Painted Crayfish in a Coral Garden

11-Mar-2014 Back to Image Gallery

Painted Crayfish in a Coral Garden

When I roam the reefs of the world armed with my camera I swim past countless species of marine life that would attract the attention of many photographers. I don't shoot these pictures because I have shot them before and I now consider such images as routine. I would never use the term, boring, that would be harsh, the kaleidoscope of marine life should never be considered boring! The image I am looking for must also be art. I am looking for animals, great backgrounds, multiple other interesting subjects, perhaps human interaction with other species, all in one frame. I am also looking for the story in an image, it should speak to the viewer in some manner. It is not easy to define it in words but after a lifetime of underwater image capture, I know it when I see it. Consequently, last month while cruising the deep slopes of the massive sea mount Balls Pyramid, 12 miles from Lord Howe Island, I came across this beautiful painted crayfish living in its soft coral garden and accompanied by a Crown of Thorns sea star. The picture tells a story, marine life living in harmony in an artistic setting. It is both documentary and art, two genres in one image. Exactly the type of images that challenge my ability to capture and share.

Photo Data: Location: Balls Pyramid, Lord Howe Island, NSW, Australia. GENRE: Wide Angle Macro. PHOTO DATA: Nikon D800, Nikkor 16mm lens with Tele-convertor, Seacam Housing, Dual Seacam Strobes, and Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 200 Exposure f11 @ 1/60th sec. Image by Kevin Deacon.

Photo Hints: Dual strobes ensure even lighting and elimination of harsh shadows cast by a single strobe when shooting images of animals with so much shape and form. Marine animals are easily spooked so is important to move in on them very slowly while keeping an eye on their reactions; they will communicate their discomfort with your approach by some sort of body language which the photographer should always be aware of. Any closer and the animal will flee.EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATIONS: A wide angle lens used in close up shooting style produces wonderful eye to eye images while including a wide view of the habitat and other subjects.

Interesting Facts: The Crown of Thorns sea star was once considered as nothing more than a serious threat to live coral reefs. We now understand that a balanced number of these sea stars are needed to keep the fast growing corals in check so that the slower growing corals can survive and contribute to stronger barrier reef structures. Tropical Painted crayfish, although still tasty, are not as delicious as their temperate water cousins. I have photographed and eaten both species and I assure you this is true. I wish you happy diving and dining!

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