“After I’ve gone through so many unforgettable experiences given by the ocean, cetaceans and dolphins, I realised the ocean is so vast and endless and it is a lifetime task to learn from our great nature. I, as a beginner, just stepped through the door.”
Text | Vita Liu
Photo | Ray Chin, Locus Publishing Company
Ray Chin is the very first photographer in Taiwan to specialise in cetacean and dolphin photography. He graduated from the university 20 years ago and went to Hualien and Taitung to learn more about cetaceans and the dolphins; later he became a volunteer tourism guide on the ocean for Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation. Two decades later he started to research and take pictures of cetaceans and the dolphins, and so began to enhance his underwater photography skills. He has visited whale-watching heaven – Tonga – every year, yet still had some fear and doubts after the so-called ‘photography honeymoon’ was over. However, he also began to recognise the relationship between nature and himself.
Open the book Whale Odyssey to see the Bottlenose dolphins of Mikura Island, Japan, the Southern right whale off Peninsula de Valdes, Argentina and the king of the polar circle in Norway – the Orca. Ray Chin began chasing the days, just to go after the cetaceans and the dolphin around the world. A few years passed and he has learned, he was enlightened and he was moved and even thrilled. He returned to his hometown to record the cetaceans and dolphins he had seen and, now at his 30th anniversary, he would like to reveal the meanings behind what he does his own way – photography. This was his original intension, to spread the information he has gathered. At the same time, even while he is researching, he is improving his underwater photography skills; the composition for each photo in this book displays stunning angles so readers will feel just as the photographer feels at that moment in when everything is happening in front of him.
The word ‘odyssey’ comes from the ancient Greek ‘odysseia’, the epic poems by Homer. He is brave, strong and ingenious. This story is tale that western people praise as the hero did not fear great nature and is not indomitable in society. The English title, Whale Odyssey, holds the same connotation: a strong photographer, who struggles time and cash, and strives to write his own poetry to the cetacean and dolphins in the sea.
Take off the book jacket and you will find an alternative front and back cover, which is indeed a surprise. When we are studying books and information related to underwater photography, we are often told not to cut the subject’s body when it comes to composition; but after I have appreciated work from many different photographers, I realised sometimes a specific part of the object is quite stunning too. Take Whale Odyssey as a good example, the alternative front and back covers are the eyes of the humpback whale and the dolphin. As the reader looks into their eyes, he will surely feel he has already started an oceanic journey.
About the Author
Mr. Ray Chin
Ray joined in Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation in 2001. After that, he has taken most of his time to research whales and dolphins, so has taken a lot of pictures. He is also engaged in environmental education and works on relative issues. Beginning shooting on the water, Ray started to search for cetaceans within Taiwanese waters in 2007. Consequently, he made numerous trips to Tonga, Sri Lanka and other regions to take pictures of different kinds of cetaceans. He successfully got the perfect shot of a Sperm Whale, Pseudorca crassidens and a Spinner Dolphin in 2012. His work is still continuing.