Jelly Fish Jamboree

 

Jelly fish are abundant in all the worlds oceans, some sting some are benign, and there is even a type that lives in freshwater, and although as divers we often encounter them being eaten by fish or turtles,  but on the whole they have few predators.
Here is a turtle munching one of these particular Jellies which were quite abundant over our weeks diving in the Red Sea.

 

 

Turtle at dive site with hundreds of Jellies providing an impromptu lunch.

Turtle at dive site with hundreds of Jellies providing it with an impromptu lunch.

 

 

Being ninety percent water, and translucent they have long been a popular subject for underwater photographers, usually seen backlit looking up towards the surface.

 

Shooting this particular “bloom” or “smack” (collective noun for jellyfish for all you pub quizzers out there)  of Jellies was relatively easy.
I first noticed them the evening before on a dusk dive, and towards the end of the dive I realised that there were huge clumps of them in the alcoves and gullies at a dive site in the Southern Red Sea.

 

So knowing they should  be there in the early morning, I arranged to get up at around sunrise, usually possible on photo trips, as long as you plan it with the guides beforehand.
My buddy and I had arranged to get up at 5 and in the water at 5.30.
I wanted to make sure I had the low beams of the dawn sunlight at my disposal.

 

Shooting close to the surface with a super wide or fisheye lens produces an effect known as looking through “Snells Window” which is an optical side effect that I was keen to use making almost a  circle from the horizon line visible.

 

However fisheye lenses can really enhance and exaggerate the scale, and in this case my intended effect was to record the early morning clouds in shot too.

 

Framing was quite difficult because I was looking directly into the sun, but a more prosaic issue had the potential to cause problems for my composition.

 

This was because as I was pointing almost directly upwards, my exhaled bubbles could easily disrupt the jellies. So I adopted a camera at arms length position held out from my body so that my exhaled bubbles had less chance of marring the shot.

 

Shooting from the hip with the camera pointing vertically made for a more hit and miss outcome.
So I also prefocussed and set the camera into manual focus, this would prevent the camera hunting around trying to lock focus on any one of the hundreds of jellies.

It was also important to pick a shot where the jelly had partially obscured the sun as too much of the sun would have potentially caused me some editing issues.

 

Exposure wise I based the exposure on the background details, rendering the Jellies as translucent almost silhouettes. This shot was the one of around 20 that I preferred the line up with the jelly most prominent in the foreground.
The settings were an aperture of f10 to give me sufficient depth of field and a shutter speed of 1/125 second, the shot straight out of camera was quite contrasty as I had deliberately exposed for the highlights as I didn’t want to blow out the brightest areas of the shot, and then edited it in Lighroom afterwards to push the shadow detail and clarity inside Adobe Lightroom.
Shooting for the intended edit is important for difficult and contrasty lit pictures like this and the shot straight out of the camera wouldn’t have had as much leeway in the edit as a picture exposed more for the foreground would have done, and I would have lost a lot of highlight details. Easier with a full frame camera with greater dynamic range, so those of you with compacts or smaller sensored cameras if you can get it right in this regard, then rest assured that the transition to a larger sensor will be that much easier to handle for you.

 

 

 

Jelly in foreground surrounded by hundreds of its fellow creatures. Just ever so slightly blocking the sun to help balance the exposure.

Jelly in foreground surrounded by hundreds of its fellow creatures. Just ever so slightly blocking the sun to help balance the exposure.

 

 

I think it’s important for shots like this with repetitive features of various sizes to place the most important of the features prominently in the foreground to inform and lead your eye into the picture.

 

Just for fun I did another edit that I added a sun flare to, the trick with doing this is to not overdo it and also to place it where the sun flare would be in real life.
Here is the end result.

 

Flare added toJelly in foreground surrounded by hundreds of its fellow creatures. Just ever so slightly blocking the sun to help balance the exposure.

Flare added toJelly in foreground surrounded by hundreds of its fellow creatures. Just ever so slightly blocking the sun to help balance the exposure.

 

Some people don’t agree with this sort of thing and of course if you enter your shots into competitions then check the terms and conditions carefully.
Personally I think if its your picture and you are realising your personal vision then its fine by me.

This of course could be achieved in camera by using a different camera and lens combo, but it would have entailed a much greater expense and weight penalty .

If you like this post and would like to see some more then please check out my regular blogs, and I’ve done more like this one here’s one to be getting started with.
called Fast Fish-How I got the Shot

And if you’d like to join me on a future workshop trip open to all abilities, then check out my trips page here.

 

Duxy