MCZ update

The MCZ project has now got twitter, Facebook and tumblr pages!
If you’re on any of these please do support the project and give us a follow or like.

https://www.facebook.com/MarineConservationZoneProject

https://twitter.com/MCZproject

http://mcz-project.tumblr.com

 

I’ve recently been on my first shoot for the project, which was a seasearch survey dive in Mounts bay. There’s now a blog post on the new tumblr page with more information and images from this shoot, but here’s a couple of images as a bit of a taster…

_DSC2311 (St Michael’s Mount, Penzance, this was the topside view of our dive site)

_DSC2351(Female cuckoo wrasse, and spiny starfish in the bottom of the frame too)

 

Thanks to everyone for all the support for the project so far, I really do appreciate it!

 

 

 

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Surveying & the Isles of Scilly

Yesterday I had a wonderful time, surveying on the Isles of Scilly steamship for ORCA. This involves a team of three of us volunteers standing out on the bridge for the duration of the crossing, surveying for marine life and rotating through various roles. I got up at 5am and we took the 7am ferry from Penzance, and left on the 5.30pm one, meaning a fairly long day but also lots of free time on the islands! If you want to find out more about ORCA and what they do click here.

The sea was so beautifully flat, and was ideal conditions for any sightings. The journey over was a little busier than the one back, but the total sightings of the day was as follows: 30+ barrel jellyfish (localised to the area nearer to Penzance), 1 sunfish (mola mola), 3 rissos dolphins (i was on the other side for these), a few grey seals, common dolphins (also missed these!), and plenty of various seabirds (Gannets, gulls, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars etc).

Note – please click on any of the images featured below to view them at larger size. 

Barrel Jellyfish from the ferry. I think this gives an idea of how calm the water was, no white crests in sight at all, wonderful! These jellyfish have been documented all over Cornwall recently in their masses, I’m hoping to see one whilst in the water next to photograph it in it’s environment and at eye level.

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Mola mola. Probably around the area because of the multitude of jellyfish, a brief but pretty awesome sighting. Sunfish are utterly strange looking fish, and this image just about shows their large flat body close to the water surface with the fin poking out, leaving behind gentle ripples. _DSC6537

 

So, the other half of the day was spent adventuring round the Isles of scilly, firstly by taking one of the wildlife watching boat trips to the western rocks (obviously we couldn’t get enough of being on boats looking for wildlife). This trip apparently only goes on extremely calm waters and is quite uncommon so was definitely worth it to see a different aspect of the islands.

Puffins ahoy! These little birds have begun to arrive on the islands now, was very good to see a few of the sea parrots about.

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A pair of  shags, carrying nesting material across the waters.

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Trying to get a bit of movement into the image; guillemots taking off from their perch.

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Guillemot & shag silhouetted.

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I also met up with photographer Ed Marshall on the island, (you should check out his work here) and he very kindly got in front of my lens whilst I was photographing this razorbill…but you can still see the razorbill, and they are really quite attractive birds. We were quite lucky to see them from such a close distance.

_DSC6622

Razorbills in monochrome. The sun had come out by this point and the light was quite harsh as it was nearing midday, so I found this image looked much better in black & white, simple colours to compliment the simple composition.

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This next blob is another sunfish, maybe not believable photo evidence but it’s true! To see two in one day was very cool. This was also followed by the appearance of some harbour porpoises, I chose not to include these images though as they were just a load of fin shots. But yes for some reason I still included this evidentially fantastic image of a mola mola.

_DSC6657

Back on St Mary’s, we explored a little more around the coastline, and came across some amazing rock formations. These boulders tsacked on top of one another had created a kind of a ledge with an overhang, looking straight out to the ocean – beautiful! It also made a kind of a frame around this scene, I promise it’s not just a bad panoramic.

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So all in all a really beautiful day, and thanks to Dan, Hazel & Ed for sharing it. I didn’t spend as much time photographing as I’d planned, but enjoyed simply being outside and walking around the island, and wanted to share that in this post. Hopefully I shall return to the Scillies some time soon for some underwater image making!

Fish skull photography

A fair few months ago, whilst on a dive, I came across a fish skull on the seabed. I thought, this is great! I can take this into the studio and take some more fine art imagery with it, to contrast against my usual more documentary/editorial style of working.

So…about 6 months later, I finally got round to it. My original plan was to use some 5×4 film for making these images, but due to the kit being unavailable at the time I changed to a macro flash set-up, which proved probably the better option to start off with.

It’s been a long while since I’ve done any studio or still life work, and I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I’ve been getting pretty frustrated at not being able to take the underwater images I would like to recently due to lack of diving, but this shoot definitely cheered me up!

A lot of people seem to have this slight fascination with skulls, I’m not sure what it is about them that appeals to us, I think it’s related to our interest in death. Either way, I am also one of these people, and very much enjoyed scrutinising the form of this fish skull.

There’s a few things I love about this style of photography; primarily the fact that using such slow shutter speeds means there’s an element of unpredictability, and you can never be sure how your image is going to turn out, (something that’s unusual to a lot of us in this digital age). This also means a lot of the images don’t work, and therefore when they do it’s even more exciting. This reminder of analogue photography is replicated a little through the sepia colours too.

I think the smoky textures around the skull create the impression of a dragon, something that I find quite pleasing. Who doesn’t like dragons!

I’ve got to rush now so won’t say anything more, but here’s the tech specs for the first image below for those who are interested:

NIKON D800, 60.0 mm f/2.8 (& 2 external macro flash)

1.0 sec;   f/29;   ISO 100

_DSC4960 _DSC4895 _DSC5012 _DSC4970 _DSC4928 _DSC4887 _DSC4997 _DSC4944

https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteSamsPhotography

www.charlottesams.com

Durgan dive images

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, now I have a facebook photography page (see – https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteSamsPhotography) I’ve been updated more on there than on here. It’s all about finding the balance!

This post is on our dive last night at Durgan, on the Helford river. It’s a lovely site with eelgrass beds, so an interesting change from rocky/sandy sea floors, and more unusual wildlife.

Last night we saw a thornback ray, a dogfish, pipefish and various other sightings. Lots of fun!

We came across a lobster pot. This wasn’t the kind of image I was after but it’s still quite an interesting shot. The strobes were especially hard to position to fire properly through the netting. Durgan 1-8-13. 028-

One of the many pipefish-

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Charlie and the thornback ray! This was another challenge to photograph because the eelgrass kept getting in the way and blocking my shots. I didn’t want to stress the ray so only took a few images before leaving it alone.

Durgan 1-8-13. 048-

Possible project images; rusty chain and sea squirts.

Durgan 1-8-13. 025- Durgan 1-8-13. 061-Spot the dogfish! Again, the eelgrass got a bit in the way here but I love the incredible bright green colour when the strobes light it up.

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This is my favourite of the dive, a fairly common animal in british waters but interesting nonetheless. This image optimises Durgan as a dive site, habitat and wildlife.

Durgan 1-8-13. 038-2

 

Thanks for reading!