Each year here in Australia we have a significant photography "competition" that relates to nature photography. I have been to many of the exhibitions and love the content. Ever since I spent a night with 6 stranded sperm whales, and captured the images you see here, I have wanted to enter some of the images into this competition.
It was an incredibly complex scene. These amazing creatures dead. A beautiful scene as the sun retreated and a huge moon rose. I desperately wanted to create a series of images that represented the majesty of the animals, but the reality of the situation. The hardest thing for me was watching the way others were behaving. There were a lot of people watching from the shore, but many who were down with the whales being what, in my mind, disrespectful. Touching, climbing and later in the night trying to extract teeth from the animals.
2 days after this series of images was taken I was working for the South Australian Museum recording the astonishing process they go through to prepare the whales for burial. 2 of them were basically dissected to recover information that helps in the preservation of the species. It was an experience I will never forget. Even looking at the images brings back the pungent, unexplainable smell I experienced. It was indescribable. They were all buried in the sand.
So every year I get all excited and go back to the images I have and ponder entering them into competition, but always end up right where I am now, deciding not to. As soon as you enter them into competition you give away all rights to them. But more importantly I just can't fathom people seeing the images without understanding the context. Yes all images are open to interpretation, but this night I wanted to create images that were my way of showing respect. I did not touch any of the whales (there were dicks climbing on them!). I sat for hours waiting for the light to come just sitting with them, in awe really.
As far as the images go, they were incredibly difficult to capture. The mud was so soft, at some stages almost up to my knees. The main issue was getting the tripod stable, there were many blurry captures. The moon was incredible bright, which was lovely, but this put the near side of the whales completely in shadow. But all in all I was wrapped with the final product. I think we should keep them to ourselves, what do you think?