Last week I visited the Museum of Monterey. We were in the area for a combination of vacation and college visits. I had received a postcard about a new photography exhibition and I was intrigued enough to make a side trip.
The reason for my visit was an exhibition of Byrant Austin's whale photography. As described below, Austin started making composite whale photographs in response to a very personal experience he had one day.
I've seen whales up close (we were sea kayaking in Alaska and a pod of whales began to bubble net feed, surfacing right next to us) and it was an experience that we still talk about as a family six years later. I felt a strong connection to the concept of Austin's mission, having felt the undeniable intelligence of these gentle giants while in Alaska. But I've never been in the water with whales -- though I have heard them singing while scuba diving -- and I really wanted to see what I was missing.
The photographs are incredible.
There were close-up images that really evoked a sense of personality and inquistiveness. Shown left to right here: Humpback Whale Calf 1341 (43 x 75 inches), Minke Whale Composite Portrait 1294 (4 feet x 5 feet), and Minke Whale Portrait 1186 (4 feet x 6 feet). There were black and white portraits, too, such as the full-length sperm whale portrait: Sperm Whale Composite One (5 feet x 20 feet)
I was so glad the museum had space to sit and contemplate the portraits and Austin's mission to educate the public about the majesty and value of these marvelous creatures. My apologies to him for the glare in my pictures that diminish his work; please go to his website to really see his photography.
If you'd like to learn more about Austin, his project, and his photography exhibitions, please read the following article from the NY Times and watch this TV news clip.