advantage of it.

So I ended up going out two weeks in a row, and here are a few of the shots I got:

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The wildness around us

This past week has been crazy busy, so I’ve fallen behind on the blog-writing, but it seemed like a good time to remind everyone (living in North America that is*): we have amazing wildlife, and great opportunities to photograph it, all over.

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I think some of us, myself included, get a little jaded since we can just drive a couple hours (or even less), sign up for a whale watching trip, and photograph humpback (or gray) whales like it’s no big thing. It is a big thing! Just ask anyone from Europe. I didn’t understand this til I was on a whale watching trip in Iceland, and when we spotted a whale spyhopping in the distance, a French woman half-gasped, half-screamed when she saw it. She had never seen a whale. I see them often enough that if it’s not close, if it’s not in good light, I can hardly be bothered!

Iceland.

The trip photographed here was last year during a sardine run — there were so many humpback whales in Monterey Bay that we simply lost count of how many we saw — it got to the point that people would just gesture into the distance and mutter under their breath “whale” every time they saw one, as opposed to the excited pointing and yelling that were going on at the beginning of the trip.

Iceland.

So while dreaming of faraway destinations where you can view and photograph exotic wildlife…. don’t forget that you can go out and photograph¬†whales, flocks of migrating birds, deer, bears, eagles, coyotes, etc in pretty much every part of the United States and Canada — we have so much wildness around us.

And with that note, I’m going down to Monterey Bay to try and spot some humpbacks feeding on big schools of anchovies.

Iceland.

*I know there are lots of places in Europe with wildlife very nearby, but I feel it’s more immediately available in North America, with it’s shorter history of cities and large groups of people. We really did move into wildlife’s territory and that’s very clear sometimes when they come and take it back