Beauty in the Gloom

The classic orca images we see in posters of large dorsal finned animals cruising in pods through misty fjords are almost a clichéd view of the majesty of the orca. They are however just a surface glimpse, the tip of the orca, of their amazing lives below the surface.

Here in Skjervøy in November there is very little light, the visibility underwater not so great and the orca are often swimming very fast. Little surprise most images are captured at the surface. To capture this image underwater I am having to shoot around ISO 5000 with a wide open f/2.8 aperture and pan with a fast shutter speed.

After multiple frustrating attempts over days at composition, focus, timing and just waiting it soon became obvious in these gloomy conditions that our eyes and our hearts are a far better tools than my camera will ever be. In the dim light and often at the limit of visibility we have been able to observe, appreciate, sometimes even laugh at, and hopefully learn a little more about the orca as they hunt and play and socialise and be themselves.

I can’t possibly capture how breathtakingly beautiful the orca are underwater. That challenge extends far beyond just the gloom and the visibility to their extraordinary presence, power and grace. I am however grateful to be given the opportunity to try and will be back for certain.

Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Beauty in the Gloom’, 1/160s f/2.8 ISO5000 35mm

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