Here at the International League of Conservation Photographers, we know that in order to capture the images that inspire people, sometimes you've got to get your hands dirty. And that's part of the inspiration behind our Tripods in the Mud (TIM) initiative that helps partner professional photographers with conservation organizations for the creation of visual materials on a specific region or issue. iLCP photographer Keith Ellenbogen recently returned from a TIM expedition to Fiji, so this week we've decided to highlight Keith's work and what he discovered while working in Fiji.
On assignment with the joint New England Aquarium / Monterey Bay Aquarium Fiji Expedition — with partners Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society — ILCP photographer Keith Ellenbogen joined a team of scientists and citizen scientists to visually communicate biodiversity, scientific work and issues surrounding our marine environment.
For the first part of the expedition we lived on a boat and descended beneath the surface on a daily basis to explore the coral reef habitats and ecosystems within the Bligh Waters of Namena Marine Reserve (Locally Managed Marine Area), Vatu-i-Ra and deepwater seamounts.
On this expedition I worked collaboratively with Dr. Les Kaufman, Senior Scientist at Conservation International to experiment with a technique for capturing images of fluorescence within corals that may be used as a method for understanding coral resilience and the “health” of the coral reef ecosystem.
From a photographic point of view the use of fluorescence photography enabled me to capture a palette of mind-bending retro greens, yellows, oranges and reds within the geometric structure of the corals that are naturally produced but not easily seen without the aid of filters covering camera lens and strobes.
The technique was experimental and required both Dr. Kaufman and myself to work as a team through some of the challenges and issues of capturing images of fluorescence within the corals. One challenge was to capture images of fluorescence during daylight hours so we could more easily target selected areas and species of corals. This was difficult because the ambient daylight dilutes the filtered light emitted by the strobes and received by the camera. Additionally, both Dr. Kaufman and myself worked as a team underwater to find corals that would exhibit areas of scientific importance as well as peak visual interest.
This was a rewarding collaboration that showcases how captivating imagery can bring to life scientific research and conservation efforts.
Read more posts on the expedition...
NEAq Blog: A Glowing World: http://explorers.neaq.org/2010/10/fiji-glowing-world.html
NEAq Expedition Blog: http://explorers.neaq.org/
Conservation International Blog: http://blog.conservation.org/?s=les+kaufmanPHOTOS: © Keith Ellenbogen, iLCP
Editor's Note: Fluorescence photography is a method that was developed by Charlie Mazel. Want to learn more about it? Click here.