A student at Cypress College captured rare photographs that appeared on the Nightly News with Brian Williams and that were also published worldwide.
Photography major Lasanthi Benedict departed from Davey’s Locker out of Newport Beach on a whale watching trip with friends on Oct. 6, 2014. According to Davey’s Locker website, ‘It is the most popular option for those considering whale watching in Southern California.’ Benedict has been on several trips this year including a few where no dolphins or whales were seen. This trip ended up being historic because of what she saw.
Ready with her brand new camera, a Canon D60, she was anticipating a sighting. Just the prior week she had photographed some dolphins. One of her images became the most popular on National Geographic ‘Your Shot’
“I love to photograph both dolphins and whales,” said Benedict.
During her Oct. 6 the captain had made an observation in the water. “The captain of our tour boat was stunned and really excited to announce that these are sperm whales, that this was an extremely rare sighting and this was history in the making,” said Benedict. “I was thrilled to be a part of such a historical event.” She captured the images on her camera. As the group headed back to shore the media was on their way out.
When Benedict returned from that day she researched news stories online about the whales she had seen. She noticed an article near the end of the day written by the Orange County Register. She contacted the writer and submitted photographs. Two of them were published with credit given to Benedict. The next morning, she noticed another story on the Southern California Public Radio website. She contacted the writer of that story and submitted her photos. They published those photos and with her permission they are now on file for future use for any related stories.
Benedict continued getting in touch with more media outlets. She contacted the patch.com which ran a story and used her photographs. She recalled, “That was when I got the guts to call the Associated Press.” She sent the photos to them and within minutes had two of them published with credit given to her. The pictures spread from there and were picked up by numerous media outlets including ABC News, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and published worldwide. “It was amazing to have been there for such a special sighting and a historic moment. It feels so great to know that 100 years from now they may look up the whale sighting we had in 2014 and my name and photographs will be legendary and be forever in history.”
Cypress College Photography Professor and Department Chair Clifford Lester explained the importance of what it takes to be ready to capture an image that could be of importance. “Stuff happens fast,” said Lester. “Have a camera with you, have a mindset, you don’t want to be caught without a camera.”
Many of Lester’s students have found success while in his classes. Earlier this year he had students who won 1st and 2nd place prizes with their photos at the Orange County Fair. The OC Register did a story about it. In response to the latest case, “I can really enjoy it along with the student and share in their excitement.” Lester said with a big smile on his face.