Wed, May 22, 2013 -- 10:00 AM

Photographer Bryant Austin's Close Up With Whales

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Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos
Humpback Whale Calf II (Beethoven), 2006
Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos
Humpback Whale Calf II (Beethoven), 2006

When photographer Bryant Austin came eye-to-eye with a humpback mother whale swimming with her calf, it changed his life. He decided he wanted to recreate that experience for others by making a life-sized print of a whale -- something that had never been done before. So he quit his job, sold his house, and flew to the South Pacific armed with only a snorkel and a camera. Bryant Austin joins us to talk about his book, "Beautiful Whale," and his secret to getting within three feet of the mammals, without them swimming away. We'll also talk to a marine biologist about the efforts to protect whales.

Host: Scott Shafer


  • Bryant Austin, photographer and author of the book "Beautiful Whale"
  • Isidore Szczepaniak, marine biologist with Golden Gate Cetacean Research; he has worked as a naturalist for the Oceanic Society since 1982 and teaches classes on marine mammals at San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences

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Some photos from 'Beautiful Whale'

Humpback mother and calf, Ha'apai Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, 2005. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

Sperm Whale Composite Two, April 2011. It took Bryant Austin four months to raise sufficient funding to build a computer powerful enough to complete this image measuring 10 feet by 36 feet of Scar. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

Minke Whale Composite Portrait 1186, July 2009. This is a two-image composite photograph of Ella. (Bryant Austin/studio: cosmos/Abrams Books)

A KQED Quest Profile of Bryant Austin

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