Vortex of Jacks
February, 2009—Cocos Island, Costa Rica
On the same trip to Cocos Island, I found myself once again on a safety stop at the end of a photographically disappointing dive. We just couldn't manage to find the hammerheads in any numbers, and visibility was a bit poor, with overcast skies above. In the distance, I noticed a rather large shadow below me, and decided to swim over to investigate. I came upon a large school of Bigeye Jacks, tightly schooled together, rotating around itself. The top of the school was at about 30 feet, while I was doing time at 15 feet, and relatively low on air. I also knew that if I descended toward the school, it would likely disperse. So, I made lemonade from the lemons given.
|Shot with Nikon D3X and Nikkor 17-35mm lens in a Subal ND3
Housing, no strobes. ISO 200, 1/60 @ f11
I turned off my strobes, since they would have been completely ineffective from that distance to the subject, and would have merely illuminated any particulates in the water, resulting in very unpleasant backscatter in my image. In composing this shot, I broke one of the first real "rules" of underwater photography, which is to avoid shooting downwards into the water column, because the usual resulting image will typically appear very drab and generally disappointing. But the "eye" of the live "storm" was too much for me to resist. The resulting image was a monochromatic blue, which I then changed in Photoshop to grayscale. I then made some contrast and brightness adjustments to get the final image seen here.