Thursday, 31 May 2012

Rain? Time to get the macro lens out!

Well, it’s a rainy grey day out here in the middle of the sea, which actually makes a really nice change from the sunshine (yes I’m Scottish, yes I miss rain!), but as much as I enjoy shooting in the rain, with everyone hiding inside on their laptops and the wildlife pretty subdued it seemed a good time to get out the macro lens and try some specimen shots.

 Even the fulmars looked fed up with the weather

In order to get decent quality images of the animals we’re collecting with the ROV and the boxcores, I brought along a little 10L aquarium tank, a big strip of black cotton to surround it with and a couple of sheets of 2mm plexiglass to act as a sort of clear shelf inside the tank to support the animals (thanks to Millie Sharkey at Bristol Uni for her advice on the setup!). We set it up tonight in one of the outdoor labs and immediately entered into a bitter battle against the constant condensation forming on the glass... Once the cold room empties out a bit I’ll need to try and grab a space in there, but I’ll need to wait for the science to get done first.

I’ve only got one flashgun with me, so unless I can find some other sort of torch or waterproof lamp, I’ll be going for the side-lit look!  Anyway, here’s a few first attempts:


  
 An antipatharian (black coral)
 
Close-up of the black coral polyps

The underside and mouth of a pencil urchin

 
Lophelia coral (polyps retracted)

So it’s an all right start I think! Some of these have had a bit of work done to them in Photoshop to remove reflections from the glass and particles from the water, but otherwise they’ve only had the usual contrast and sharpening. If anyone has any handy tips for improving the lighting on these though I'd be really grateful! Chances are we're only going to have the one light source, but we can probably build more or less anything we need.