This is a North Pacific humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae kuzira) breaching just before 9:30pm on a summer night in Alaska.
The sun was low, just about to set, casting a warm yellow-orange glow across the ocean surface. The humidity was high, and there was the hint of a rainbow developing in the background, visible in the photo behind and forward of the whale.
There were six of us in a small boat—Doug, Steve, Kylie, Carolyn, Jon and me. We had spent several hours with a group of humpbacks engaged in their cooperative bubble-net feeding behaviour. It was time to call it day and head back to home base.
Just before we did though, I thought to myself, "It would be so cool if a whale would breach for us in the gorgeous light." And boom! Not 30 seconds later, this whale obliged.
Actually, it was far away and on the wrong side of the sun (so inconsiderate!). As we moved closer, the whale breached two more times (I think it was twice), always out of range and backlit.
Jon steered us to spot ahead of the previous breach and we stopped. We waited. Nothing. Truthfully, I (and probably everyone else) figured there was no chance of seeing the whale again.
Then I heard a shriek from my right.
I was of course facing left, with my camera down, none of my settings adjusted for the ambient conditions. Relying on sheer instinct and pure dumb luck, I swung around, lifted my camera, pointed and shot through the narrow angle of view that I had between Jon and Doug.
I'd like to claim that years of practice, skill and preparation allowed me to capture this unique image of a humpback whale breaching at night, but honestly, I still dunno how I got the shot. It is one of my all-time favorites.
This is a Collector's Edition Print. Each print is numbered and chopped with my logo. Sizes listed are the dimensions of the printed image in inches (see FAQ for equivalent sizes in centimeters). There is an additional white border around the image to allow for framing. A complete list of image and paper sizes can be found in the FAQ.