Orca and Mount Baker

The thing I like best about Vancouver Island in the summertime is being out on my boat.

I have a few spots I return to again and again because I have seen whales, dall’s porpoises, pacific white sided dolphins, sea lions, or eagles.

One of my favourite spots is Boundary Pass where the border separates the Gulf Islands in Canada from the San Juan Islands in the USA. Here I frequently see Orcas and I have been waiting for years for that perfect moment when an Orca will pop up with Mount Baker, Washington, in the background. Preferably on a calm day when there are snow capped peaks.

Last week it finally happened and years of lugging my pelican case full of camera gear on and off the boat payed off when I captured an image I have dreamed of making.

Orca and Mount Baker by Anne McKinnell
Please click the image to view a larger version.

Not only did I get my shot, but I was the only one there. No whale watching boats, no other boats at all. It was sunny, I could feel the heat on my back, and I could hear nothing but the whale’s blow.

It was a special moment.

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  1. Denise says

    How great that you were able to capture that moment and received the validation for always having your camera with you! I’m just beginning to bring my camera along whenever I’m out and had a bit of that validation yesterday when a black bear came ambling out of a field and across the road in front of my car. Now I have to learn to have a faster reaction time! Too stunned to catch the shot, but good lesson learned.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photo. :)

    • says

      Hi Denise! I did that exact same thing. I was in Yosemite National Park and a bear came out right in front of me, he even stood up (it was just a baby bear so it didn’t freak me out too much when he stood up) but I was too stunned to get a photo even though I had my camera in my hand ready to go. I just froze. But I’m glad I saw him and appreciated the moment. Maybe next time I’ll get a photo too. Thanks for the compliment on my photos :)

  2. dan says

    Dear Anne,

    Such stories inspires. As its about that moment with nature that not only rewards but let you be in peace with it.

    Honestly, I often wonder on what could excite a photographer such as yourself to get away from good perks of a job and live like a nomad. I know you had a good carrier in your previous incarnation, yet you changed your path and now spending time all alone in a lake capturing nature. I am curious.

    • says

      Hi Dan, I did have a great career but it just wasn’t fulfilling anymore. I guess I just came to a point in my life when living the life I really wanted was more important than making money. It’s times like this, when I am out in nature and I’m treated to a peaceful yet exciting scene and I get the chance to both appreciate the orca and capture an image I have dreamed of making that I know I chose the right path for me.

  3. André Massicotte says

    Memories … Having lived on the North End of Vancouver Island (Port Hardy) … it brings me back memories of Killer Whales in Campbell River or watching Eagles on some islands before or after scubba diving … Impressing pic but must have been a great moment… like WOW !!!!

    • says

      Hi Andre, It really was an awesome moment (and I say that the way the word is supposed to be used – it was awe inspiring). It’s the best part about this part of the world I think. Thanks for your visit and comments!

  4. says

    Hi Anne and Ray: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Luck really involves Learning, Location and Logistics. Testing, trying and timing. Planning, passion and patience pays-off. I miss the beauty of the NW. Great job. JR

    • says

      Hi JR, well said!! I’ll have to remember that. The NW is gorgeous this time of year. As soon as the great grey cloud of winter lifts it can be glorious here. Thanks for your comments.

  5. says

    Awesome photo Anne! I can see that being the type of shot that takes years to have come together. I actually saw my first wild whales on a ferry out of Horseshoe Bay last week, and while this didn’t result in photos it is pretty cool to see in our “backyard”! :)
    Michael Russell recently posted..Manning Provincial Park WildlifeMy Profile

    • says

      No way, your first wild whales? Well, I’m so glad you saw them, but really you have to get out on the ocean more often! If you want to get good photos, you could try one of the whale watching trips. They are well worth the money because they are a ton of fun even if you don’t get to see the whales. But they see them almost all the time. The ocean is the best part about our backyard :) Thanks for the comments Michael!

  6. Chris Cooke says

    That is one brave (Orcinus orca) to be swimming so close to Japan (Mount Fuji in the background) :)

    Just joking, superb image, lovely background all that is missing is the smell of the ocean.

  7. says

    Lovely – both the orca and Mt. Baker! This is also one of my favorite places. I will always remember one time we were there, more than 15 years ago now, in my little sailboat, and suddenly we were surrounded by a large pod of Dall’s porpoise – surfacing and diving all around us, very close to the boat. It was an amazing show that went on for quite some time. Of course it was when I was “between cameras”, so I have nada in the way of photos of that magical moment, alas!
    Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment recently posted..Fisgard: A Guiding LightMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Laurie, yes I see the Dall’s porpoises in Boundary Pass quite a bit too. One year I managed to take a little video of the porpoises swimming along side my boat. I’ll have to dig that up, maybe I can post it on my blog too. The Dall’s are so playful! I think they like it there because the water is so deep and cold. Thanks for the compliment Laurie!

  8. says

    I went kayaking around the San Juans a few years ago and saw some orcas. It was one of my favorite experiences. I loved living in the Pacific Northwest. And photo shows a big reason why – simply beautiful!

  9. says

    Orcas have been my favourite animals ever since I saw Free Willy as a kid! I tried to see them in Puerto Madryn in Argentina last year but to no avail. Apparently they’d made an appearance the day before. I guess you can’t win them all!
    Arianwen recently posted..Gone AWOL canyoning in PihaMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Arianwen, it does take a bit of luck to get see them, that’s for sure! Orcas are my favourite too. And elephants, love elephants. Oh and hippos! I like big animals I guess :) Thanks for your visit and comments.

  10. Pam says

    Congrats on the shot, Anne! I’ve got Mt Baker, but no Orca. You never know when the perfect shot will present itself! Glad you were in the right place at the right time.

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