Monday, July 19, 2010
My Best Shot at Bay Scallops
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With black crude spewing in the Gulf, and the resulting cloud of poison moving ever closer to Florida's coast, I am seeing the beauty and bounty of our clear clean waters with new eyes. Like so many Floridians, Crystal and I are taking every opportunity to visit our beaches and swim in the Gulf. This summer (scallop season), that has meant going scalloping. The scallops apparently don't know about the oil yet and have flocked to the seagrass beds of Florida's Nature Coast.
Every year (for the 30 years I have been scalloping), I kick myself for not making the effort to photograph these incredibly beautiful sea creatures. Gather, shuck, saute, broil on-the-halfshell... or freeze some for off-season, but not photograph. So this year, finally, I spent all day Saturday with photobuddies, John Moran (http://www.johnmoranphoto.com/) and Eric Zamora (http://www.ericzamora.com/), making scallop photos. (Well, we did have to collect some first, and then, why not shuck and eat them too?)
John and I have been talking scallop-photographing strategies for a few months. Between his mastery of lighting and the contraptions and ideas we came up with, we had a fantastic and successful day. Eric is ever-mindful of documentation (a big failure on my part) and uses video, audio, and still photos to show the process and progress of the adventure. I look forward to seeing his piece on our day in the Gulf off of Keaton Beach.
While scallops are social creatures for sure, you don't often see them this cozy. But they do make a great group portrait!
Scallops see through those lovely blue eyes... and with eyes that beautiful, why not have a hundred of them instead of just two?
Scallops don't sit around like other bivalves. They use their strong (delicious) muscle to swim by sucking in water and then jetting it out. This photo also shows the sea grass habitat of the Gulf of Mexico's bay scallop.
This was a "failed" test shot as far as ambient light settings - the sea grass was supposed to show in the background. But the underexposure combined with bright flash (in a bag underwater) and the flecks of silt that we had stirred up came together to make this extraterrestrial delight. Nothing was altered here (except the viewer's perception).
What intricate beauty! A jewel of the sea.
The wind and waves made the water's surface tricky to shoot through (and most of the shots like this failed). But luck was with me on this one - the wavy surface creates the painterly quality, yet the detail and sharpness of the scallop is not obscured by reflections.
The scallops we gathered for the background here would occasionally swim to the surface and shoot saltwater at my camera or flash, leaving bubbles as they sank back to the bottom. Quick reflexes were a must -- saltwater is BAD for cameras.