Stephan Debelle  

Bora Bora Whale Watching by Stephan Debelle

November 2020 - Bora Bora Whale Watching

About the Image(s)

Taken late August - A Humpback and her calf off the coast of Bora Bora. A lot of swimming was required at first but she then settled near the reef and let us approach her.

This was the most fantastic photo opportunity I ever had:-). We were able to stay within fin distance for about 35min, a truly humbling experience; it is amazing how aware they are and how they make eye contact. I still have not processed all the shots I have.

Canon 5DS R - ISO 400 - 35 mm - f4.0 - 1/1250 processed in Lightroom

This round’s discussion is now closed!
13 comments posted

Karen Harris   Karen Harris
Great shot. Even better with the whole fin showing. :-)   Posted: 11/12/2020 10:51:12
Comment Image
Bob Legg   Bob Legg
Okay Karen. That's the second image that you have added something that appeared to be missing in the image posted. Perhaps you have access to the original? I agree with your suggestions, I'm just not sure how you uncovered the tail fin. An Excellent photo Stephan. 35mm. they were tightly close? I Love the reflection at the top surface.   Posted: 11/12/2020 14:04:14
Judy Burr   Judy Burr
Bob, I'd like to know too! I really need to work on processing.   Posted: 11/16/2020 15:44:06
Stephan Debelle   Stephan Debelle
Hi Karen, curious how you re-constructed the fin? If you don't mind sharing:-)   Posted: 11/16/2020 21:05:50
Karen Harris   Karen Harris
Reconstructing the fin was relatively easy. I just selected the other fin, copied and pasted it, then reversed it horizontally, and moved it into place. Then I went to transform, then rotate, to get it to the right angle. Then at the end I did a little cloning to blend it in. All was done on Photoshop CC.   Posted: 11/17/2020 09:59:12
Stephan Debelle   Stephan Debelle
Thank you! That worked well and I will have to give it a try on the original:-)   Posted: 11/17/2020 12:04:47

Stephan Debelle   Stephan Debelle
Intersting about the tail fin, I will have to look at my original - It is likely cut off. They were close, the calf kept on being playful and moving around and up & down. I was too close at some point, within touching distance and had to back off to try to frame the entire whale. The surface looks calm but we had 5-6' swells so framing them was a lot of fun while going up and down:-)   Posted: 11/12/2020 14:24:41

Kathleen Townsend   Kathleen Townsend
Stephen thanks for showing me something I will never see!
How awesome a shot and opportunity. The clarity of the water was super!   Posted: 11/12/2020 16:10:01

Bill Foy   Bill Foy
I think the sharpness and colors in this image are really good.

Stephan, I think we had a conversation about Underwater Photography which included my mentioning the Instagram account @sealegacy and the account of one of it's co-founders @paulnicklen. I have looked at A LOT of the images on those sites and there are whale pairings like this image in quite a few of the images. My suggestion would be that you move back and show the interaction between the whales in a wider view. It would show the difference in size as well as the vastness of the environment.   Posted: 11/14/2020 14:28:54
Stephan Debelle   Stephan Debelle
Hi Bill, I did take a look at @sealegacy and I follow quite a few similar accounts. Most of the time I use a 15 mm fish eye when photographing clients in the water - It is extremely rare to be so close to the whales and thus had decided to use my 16-35 which I have to adapt the housing using an extension on the dome. In this case the current pushed us towards the whales, to the point of being in touching distance. I had to back pedal very slowly to avoid any movement and not scare them away. I do have a few shots from further away but it was a long time dream to being able to be so close and have some close ups. I also have a few shots where you see another swimmer which gives a sense of the mama's size:-).   Posted: 11/15/2020 22:38:17
Judy Burr   Judy Burr
Bill, What a coincidence that you mention Paul Nicklin; he was our tundra buggy driver in Churchill eons ago. I heard him speak at NGS before I went to Antarctica and talked to him afterwards and it was the same person. He is from Baffin Island and has come a long way since we traveled with him! Can one see Instagram without an account??? I am already in too many groups.Judy   Posted: 11/16/2020 15:47:48
Bill Foy   Bill Foy
Judy, I don't know the answer to that since I have an IG account - @wherethehellisgdad

Try this - and

Let me know if that works.
  Posted: 11/17/2020 10:31:01

Judy Burr   Judy Burr
Stephen, I love this shot and am glad you had such an opportunity to photograph the creatures. We had a whale expert on several trips in AK which was a big plus.It is very nice the way it is, but I like the addition of the fin.   Posted: 11/16/2020 15:50:09