Photographing creatures on a coral reef - anywhere in the world - is a problem. The reef fish and any other mobile creatures are scared to death of humans in the water. This may, in part, be due to the fact that we are big - bigger even than most reef sharks - and big creatures are usually hunting for something to eat. And in New Caledonia almost every male that shows up on the reef is armed, deadly, and dangerous. The only places a photographer can get a semi-natural photo is within marine reserves where the fish have been unharmed for many fish generations. And even there the smaller ones retreat into the coral when a human approaches. This is even more of a problem with sphere images because you need to be right on top of the smaller fish to get a decent image of them with the fish-eye lens.
Yesterday I tried out my new work-around for this problem. I automated my camera using a tiny little infrared intervalometer - a gentLED-AUTO 051 - made by Gentles Ltd. and a home-built camera rotator that turned the camera 360 degrees once every minute. This was my first test and it was in shallow water on a reef at Ilot Mato. Being practically New Years eve there were a lot of yachts in the anchorage and I noticed that most of the holiday makers were heading off to the reef with mask, fins, snorkles.... and spear guns. The fish were especially shy and I could see them finning madly away as soon as I entered the water. It is true I wanted to hunt them, but only to shoot their image with my camera. But they were not taking any chances.
I set the camera up next to a thicket of Acropora coral. The tiny electric-blue damsel fish instantly retreated into the protective arms of the coral (as usual) and watched me set everything up. Then Frederique and I swam off and the camera ever so slowly turned around taking photos every 3 seconds. We swam downstream so our metabolites would not frighten the fish and went hunting for photos along the edge of the reef. Freddy and I had a contest going - which one of us could take the best photo that showed a story. A photo of behavior of the coral reef creatures that - in one shot - would make the viewer understand the point of the story. Even better if it made the viewer smile.
After about 20 minutes I figured that the creatures around the camera must have gone back to "normal" behavior. Unless of course the presence of the very weird camera apparatus kept them in retreat. So we headed back to the scene. As happy coincidence would have it we came upon a cuttlefish hiding under a coral head, peeping out at us. Cuttlefish are very smart little creatures and can change their color and color pattern to vanish into their surroundings and also to communicate with each other and other reef creatures. This one was a dark red with a mottled pattern that matched the surrounding coral hideout perfectly.
I dove down, my little point-and-shoot ready, and took some photos. Freddy did too. The cuttlefish realized it's "cover" had been penetrated so it began to swim off, heading upstream against the current. We followed, watching the creature change it's color, wondering if the colors reflected its mood or if was just being "noticeable" for our benefit so when the opportunity arose it could dive down out of sight and transform into something else entirely. The wonderful creature swam right past the automated camera!
So neither Freddy or I won the contest. The cuttlefish - and the automated camera - got the story of the day. You can see the whole underwater chase in one sphere right here. It makes Freddy and I smile every time we look at it.
新喀里多尼亚是离澳大利亚和新西兰最近的南太平洋岛屿。该岛是法国领地且官方语言是法语，尽管如此，其文化却丰富多彩，揉合了美拉尼西亚、欧洲、波利尼西亚、越南、中国、印尼等国的风情。这里有一个多山的大岛，称为大地岛 (Grande Terre)，和6个较小的岛屿——洛亚蒂三岛 (Loyalty Islands)、贝莱普群岛 (Belep) 和松树岛 (Isle of Pines)。 整个群岛人口极为稀少，有大片的荒野。这里有数百公里长的徒步小径、随处可见的露营营地、超过42个公园和保护区、清澈透明的河流和莹莹闪光的瀑布。约三分之一的人口居住在首府努美阿。镍的开采是该国最主要的工业，也是维持其高标准生活的主要经济来源。大地岛四周环绕着世界第二大珊瑚礁，此珊瑚礁形成的泻湖是世界上最大的，也是受保护的泻湖。该泻湖于2008年被列为世界遗产，面积达24000平方公里，是品种丰富的鱼类和无脊椎动物栖息之地。 对于刚上岛的游客而言，最引人注目的是这里鲜艳夺目的色彩。努美阿以其完备的酒店、度假酒店、餐馆设施和丰富多彩的活动欢迎游客的到来。