I was out a mile or two off BlackRock sitting on the surfski when a calf surfaced about 75 yards away. It stayed on the surface and I could see it rolling and cavorting around.
It ended up swimming right over to me and of course I wondered where mom was and if she was watching. I decided to stick the camera housing in hand (80 mm lens) in the water and see if I could get some shots of the calf. Nothing came out. The mother surfaced right next to me and I pulled the camera out of the water and took some shots of here which more than filled the field of view. Unfortunately they were all blurred because of a sheet of water on the housing window. Mom and calf swam right under me and I put the camera back in the water to see if I could get any shots. Again full frame of whale part and focus bad. They swam off and underwater. I tried to review the images I captured and realized that I am wasting my time putting the long lens underwater. Duh! The other housing with the fisheye lens was strapped securely to the deck of the surfski. Having two heavy housing onboard is a bit much and the balance is difficult.
About 15 to 20 minutes later, the calf again showed up on the surface and not that far off.
The calf came right at me again and this time, I decided to secure the topsides camera and get the wide angle, rig ready. Unfortunately, the calf swam over to my port side and a bit aft. It was quite close to me. This required me to twist half way around and try to put the housing in the water without tipping over. I got the housing in the water and thought I had successfully taken some pictures. The next thing I knew, Mom's head was out of the water with a big blow right there! I assumed that the camera was facing them both head on and really close! For some reason, I didn't get a single shot here?!? To make matters worse, the orientation was such that the whales were backlit by the sun. I assume the camera just couldn't find a focus. I could see bright cyan below the surface from their pectoral fins. The were directly below me and then moved off to the port side and came closer to the surface, abeam of me. I guess at this point the camera found focus a couple times and I did get two photos:
I believe the whales will get closer if I remain in the boat but in retrospect, I regret not getting in the water on both of these encounters. I think if I just hung on to the boat and didn't make any moves towards the whales that they likely would still be in range for some great shots and it would be great to be able to compose the image and make certain the camera had a whale at the focus point. I had two great encounters with this mother and calf today and both were initiated by the curious calf.