WPY 2017

Photograph Details

Finalist 2017

Animal Portraits

Wade Hughes, Australia

The look of a whale

The female humpback whale repeatedly approached Wade, her eye wide open to get a good look. She had recently given birth and was probably sizing him up to see if he posed any risk to her calf. ‘With a close-up portrait, I wanted to capture something of the intensity of her look and her intelligence,’ says Wade.

The circular scars of whale barnacles are testament to the long lives of humpback whales. Their life expectancy – 60 to 70 years – is similar to ours. The warm waters around Vava‘u are the whales’ winter breeding ground. In a few weeks the mothers will lead their young calves more than 5,000 kilometres back to the krill-rich waters of Antarctica.

Technical specification

Canon 5D; 24–105mm f4 lens; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 400; Nauticam housing.


Vava‘u, Kingdom of Tonga: latitude -18.621384, longitude -173.992 Vava‘u, Kingdom of Tonga: latitude -18.621384, longitude -173.992

Vava‘u, Kingdom of Tonga

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Wade Hughes

Wade Hughes, Australia

Wade is a Member of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. As a conservation photographer, he donates his work to organisations dedicated to research, education and the promotion of conservation. His work is extensively published in photography magazines and he has received awards in several international competitions. He is also a sought-after public speaker.