Weekly Photo Challenge – Ambience

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Christmas Tree Worms

To me, ambience means light, sound, texture, and I loved the light in this macro shot of Christmas tree worms on the reefs of Belize.  You may recognize the structure of these little critters from the scene in Avatar where Jake is walking through the jungle and touching the large plants, which immediately recoil into a tube. When they feel even the slightest pressure change in the water, that’s exactly what these creatures do. Turns out, James Cameron is a scuba diver and that scene was inspired by what he witnessed in real life on the reefs of our beautiful planet!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Shine

Fluorescent Coral

Fluorescent Coral

Did you know that most coral polyps fluoresce? Here’s a shot taken on a night dive during our recent trip to Belize. I used a blue spot light to excite the fluorescence in these beautiful coral polyps helping me find them in the dark. To photograph them, I placed a blue excitation filter on my strobe and a yellow filter over the camera lens to cancel the blue which allowed me to capture the true color of the the fluorescence.

Diving in this dark underwater environment at night with a blue light is like being on one of the dark rides at Disney World where they use black lights and fluorescent paint to make the figures more vibrant. The corals shine brilliantly!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – H2O

 

Social Feather Dusters

Social Feather Dusters

Yes, of course, I’m posting an underwater photo. We just got back last week from a ten-day diving trip to Belize. The challenge is to pick just one shot! I decided on this lovely group of white social feather dusters as I love the movement of the water through their delicate tendrils. Feather dusters are a kind of tube worm and these creatures are appropriately named “Social” because they live together.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Curve

Fluorescent Brain Coral

Fluorescent Brain Coral

I have been reading about fluorescence on the coral reefs for some time, so during our recent trip to Roatan, Honduras, I decided to try my hand at photographing it. Many life forms on the reefs fluoresce, but almost all corals do. To be able to see the fluorescence, one needs a blue light to excite it and then a yellow filter to cancel out the blue light to be able to see the true color of the fluorescence. And to photograph it, one also needs a blue filter for the strobe and a yellow filter for the camera.

So…I went equipped. Peter and I took yellow filters to go over our masks and I brought along a blue “Night Sea” LED light on a night dive. When we got to the coral reefs, it was like being on a ride in Disney World! Everything glowed in greens, oranges and even some pinks. On that night dive, I did not take the camera – as there’s just too much going on, but I did return the next day with filters on the strobe and camera.

This shot was taken during daylight hours, but the fluorescence in this brain coral was highly visible and photographable. What I love about this particular coral is that the “valleys” fluoresce, but the “hills” don’t. For comparison, here’s another shot of that same brain coral without the fluorescent lights and filters. Who would have guessed?

Christmas Tree Worms

Christmas Tree Worms

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Pure

Juvenile Drum Fish

Juvenile Drum Fish

Pure delight. Pure beauty. Pure innocence. This little juvenile drum fish is one of those symbols of young life on the reef. They’re fairly rare, spend most of their time flitting around in small confined places under overhangs on the reef, and they live in these small confined places because it’s relatively safe there for young fish.

Juvenile drums are relatively hard to photograph because they are always moving – quickly – so it was pure delight for me to be able to capture a shot of this little one during our trip to Roatan, Honduras this past week.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Earth

White Rose

White Rose

Haha! I bet you thought I was going to post an underwater shot, didn’t you? Not today!

I love the beauty of our planet and here’s another shot that I’ll be displaying at my first show of the season in two weeks. It’s really quite dramatic printed on metal!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Admiration

Sunny Face

Sunny Face

I admire nature in all of her glory. Flowers never cease to amaze me in their complexity and colors. I’m working on a new series of flowers for the upcoming art show season and this sunflower is a piece I shot just last week. She will be printed on metal and available for purchase at my first show – The French Nest Market in Fort Collins, Colorado on May 21st.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Circle

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Here’s a literal interpretation of the challenge for this week. I had never seen a sea urchin that had made its home on the top of the reef. They usually like their hidey holes and all one sees are their spines sticking out of the nooks and crannies on the sides of coral heads. This shot was taken on Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Gathering

Yellow-Headed Jawfish

Yellow-Headed Jawfish

A gathering of eggs, so to speak… This is the famous yellow-headed jawfish. Its curious lifestyle includes how it takes care of its brood. The male jawfish carries the gestating eggs in his mouth, occasionally spitting them out  to aerate them and then sucking them back into his mouth to protect them.

I was told by our dive master that the males who have the dark lines below their jaws are experienced fathers. These dark lines are literally stretch marks. So, if you look closely at the profile of this handsome guy, you can see the eggs in his mouth along with his resume stripes.

I was thrilled to get this shot! These guys are very shy. They live in holes on the sand bottom and pop up to feed and see what’s going on. It took me about twenty minutes of lying on that sand bottom with my camera pointed at the hole. I gradually approached the jawfish who would pop up, see me, and go back into his hole until I was able to get close enough to engage my macro lens.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Transition

Transition back to normal. On our recent trip to the Cayman Islands, I found this hermit crab crawling along the sandy bottom. In order to photograph it, I picked it up and placed it on a coral head upside down so I could get a good shot of the critter as it came out of its shell to see what was going on.

Upside Down

Upside Down

It climbed out of its shell and proceeded to grab a piece of seaweed on the coral head…

Leave Me Alone

Leave Me Alone

Very quickly it righted itself. I picked it up and put back where I had found it. It was a very fun encounter!

Back to Normal

Back to Normal

The shell home for my new friend appears to have been used by many hermit crabs. It’s almost completely smooth with very little definition or detail except for some new sea life growing on its top. Even in the wilds of the underwater world, some sea creatures’ very existence depends on reuse!

To learn more about the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.