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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48 Responses to “Orca and Mount Baker”

  1. Kris Koeller says:

    Pretty amazing. Well-done.
    Kris Koeller recently posted..High Above Victoria HarborMy Profile

  2. Charles Seling says:

    I wanna come play in your backyard!

  3. 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. :)

    • 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 :)

  4. Bob Perry says:

    Great shot Anne… Persistence pays off

  5. Len Saltiel says:

    This is awesome catch Anne. Sometimes everything works out perfect.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..Pemaquid DawnMy Profile

  6. That’s an awesome shot Anne! Congrats on both the good luck and being ready to take advantage of it.
    Jackson Frishman recently posted..Waterfall Road TripMy Profile

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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 !!!!

    • 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!

  9. I know exactly what you mean! This great pay off has reinforced my determination to keep trying to get the perfect shot.

  10. JR 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

    • 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.

  11. Kaz says:


  12. 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

    • 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!

  13. Well done. Next month’s National Geographic cover?

  14. Judy Hendren says:

    Hi Anne, what a beautiful serene image, I can only imagine how excited you would of been taking this shot, it’s a ripper. Keep enjoying the moment. cheers Judy
    Judy Hendren recently posted..Trip on Fraser Island, Qld, Australia.My Profile

  15. 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.

  16. 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

    • 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!

  17. Bill Bean says:

    Beautiful! One of my favorite places on the planet and a stunning image to boot. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Amazing! I am really happy for you. This is an amazing shot, a dream come true.
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Trattoria Baita Belvedere, Bellagio. Welcome to the Family FarmMy Profile

  19. Sherry 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!

  20. Darlene Ector says:

    Absolutely gorgeous shot! Classic west coast scene. Thank you Anne!

  21. Arianwen 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

    • 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.

  22. Glad your persistence paid off Anne! It’s a beautiful shot!
    Michael Glover recently posted..Silver BulletMy Profile

  23. 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.

  24. Wow, big and bigger: that’s great stuff, Anne! And to be the only one there, that would be something like a personal greeting from both the orca and Baker. I’d love to see the rest of the photo-shoot!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..Vancouver summertime photo review, from Canada DayMy Profile

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