Photo of the Day: Seal Yawn

A Leopard Seal yawning
Seal Stretch

The Set Up

On many occasions in Antarctica we would set out in 10-12 person zodiacs to explore the bays and harbours.  In the bays there were amazing icebergs, like yesterday’s photo, floating around, there were whales popping up to breath, and in many cases, seals relaxing on the ice.  Leopard  seals, Weddell’s seals, fur seals, and elephant seal were all common fixtures.

When you’re in the zodiac, you’re bouncing around a lot. It’s a bit of a gymnastics adventure, actually, trying to get into the right positions to make the photos.

So, I was crouched down in the zodiac on my knees waiting for the right moment. The zodiac spins around so everyone can get a view, so you kind of just need to be patient and wait for the perfect frame to evolve in front of you.

The Photograph

I took about 50% of my photos in Antarctica from a zodiac.  We had been floating around the seal for a while, and having about 20 pictures of dull calm seals I fired waiting patiently focused on this one for a while.  Actually my arm got so tired that I dropped the lens down a second and almost missed the shot.  You can see the lines that flow, which was no accident, and I assure you, very difficult to execute.

For the shutter heads out there, I shot this with my Canon 70-200mm at 200mm at an aperture of f/4 and a shutter speed of 1/125sec, ISO100.

In hindsight, my shutter speed was a bit low. But I was using a Canon t1i and it really doesn’t handle noise well at all. I was worried about having grain on the seal. I probably should have been more worried about sharpness.

Luckily, the image came out tack sharp, and I’ve very happy with the image.