Sunday 21 January 2018

Sometimes it pays to look up from your phone... even for a second

Whale of a time?

"A sign of the times". A young man checks his phone, apparently oblivious to the humpback whale breaching before him. Photo: Instagram/Eric Smith
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Does this photo illustrate all that's wrong with the world, or does it simply capture some spectacularly bad timing?

The answer very much depends on you.

Taken by Eric Smith, and posted to Instagram this month, the photo shows a young man sitting on a yacht, apparently missing a breaching humpback whale as he checks his phone.

"A sign of the times," was Smith's simple caption.

A sign of the times.

A photo posted by E. Smith (@esmith_images) on

Needless to say, the snap has since gone viral. Media all over the world have featured the photo, including ABC and CBS News... and it's launched a gazillion Facebook posts.

"Whatever this guy is looking at on his phone, it better be good -- because it cost him the sight of a lifetime," opined the Huffington Post.

Smith, who describes himself as an 'Artist/DGA Director/ Photographer/CBS EcoMedia Creative' on his Instagram profile, was stumped at the man's failure to react.

"I was roughly 50 feet from the whale and her calf when they surfaced next to the sailboat," he has said. "The guy never looked up from his phone throughout the entire breach.

"Two women at the front of the boat were taking pictures but he didn't notice."

He took several shots of the moment, off California's Redondo Beach.

Others were more sympathetic.

"I'm guilty of this behavior," says one commenter on Smith's Instagram page. "But its usually trying to capture images. Either with my phone or a real camera, it seems like too often I have missed what's really going on in an attempt to preserve the moment.

"There's a lot to be said about preserving memories in your brain, I guess."

If you are guilty of missing some of nature's finest moments through checking your phone, you can make the best of a bad lot by checking Smith's Instagram account here.

It's crammed with crisp and stunning natural eye candy.

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