apex grin #1

Great white shark at the surface, Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 10.5mm, Sea&Sea YS-250 x 2

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google maps

In September I was lucky to spend several days with apex grinning predators in Mexico. We had really cool encounters I will never forget - in perfect clean blue water of Guadalupe Island with 30m viz ! I plan to go back for big project next year, meanwhile enjoy some of current shots ! :-)

humpback whales #4

myself getting closer to the humpback whale, Wild Coast, South Africa

Photo by Dave Caravias

Many asked me about "behind the scenes" of whale photography. Well, Two words describe process best - patience and endurance. Most of time whales are not exactly interested to socialize with you, and for them it takes only couple of tail movements to swim away from you very far. Most of the encounters are very brief 'fly-by' types, with very little actual interaction happening in the course.

For good results you have to find special situation - static whales occupied with something. We found two big male humpbacks this season in South Africa, doing some sort of dominance game on the surface. Huge bulls, making loud scary sounds like excited elephants. Of 6 people on the boat I was only one willing to get into water and approach them - such powerful was spectacle of splashes they created, people were bit afraid.

Well, visibility was not perfect too - about 6 meters at best. I jumped into water and started to make my way towards those giants. I could raise my head on the top and clearly see them on the surface. Put it back into water - only to be back into greenish milky substance - and some obscure shadows in front. I was moving very slowly since I was afraid to be hit by their pectoral fins - each about 3 meters long.

This is when something really scary happened. Remember - I told before that Sardine Run 2012 was without sardines. They failed to show up - but sharks, dolphins and photographers all came into area. I was suddenly hit into my leg above knee - quite hard. I sharply turned and saw huge 3.5m dusky shark - it came to check me out out of frustration - since I - and whales - were making splashing sounds, and sharks often associate them with fish on the surface.

I hit shark very hard with my camera. I think it was hardest blow I ever delivered on the shark - and I dove with bulls in Fiji many times ! Dusky turned, made circle and went straight at me again. After third hit I raised my hand and called skipper loudly, who was staying on zodiac about 50 meters away. Hearing engine sound shark went below me and disappeared.

In the end I managed to get close to those two males - and it was magnificient experience. Problem - I don't have very clean shots of them, since water was milky, but believe me - I was just 1 meter away from an eye of 16m long animal, biggest humpback whale I saw in my life, and I saw a few of them !

Those kind of adventures is the reason why I keep going into ocean. I feel alive and happy doing these kind of things. 2013 is promising to be interesting ! I will keep you posted on my adventures - and Happy New Year everyone ! ^_^

Also - if anybody interested - I posted story on my dusky shark shot from this year on Tetis - http://forum.tetis.ru/viewtopic.php?t=75620 - and it is in Russian ! Crazy shit ! Enjoy ! ^_^

humpback whales #3

Breaching humpback whale, Wild Coast, South Africa

Nikon D300 + Sigma 80-400mm

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google maps

Sometimes when I see image above and symmetric undewater one - http://pats0n.livejournal.com/339845.html - I can't stop thinking that humpback whales are great dancers, with signature moves constituting their own GangnamHumpback style ! ^_^

It's always incredible to see these 35 ton animals throwing themselves in the air with no seeming effort. I just don't want this to happen when I'm in the water next to them ! ^_^

In next post I will write about getting close to whales, since so many of you asked for it !

humpback whales #2

Breaching humpback whale, Wild Coast, South Africa

Nikon D300 + Sigma 80-400mm

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google maps

After heavy rain, storm and flood we had on our second, third and fourth day in Port St. Johns when we finally went to the sea on fifth day sky was interesting. Remains of storm clouds combined with low winter sun produced unusual hue - reddish colors on this photo are not photoshopped, they are real.

On that day we had several breaching humpback whale encounters, which resulted in some unusual images, like one above.

humpback whales #1

Humpback whale showing his belly, Wild Coast, South Africa

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 10.5mm, natural light

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google maps

Sometime ago I published theme dedicated to my encounters with sperm whales in Japan - http://pats0n.livejournal.com/tag/week015 - now it's time for humpback whales to take spotlight in my photo-stream ! ^_^

Humpbacks are without doubts the most photogenic whale specie. They have unusually long pectoral fins which they like to put to use while showing various acrobatic stunts on the surface or in the water. They like to breach throwing themselves completely into the air with just several movements of the powerful tail. Finally they are incredibly talented singers too, with their songs bearing very complex nature and serving various ritual and communication purposes.

This image was taken in July in South Africa - when one friendly specimen decided to stick with us for about 50 minutes, showing off his beautiful underwater dance.

japan mon amour #5

Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan

Canon EOS 350D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm

this is three exposure image tonemapped in Photomatix and color corrected in Photoshop

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google maps

Today I indulge into healthy dose of photo-kitsch with this "HDR" treatment of Imperial Palace in Tokyo - along with iconic and beautiful Nijubashi, "glasses bridge" as it popularly known among Tokyo residents.

On normal days Emperor Palace premises are closed for the public, and only once a year, on December 23rd, Emperor Akihito and his family welcome all well wishers to come inside and pay respect to the ancient monarchy. It is also good opportunity to observe beautiful inner garden of Emperor's Palace - very impressive sight especially for Japanese landscape gardens buffs like myself ^_^

japan mon amour #4

Acid lake Yugama, Gunma prefecture, Japan

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 12-24mm, polarizing filter

Wikipedia reference

Location on Google Maps

Japan is not only home to many cultural treasures, it has incredibly beautiful and diverse nature. Image above is not from Mars, it was taken in mountainous area near hot spring town of Kusatsu - just two hours away by train from Tokyo. This is real acid volcanic lake called Yugama - apparently if you step into it your boots will melt instantly ! So I decided not to dive and to take topside photo instead ^_^

japan mon amour #3

Entrance to Yamamoto-tei garden, Tokyo, Japan

Canon EOS-350D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm

this is three exposure image tonemapped in Photomatix and color-corrected in Photoshop

'Go Tokyo' reference

While Tokyo can't compete with Kyoto when it comes to beautiful gardens - Yamamoto-tei is one of the hidden gems in the Japanese capital. Located in obscure Katsushika-ku, it is virtually unknown to tourists. Even so it is probably finest Japanese garden in whole city. It is consistently rated as one of top 10 in the country as well.

It is famous for the green tea which is served on the premises - it helps to meditate in relaxed state while observing carefully crafted miniature mountains with little waterfalls, stone lanterns, beautifully shaped pine trees - all traditional elements you expect to see in the Japanese landscape garden.

However most striking thing for me in Yamamoto-tei is the entrance - which looks like portal taking you from the busy concrete town into the magic land of beauty and peace. I think it beautifully summarizes essence of modern Japan as place where old and new coexist in wonderful harmony.