Hide and Seek
Justin Hofman was at the right place at the right time with this right whale.
The look-twice photo has captured imaginations around the web with its juxtaposition of the right whale's humongous mass with a small boat.
The irony is that right whales are among the gentlest creatures on Earth and are endangered because of human activities.
Hofman was recently on a trip on the vessel National Geographic Explorer, diving off Argentina's Patagonian coast from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and photographing southern right whales.
He used an SLR camera and an underwater video camera, getting as close to the curious, quiet, and shy animals as he could.
"Almost all [the images] are within six feet," Hofman said in an interview.
Shooting the photographs required a lot of planning.
"I was picturing the event almost every night before getting to sleep," Hofman said, explaining that his group’s diving permit was for just a single day. "I was almost obsessed with the right whales because I knew we'd only get one chance."
"Valdes Peninsula [off the coast of Argentina, where the shots were taken] is an incredibly windy place that can be closed down any day of the year, so us having the permit for only one day was a huge gamble."
As this photo has made the rounds online, some have questioned its veracity.
"I've gotten a lot of emails and comments about the over/under shot being fake," Hofman said. "I promise everyone that this is not a composition of two photos and was only possible with the help of a skillful boat handler who placed the boat in the perfect position."
Photographer Captures Astonishing Images of Southern Right Whales
Justin Hofman's stunning photographs of southern right whales showcase their beauty and gentleness—and their enormity.