Face to Face with Minke Whales

25-Feb-2013 Back to Image Gallery

Face to Face with Minke Whales

This Minke whale was one of many photographed by our tour leader and photography instructor Josie Ruth during our annual Mike Ball Great Barrier Reef tours to the Ribbon Reefs, North Queensland aboard MV Spoilsport. This trip always provides spectacular coral reefs, a bio diversity of marine life, encounters with giant potato cod at the Cod Hole and Minke Whales. Minke whales are the most curious of all whales and providing our divers float motionless on the surface or on scuba during safety stops Minke whales will swim close to observe them. As often happens, curiosity got the better of this Minke whale and she swam face to face with our group of snorkelers floating behind MV Spoilsport on the stern rope. Josie followed the action with her camera on motor drive instantly recognising the image forming in her viewfinder, a special event of whale and human interaction, the cameras motor drive captured the magic moment in time!

Photo Data: Location: Lighthouse Reef, Great Barrier Reef, North Queensland. Genre: Wide Angle Sunlight. Photo Data: Nikon D300, 12–24mm lens at 12mm, Seacam Housing, ISO 200, Aperture Priority Mode and Motor drive. Sunlight Exposure F8 @ 1/300 sec. Image by Josie Ruth.

Photo Hints: Both compact & DSLR cameras work well in this situation. Use of a wide angle lens is essential for great pictures. Select a high ISO to ensure a fast shutter speed which avoids movement blur. Auto exposure modes are best for all big marine animal action but you will need to select some level of –EV control to ensure proper exposure. Use motor drive if you have a DSLR camera as the action is fast. Equipment Comments: The most valuable camera equipment accessory for surface photography is a 45 degree viewfinder. These viewfinders feature precision optics providing a magnified, bright view and the angle allows a photographer floating on the surface to follow action below. These viewfinders also swivel through 360 degrees providing accurate framing for both horizontal and vertical compositions from any angle.

Interesting Facts: Minke whales migrate from Antarctica to North Queensland to winter over during the months of June & July. The Ribbon reefs North of Cairns is the only location in the world that encounters between Minke whales and snorkel or scuba divers occur, truly an experience of a lifetime. We take divers and snorkelers there to rendezvous with the Minke whales every year as it is the ultimate big animal encounter experience, not to mention the spectacular Great Barrier Reef dive sites. During the trip we can provide lots of whale photography hints and tips!

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