Honeycomb Moray & Model

27-Oct-2011 Back to Image Gallery

Honeycomb Moray & Model

Cruising the reefs in the Maldives Southern Atolls, I came across this Honeycomb Moray peering from its coral castle. I recognised a perfect wide angle macro photo opportunity, exactly what I was looking for as my camera system was set up for this genre. I had to move carefully into position to avoid spooking the moray and to add another degree of difficulty, a slight current from behind me threatened to push me onto the animal. Any sand I disturbed would also float into my picture area and create backscatter. I just hate this scenario. I much prefer currents from the opposite direction so any sediment I stir up will spoil some other photographer’s pictures! After acquiring a number of successful images it was clear the moray was very accommodating so I took advantage of my wife, Cherie, who was filming nearby and exploited her underwater modelling skills as well. During this process a cleaner wrasse swam in and also obliged. This allowed me to create a multi subject image. The difference being, an image that is made rather than just taken!

Photo Data: Location: Maldives, Southern Atolls. Genre: Wide Angle Macro. Photo Data: Nikon D200, Nikkor 10.5 lens + 1.4 Teleconvertor, Seacam Housing, Dual Seacam Strobes, Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 100. Exposure f8 @ 1/100th sec.

Photo Hints: To manage the current and co-ordinate the camera simultaneously was key to achieving the image. I have a useful tool that I encourage all my UW photography students to use. It is a heavy duty stainless steel probe on a retractor clipped off on my BCD. Its excellent at maintaining contact with the seafloor, avoiding contact with sediment or delicate corals and as a sand spike in currents or anywhere that stability is required. Yes these are one of the UW photo accessories you can only find at Dive 2000. Cherie, my model is also invaluable, she knows how to position herself within the constraints of various lenses, how to cheat her face so the strobes don’t cast severe shadows, techniques for controlling her hair and most of my frequently incomprehensible hand signals! Equipment Comments: Although any wide angle dome port can be used for this genre, Seacam (with technical and field development by an exceptional Seacam photographer, Jurgen Freund) produced a breakthrough port in the form of a mini dome of perfect quality optical glass optics that reduces the overall size of the camera system and allows the photographer to work much closer to the subject and the seafloor. The Seacam mini dome allowed me to shoot from well below the moray and include Cherie in frame at a suitable upward angle. An angle that would have been impossible to archive with normal domes.

Interesting Facts: The Honeycomb morays beautiful pattern extends all the way into its mouth. This is one of very few moray eels that can grow to 2 meters. Morays are often seen with the mouths agape, this is a breathing posture, not a threat. Although generally not aggressive they can inflict serious wounds so be careful if you are close to them. A very gentle approach will normally be tolerated, sudden movements on your part will create water pressure motion that marine animals feel and react to.

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