Whales' Scale Captured in Giant Photographs

Posted by David Ozanich — 20 Apr 2011

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Whale photography seems to be having a moment. Recently we saw these photos surface and now the Times is profiling Bryant Austin who is making life-size whale portraits. Long an avid photographer of these mighty giants of the sea, Austin realized that his regular photographs failed to capture the immense size and scale of his subjects. He decided to change that. Says the Times:

Working with five different whales from three species, he has created 25 true-scale pictures, including two full portraits -- each composed from dozens of photographs of different sections of the whale's body. The largest photo is a 6-by-30-foot portrait of a dwarf Minke whale from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the panels that make up the image weigh a total of 600 pounds.

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"The images are unique and true representations of beings so vastly alien to us, yet connected through the mammalian way," said Elizabeth Eyre, a whale biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney who has known Mr. Austin for years. "The sheer size of the portraits alone allows viewers to grasp the discrepancy in dimension between us and them." The images are also noteworthy for their remarkable detail. "Every parasite, scar, flake of peeling skin is visible," Ms. Eyre said.

The whole story is worth a read for nature photographers and even the casual whale fan. Some of these large-scale photos are on display at the Electric Works gallery in San Francisco until May 7th. One of the big ones can be yours for a measly 45K.

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