Eyes on the Water

Harbor Seal, Crossfjord, Svalbard

Landing on a remote beach in arctic Svalbard, I was surprised to see this harbor seal – an animal I often see in the waters of Puget Sound near my home. Staying just offshore, he popped up repeatedly, curious to see who I was and what I was doing.

I think he grew especially interested when I lay down on my side next to the surf to get this seal-level view. Maybe he saw me as some sort of large, orange-coated seal, but he slowly came closer to get a better look, giving me the chance to take this picture.

Even with a simple portrait like this, I always look for a way to make a picture more engaging. I did that here by getting as close to the water’s surface as I could – in fact, I put the camera right on the sand and had to look sideways through the viewfinder. This gave the picture an intimacy that I could ever have gotten from a standing position. With the resulting shallow depth-of-field, the water largely disappears, giving the face – curious and unafraid – the emphasis it deserved.

Svalbard, Norway

Nikon D3 with 300mm f2.8 lens