WPY 2016

Photograph Details

Finalist 2016

Black and White

Christopher Swann, UK

Smooth swimmer

Christopher was looking for cetaceans around the Canary Islands, before setting sail across the Atlantic. Waiting for a still, windless day when the water was perfectly smooth, he had a particular shot in mind. ‘I knew the angle I wanted of a surfacing pilot whale,’ he says, ‘but it only suited a silky sea’.

Contrary to what their name suggests, pilot whales are actually members of the dolphin family. Their name comes from an old idea that groups were piloted by leaders. They are highly social and form strong bonds – super-pods of several hundred have been known – which might be why they are susceptible to mass strandings.

Technical specification

Nikon D200; 70-200mm f2.8 lens at 140mm; 1/1000 sec at f2.8; ISO 200.


Canary Islands, Spain: latitude 28.115751, longitude -16.309683 Canary Islands, Spain: latitude 28.115751, longitude -16.309683

Canary Islands, Spain

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Christopher Swann

Christopher Swann, UK

Christopher has spent most of his life at sea, working in the both the Royal Navy and oil industry. Having sailed square riggers for a few years, he set up his own charter company specialising in whales and dolphins, and is currently crossing the South Pacific.