f 4.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, 17mm
I traveled to photograph the humpback whales in the calving and breeding grounds off the coast of the Dominican Republic. I wanted to photograph the interaction of the mothers and calves, but after my first encounter in the water with them, my main photographic goal was to capture an image that conveyed what it is like to have a close-up encounter with such a huge animal. Divers are required to maintain a certain distance from the whales at all times, but the whales can approach as close as they want to you. My personal encounter happened when this whale swam right up to me, and turned on its side and stared straight into my eyes. I felt like I truly had some sort of connection with this huge, intelligent, gentle giant. We locked eyes for maybe a full minute, then it very subtly moved its fluke and lowered its pectoral fins so they wouldn’t collide with me. I hardly felt the movement of the water as this enormous creature glided past me. I have had countless wildlife encounters, but this one had the most impact on me.