Tag Archives: sea

Coming of the Crab: A Behind The Lens Exclusive

The Crab is Coming  is our newest artistic endeavor.  This special photographic work is a small crab found in a mango swamp.  He was using a wooden board as a small bridge to get from one mango root to another when he interrupted his busy schedule for this portrait.

Every once in a while I get asked, “How did you do that?” Well, to make this shot I had 3 issues to contend The Crab is Comingwith.

As there was no easy way to set this shot up, I had to do some quick improvising to make it work.

  • The 1st problem had been the crab was constantly moving.  He sat still for no one.  This crab had an agenda.  Worse, I didn’t want to frighten the creature into trying to escape and hide in the darkness under the railing.  So a cautious but a fast approach was necessary.
  • The 2nd issue quickly arose in the form of the inability to get the camera to the end of the railing.  I wanted to take a shot of the front of this crab but he was heading in the wrong direction for the “easy” shot.  Why oh why do they always walk away?  The end of this 2’X4′ railing was quite literally hanging over the water in a mangrove swamp and was not accessible.
    So, while I’m extended out on with one foot on the ground and the rest of my ample frame counterbalanced on this board, I  half expected some kid to yell “Look Mommy, What’s that man doing?” Soon I discovered it necessary to rest the camera on the wood railing itself to get the angle I wanted.
    The railing also allowed me to use the board as a camera stabilizer while I made sure that the exposure and angle was good because of the harsh midday sun.  The fun did not stop there however, as the crab was in constant motion and the difficulty of the camera to focus properly soon became clear.   I quickly became dependent on my leaning the camera slightly backwards to prevent the camera focusing motor not being inhibited by resting on the wood.
  • The 3rd difficulty with the shot was waiting for the crab to get to the place on the board that I had predetermined would be the best spot for the camera and lighting to meet and create this photograph.  There was no promise of this happening.  If I tilted the camera too high I would miss the shot.  If I tilted too low and the camera lens hit the board it would not focus.  Also, If you notice the crab is almost off the side of the board.  He was quickly heading in that direction and left me muttering under my breath “The Crab is Coming hurry up…!”  Thus I came up with its name.

Alas, that is the difficulty of shooting living creatures.  They are not always willing to stop and stand perfectly still for your shooting pleasure.

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Living Art: Color, Form, and Deadly Beauty.

Nestled in camouflage and coral at the bottom of a large piece of rock is a an example of the deadly art of the frogfish.  His portrait reminds me of the saying “A face that only a mother could love.”   What is so unusual about this fish is that is another example of how nature uses color and form to once again create an animal of deadly skill.

Waiting for dinner is one of the strangest looking fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of capturing in a picture.  This is a full-bodied size photograph of a cold-blooded killer.  Scientists refer to it as Fowlerichthys ocellatus,  or Antennarius ocellatus.   While we of more humbler origin simply refer to it as a frogfish or angler.

Waiting for DinnerAccording to frogfish.ch this fish can reach a size of up to 38 cm.   They ambush their prey and are quite obviously the last thing you’d want to get near if you were another fish.

What amazes me about this particular picture is the frogfish’s ability  to blend into the surrounding coral.  That nature would supply any animal with such a mastery in the art of camouflage to simultaneously hunt its prey and hide from other predators is astounding.

They just place themselves among the coral and use their fins as a foot to support their weight as they hide.  Their bodies sometimes have membranes and plates that breakup their form and hiding them among the rocks. The fins even have small nobs that act as small primitive fingers to grip the rock underneath them.

It is not unusual for them to be seen with algae for other forms of marine plants growing on them.  This allows the fish to blend in with his surroundings even more.  When you combine this with the colors and patterns they have, their prey doesn’t stand a chance.

When it comes to hunting they have two techniques that they use with devastating efficiency.  The first is to just sit motionless and let the prey come to them.  Once in range their huge mouth engulfs the prey and swallows it whole.

These fish are known for swallowing fish as big as they are!  They are even hostile to their own kind and will commit acts of cannibalism without thought.  They will tolerate other frogfish only during mating and even then for only so long.  Overtax your welcome with this fish and you end up on its menu.

The other form of hunting this fish is famous for is closely related to the first in that they sit on the coral and wait motionless.   Meanwhile,  they extend small fibers from the ends of a protrusion above their mouths to float in the current.   These fish will wiggle these fibers as a lure for other fish.

The poor unsuspecting prey thinks it will be scoring an easy meal and tries to strike the lure.  As they do so, they  realize their mistake to late and end up swallowed whole.

The formula in nature is simple.  Color+Form+Function= Deadly Beauty.

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What a Cute Ball of Urchin Spines?!?

Spines of Urchin is a photograph of the intimidating sea urchin.   These brainless animals crawl slowly upon the ocean floor looking for food.  No, I’m not being cruel to these cute balls of spines.   They really have no brains.   They also do not have ears, or eyes and their mouth is on the bottom.

 

Spines of Urchin
The flat disk on the spines are feet!

These unique creatures roam the seabed looking for algae or kelp to munch on using light-sensitive cells in their spines. At first glance, you might not see how these amazing creatures travel up sheer rock walls or even the sides of holding tanks.  The secret is in their spines.  If you look at Spines of Urchin closely you’ll see that some of the spines end in points, and some end in a flat suction like disc.   These discs are their feet.  They not only use the feet for travel and suction but also to pick up pieces of food and move it towards their mouths. I’d imagine being a sea urchin would be a strange existence.

 

Up to now, this has to be one of the strangest animals that I’ve ever eaten.  You read that right.  They are edible!  In fact, the roe of a sea urchin is a supreme delicacy sought by chefs all over the world.  The hard part is getting past the spines.

You find this delicacy in various cuisines around the world.  Eaten everywhere from Maine to California, they are even served in various pasta sauces in Italy.  But the biggest appetite of sea urchin belongs to the Japanese.  Indeed, it was at a Japanese restaurant that I had my first experience with this strange dish.

 

It tastes like a strange salty version of codfish that seems to melt in your mouth.  It was quite pleasant, and I’d readily eat it again.  However, before you order up a big plate of these little tapas, you might want to try it first. While I enjoyed it, there are many people who do not.  This is one of those experiences where you either love it or hate it.

 

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For more information of the sea urchin check out:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/557549-health-benefits-for-sea-urchin-sushi/

http://healthbenefitsofeating.com/sea-food/health-benefits-of-eating-sea-urchin/128/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/318753-nutritional-facts-of-a-sea-urchin/

 

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Lionfish Get No Love, Only A Stew.

Swimming for his royal portrait, this lionfish is a beautiful creature of the sea.  His majesty showed absolutely no concern for us.  We were merely curiously weird-looking creatures that were obviously too large to eat and not worthy of an alarm.

Unfortunately, his Highness needs to become concerned about us.  The lionfish has become a serious issue to conservationists and divers in the Atlantic.

But why the loss of love?    Lionfish look great in an aquarium.   In fact, the lionfish is often available at specialty aquarium shops both domestically and through online international purchase.

Depending on the variety and species these fabulous additions to any saltwater aquarium hobbyists collection will run you from $37-$110.

  • Invaders:   In the Atlantic and Caribbean the Lionfish is an invasive species.  This naturally means that they do not belong here. Their introduction to the fragile coral reefs off of Florida and the Bahamas occurred due to the intentional dumping of lionfish by frustrated fish owners.    These hobbyists either grew tired of their pets or the pet quickly outgrew his tank and ate his tank mates.  Once in the ecosystem, this fish quickly adapted and grew out of control.
  • Apex predator:   In the world of tropical reefs there are two predators that have no natural enemies.  The first is barracuda.  The second is the lionfish.The venomous spines that these beautiful fish display both to corral their prey and protect themselves make short work of any natural predator wanting to make a quick meal of them.   This appetite combined with a stomach that can expand over 30 times and a voracious appetite for at least 50 different species of animals on the reef causes severe trouble.  You have an eating machine that is unstoppable.
Lions Pride
Lunch?
  • Menu Please!   As it turns out, lionfish have a wonderful flavor slightly reminiscent of lobster.  Most people are willing to try this delicacy once they learn that lionfish are both invasive and destructive to the local ecosystem and the fish that has no natural predators.

Realistically, we weren’t a threat to them due to their status as a pet.  However, once discovered that they’re not only edible but very tasty sautéed with a touch of butter, all bets were off.

The harvesting of lionfish during derbies and the recent additions of how to guides for preparation of this fish led to some restaurants trying their hand at lionfish on the menu.  A small number of entrepreneurs have already begun ideas for farming these exotic fish for mass consumption.  Their future as a main course seems assured.

 

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For more information check out these links:

http://www.traditionalfisheries.com/cooklionfish.php

http://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook

http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/lionfish-romesco-stew/11514/

http://eattheinvaders.org/lionfish/

http://www.lionfishhunters.org/Recipes.html

http://www.deathtolionfish.org/facts.html

 

How to FLOAT like a Pro!

How can something as simple as a floating jellyfish improve your life as an artistic person?  Well, after spending quality time in my super-secretive mad scientist photo lab I came upon the idea of FLOAT and how we as artists use this in creating our work.

Floating JellyfishIn order to FLOAT we must:

 

Function as an artist.  Artists are creators.  We delve deep into our souls and transfer that ethereal realm of thought to canvas, clay or even photograph.  While every artist is different in our methods, our philosophies, and yes even our madness, we all create.  Painters dabble in paints; sculptors in clay and photographers use a perspective as seen through the lens of a camera as our tools to place our feelings of wonderment and awe of the universe in tangible visible form.  To be a successful artist you must create!  Function like an artist makes good art.

Locate places with similar people like yourself.  Artists are people too.  That sounds like a bad bumper sticker doesn’t it?   But the truth is that there are other artists who have the same kind of personality you do.   Find them.  A quick search on Google will yield all kinds of fellow artists to communicate with.  It might be in a downtown nightclub, maybe at certain art fairs, or, as I hope, even this blog.   Discover each other and make an effort to make friends among them.  You can share ideas, philosophies and even business advice, whatever you want.  Locating other artists is a must for a FLOATing artist.

Observe what they do.  This is perhaps the most difficult part of being a FLOATer.  Once you have met other artists; watch them.   No, I don’t mean become a weird stalker or anything illegal.  Just pay attention to the work and attitudes your fellow artists keep up.  After a time, it will become clear who the leaders in your art community are, and who are the followers.  Observing these successful leaders allow you to learn through their experience also.  Don’t exist in a bubble.  Observe!

 

Assess what artistic techniques work and those that do not for what you want to do.  Concentrate on the techniques that work. One key element overlooked in the proper assessment of the effectiveness of a technique is its relationship to your own personal goals.   If you want to become a successful wildlife photographer but find yourself constantly chatting it up with wedding photographers, you will learn new techniques, but your growth as a wildlife photographer will not advance very quickly.  Assess what works!

 

Try new things.  To grow as an artist you must try new things.  This is the hardest part of the FLOAT system.   Why?  Failure.  People hate to fail.  What is the number one reason for failure?  People hate trying new things and making a mistake in their technique.  The trick to successfully trying new things is by understanding that failure in technique will happen.  Failures are an opportunity to learn and refine the proper technique for next time.  Never take yourself so seriously that you can’t laugh at yourself.  Try new things and have fun doing it!  Your confidence will grow and so will your art.  Try it!

So FLOAT your way to success as a creative artist.  Most of all have fun doing it!

We hope you also enjoyed our photograph of  Floating Jellyfish.

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Discover other works in our collection at http://aa-photographic-arts.artistwebsites.com/index.html.