OLYMPIA, Wash. — Retired firefighter Chris Hamilton almost always has something to show for a day spent out on the water. Photographs from a day often spent in the company of orca whales.
“Well it is always uplifting,” Hamilton said. “It always makes me smile and lights my day up.”
From Boston Harbor Marina, we head north to meet up with whales in Case Inlet.
“We don't want to disturb them or alter their behavior in any way,” Hamilton said.
We follow federal regulations and stay 200 yards away. Even on calm water, this does not make for ideal video.
“Everybody really wants to get close to them and that is the problem,” Hamilton said. “They are better off viewed from a distance. And photographed from a distance.”
So how does Chris get so close? He’s got a 600 mm zoom lens. That means while I'm shooting video that might make a viewer seasick, Hamilton is getting rock solid shots of his favorite animals.
Chris Hamilton's orca photos
“The orcas are fascinating,” he said. “The orcas that we get down here are the transients. They're mammal eaters.”
They're healthier than our resident whales who rely mainly on salmon and whose number sadly seem to be dwindling
“We have to be very creative and diligent about building the salmon runs back up so they have something to eat,” Hamilton said.
Because generations to come should be able to enjoy such picture perfect days in the company of whales.
“I love it," Hamilton said. “It is paradise. It is paradise.”