Meeting: Monday June 27th
Rod Morris, who is a well known and award-winning natural history filmmaker, author and photographer, was the guest speaker on Monday night. His talk titled ‘ Pinch of Salt – Seashore macro photography’ was based around his most recent work, producing a field guide to the New Zealand seashore, in conjunction with Sally Carson from the Portobello Marine Science laboratory.
Accompanying his talk, were many photographs of the wonderful and weird sea life that inhabit our shores. There is, in fact, a huge variety of life in the sea that exists and is not that well known. In fact, about 96% of animals live in an aquatic environment; the rest are terrestrial. Rod urged us to go out and explore the inter-tidal environment.
Photographing these animals presents several challenges. First and foremost are two factors that are enemies of the camera – saltwater and sand. Rod recommended placing a finger near the end of one’s camera lens to provide a warning that the camera is getting close to the water surface. Rod also uses a point-and-shoot waterproof camera which can produce some pleasing results (particularly cameras that have a tilted screen). In more sheltered rock pools, it is possible to shoot through the water surface, particularly when using twin flash units.
Another challenge is that many of the animals tend to quickly burrow themselves in the sand if they sense danger. In this case, Rod often took these specimens back to the laboratory and placed a sheet of glass between the animal and the background sand so that it could not burrow. After photographing, he would then return the animal to the sea. He has also used water filters in the laboratory to move sediment and water around the tank, in order to stimulate some activity in the animals (such as barnacles which may close up as a defence mechanism). There are also various tidal rhythms that can influence the behaviour of the animal so it is important to have a bit of background knowledge of these animals.
Rod’s talk has certainly inspired us to head out to the seashore and explore. We look forward to the publication of his field guide.