Glad to see this never took off!


A couple of years ago National Geographic magazine published a series of nudibranch photos shot by a very famous photographer, David Doubilet. The shots were very pretty, but I questioned whether it was worth moving the animal from its natural habitat, possibly harming the critters, to shoot them on the white background of the underwater studio they set up. There were discussions on Wetpixel about whether the practice of moving subjects around underwater is considered “manipulation of the subject” or if it is OK in the interest of getting the shot, resulting in a lot of different opinions.

I for one, have always discouraged it. Most photographers don’t have the skill to pick up and move such delicate animals and many don’t care. I’ve seen photographers throw a nudi or octoups up into the water column to shoot it onto a black background, with no regard to the affect this has on the animal. It also sends a message to those who are just getting into photography that it’s OK and common to do this. I would like to say it is not common, but having dived with a lot of accomplished shooters, and I see this done way too often.

This little guy was shot in it’s natural setting, untouched by human hands. The background was knocked out and shadow was added in Photoshop. I’m happy to see that the National Geographic article did not prompt a bunch of copy-cat images, other than mine, which was only created to make a point.

Amazon Jungle Girl

Amazon girl

Years ago I had a chance to tour an area of the Amazon near Manaus on the Rio Negro in Brazil. Included in the whirlwind tour was a trip to visit a family who lived in the jungle. We were invited into the wooden shack they lived in, met the relatives, and sampled the cayman meat they were cooking for lunch. The children were especially excited about our visit and loved to be photographed. I was still shooting film back then, so I didn’t have a way to show them the photos on the spot. Months later I printed and laminated this photo and mailed it to our guide Michael. He brought it back into the jungle to give to the girl. He reported back to me that she was ecstatic and totally mesmerized by the photo. For years she showed it to every person who visited the village to the point where it just wore out.

This girl is around 18 years old now and is likely married with a couple of kids. I’d been trying to get Michael to send me a current photo of her, but he has long since moved on to another job. Maybe I need to go back and find her myself some day.

Read the full trip report

More photos from this Amazon trip

Cold, deep rainbows

When you jump into the ocean just off the coast of California you usually don’t see anything very colorful. The deeper you go, the less colorful things get. That’s why we photogs carry strobes attached to our cameras. Without light at 80′ you can barely see the pulsating colors of the comb jellyfish, much less photograph it.

Sumba Hornbill – Aceros everetti

Sumba Hornbill

This gorgeous bird is endemic in the Sumba Islands of Indonesia. They live in the dense forests and eat fruit, insects and small reptiles. The female nests in tree cavities for several months while the male brings her food. The name hornbill stems from the tubular protuberance on the beak, known as the casque. In many cultures the horns are used as ornamentation in ceremonial attire.

Shopping at Woolworths

Shopping at Woolworths

Remember when stores like Woolworths had a lunch counter? As a kid it was a real treat to take a break from shopping to get a milk shake or a sundae. Walking into this store in Bakersfield brought a rush of memories back into my head. I guess today this tradition has become popular again, but instead of milk shakes & burgers, it’s coffee and tea that cost ten times more than an entire meal did when we were kids.