Friday, September 9, 2016

On Whale Watching and the Psychology of Photography

The guy next to me didn't look up from his camera viewfinder for the duration of the spectacle. He watched the glory of nature through a tiny little screen instead of enjoying the awe in actual space and time.

I grabbed only this one, mediocre photo because I was too busy smiling and laughing at the delight of watching humpback whales soar out of the ocean like Michael Jordan dunking from the free throw line. Equal parts power and grace, a dozen times over.

The humpback whales hang out around Puerto Lopez, Ecuador from June to September and my timing has finally landed me in the right place for whale watching. Best $25 I've spent in awhile.

It was amazing.

You have already seen pictures and video of whales breaching so any photos I could add would be redundant.

Why do we so often think that the most important part of such a sight is to get a good photograph of it?

Is it because we are a professional photographer? Unlikely.
Is it so we can remember it years later? Perhaps, but then shouldn't just a couple decent shots suffice?
Is it so we can impress our friends and family with our exploits? Probably. This is because we need to stroke our egos.

It reminds me of my time in Indonesia when I had this amazing experience with wild orangutans. Sure, I snapped a couple photos for my scrapbook. But I was amazed how everyone else spent far more time with their eyes glued to their tiny camera device screens than on the actual wild orangutans that were hanging from vines 10 feet in front of us. Like these whales, I'll never forget the orangutan experience and that isn't because I have photos. It's because it kicked ass and I paid attention.

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