Alaska

More 5/27: Cruising Through Chatham Strait

We departed Klawock after lunch, and at 1pm we were passing by the local sawmill – another industry supporting those who live in Klawock:

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We cruised for a couple of hours, all the time keeping a lookout for whales.  They’re out there, you know…  At 3pm we had our first sighting (at least that’s the first one we saw).  Pretty far out there, but definitely a humpback whale:

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Mid-afternoon wasn’t the greatest time for photos, especially with the water being a little choppy.  But, that didn’t stop us.  Rather than show you lots of pics with a little bit of whale, here’s a collage made up from one of them, as he was preparing to do a dive – we watched this type of action for about an hour:

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We were happy – we’d seen more whales.  But, wouldn’t it be nicer if they came a little closer to the boat? We did see more whales, but they kept their distance from the ship:

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In the meantime, a bald eagle flew overhead, checking us out:

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And, some of us entertained ourselves by playing a new version of “Capture the Flag.”  The goal was to get a shot of the Un-Cruise banner with all the letters showing:

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And then, we had some whales venture a little closer:

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While they weren’t right next to the boat, it was possible to get a good photograph with a zoom lens, or a good view with the binoculars.  Here’s a series taken of the same whale as he/she does a dive:

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Warning – this next section may only be of interest to photographers.  So, how close were we?  I have no idea, and didn’t think to ask the guides.  It might be possible to calculate the approximate distance, given the size of a whale fluke, the focal length of the lens, and the resolution of the camera sensor, but that seems like a lot of work.  All I cared about was getting a decent photo, even if I had to crop it in Lightroom after the fact.

To illustrate this point, here is one of the shots I showed in the first collage – when the whale was really, really far away:

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You can definitely see that it is a whale, and the photo doesn’t look too bad in the mini-collage.  But, it lacks sharpness and detail, and there’s not much you can do with it.  The screenshot below shows the photo in Lightroom, and gives the context of just how small an area was cropped out to produce the final photo:

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Here is a similar shot when the whales were closer to the ship:

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Still not perfect, but it’s much easier to do something with this shot than the first one.  The crop rectangle for this pic is much larger than the one above.  Here’s a Lightroom view which shows what it looked like before cropping, and how much of the whale it would show if cropped to about the same dimensions as the far-away tail:

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Confused yet?  It really doesn’t matter – just wanted to give an idea of what we meant by “closer to the ship.”  (These were all shot with a Canon 5DMIII using a 100-400mm zoom lens at 375mm).

Semi-Technical Discussion Over – we won’t go through this again.  There will be more whales coming up in future posts (yay!), and I’ll just comment if they were really really far away, far away, or pretty close …

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We watched the whales until Happy Hour, then I took a break before Lou signed me up for Whale Watcher’s Anonymous.  Lou chose the duck for dinner and said it was some of the best he’d had. Around 8pm, I was back on deck, planning to try for sunset shots:

At 8:15pm, the water had calmed down, and a little color was building in the sky

At 8:15pm, the water had calmed down, and a little color was building in the sky

 

A different view before 8:30pm - some color, and some interesting clouds, but it was still very light outside.

A different view before 8:30pm – some color, and some interesting clouds, but it was still very light outside.

 

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Watch Out !!! You never know what danger lurks around the corner …

 

Couldn't really get a good sunset photo, even though the colors and clouds were strong.  So, I did what any Instagram user does, and applied a filter to turn it into art (or not!)

Couldn’t really get a good sunset photo, even though the colors and clouds were strong. So, I did what any Instagram user does, and applied a filter to turn it into art (or not!)

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