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#1 echeng


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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:10 PM

Quoth James Wood:

The Scientific Photography Forum is dedicated to using digital images as a scientific tool to record data, for communicating to peers and to support education and outreach projects for the public. While everyone is encouraged to post here, this forum is specifically designed to promote discussions among scientists, conservationists and educators that use or would like to use digital photography in their work. To kick start the forum, I’ll post several ways I use photography in my work. But what I’d really like to read is how you are using photography as a tool in your work.

Please introduce yourselves let us know how you use photography in your work as a scientist, conservationist, or educator!
eric cheng
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#2 Paul Kay

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:58 AM

Hi James, Eric

I'll certainly contribute here! In the UK digital photography is proving to be an excellent tool for use in projects such as SEASEARCH (a volunteer diver habitat/marine life survey program). Although dSLRs do have a distinct edge for fine detail recording (I've just recorded a new site for an obscure and 'rare' coral - confirmed by 3 marine biologists to whom I emailed the pix - the coral Caryophyllia inornata is only 5mm diameter), many images from other digitals are excellent for confirming identifcation and potentially monitoring specific sites.

As an example of how things can be done, a friend of mine has recently set up a compact digital in a housing and uses a Nikonos SB105 (she has Nikonos gear too) with it for biological recording. Interestingly, she uses NO sync cable but merely blocks some forward light from the built in flash. Apparently this works fine for recording marine life and small habitats when she is involved with survey work.

Potentially, digital photography enables far more accurate specie recording than previously.

Paul Kay,Canon EOS5DII SEACAM c/w S45, 8-15, 24L,35L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - Sony A7II SEACAM 28/2 & 50/2.8 Macro - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales -see  marinewildlife

#3 Donovan



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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:56 AM

I use digital photography in a variety of ways. the first time was way back in 1986. We took a video camera and hooked it up to a computer and copied the data on to print for documenting artifacts from a sunken spanish galleon. If we had to shoot film, 180,000 coins plus artifacts would have taken forever. We did it in a year. These days we are 100% digital. we use digital for mapping UW sites and documenting the digs. Plus we are slowly scanning images from the 70's and 80's to document the history of the project. See Natl. Geo. june 76 and feb 82.
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#4 Leslie


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:46 AM

In my lab & field work I use digital photography to record live color patterns & taxonomic characters of invertebrates & small fish. Most of my images are taken through a Leica MZ12 dissecting scope (like the attached shrimp). These images are used for taxonomic publications, presentations, web based id guides, research and teaching. Currently I'm working on web guides for Panama, Costa Rica, Fiji, and California, and kicking around the idea of a travelling exhibition featuring marine invert images from Costa Rica. Eventually I'd like to produce UW books that pair UW images with lab images so divers & snorkelers can see an animal in its habitat as well as what it really looks like. I also use digital images to document field sites & habitats during surveys.

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#5 JamesWood


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 04:33 PM

Hi and welcome to the new Scientific Photography forum. I see that there are already some very interesting posts! If you are a scientist, conservationist or educator and haven’t introduced yourself yet, please do so. I’d like to continue to hear how wetpixel members are using photography to discover new things and share marine science with the public.

Some uses of digital photography in science and education include:

The Cephalopod Page has been online since 1995 and started with film images digitized for the web. I discovered that many people are very interested in science including the details that get watered down, omitted or portrayed inaccurately by main sources. The internet allows scientists to put it out there as we see things. That got it started. . .

As a graduate student, I was part of a team led by Dr. Jennifer Mather that studied communication in Caribbean reef Squid in Bonaire from 1998 to 2003. This work was recently featured in the HDTV nature special “Tentacles” which has been playing on the Discovery Channel. Over time, we started to notice that the dot patterns, or star signs, on the dorsal side of squid were unique to each individual. We used to draw these on our dive slates and memorize them to identify individual squid. Different scientists would see and draw different things. Communication was a real problem; first of all, if you took your eyes of an individual squid, chances are high that it would switch places with one of the squids around it. Secondly, explaining complex dot patterns through a snorkel was, well, not exactly an ideal method. “Blag blapppfst gurgle!!!” translates to “loot at that!!!” which sounds exactly like “look at the Orion pattern on the lower left side of the third squid from the left’s mantel” when spoken through a snorkel.

Also, I wasn’t happy with the quality and cost of developing film on site or the one year delay if I took film home to develop it – by then all of last years squid would be long since dead. One year, James Wiseman let me borrow his coolpix. I could anticipate the squid’s behavior to work around the digital delay to get pictures of each squid. Then we all could retire to the base camp and over a beer actually talk to each other like normal humans - without a tube in our mouths - about the different patterns on the squid. This was great! And productivity picked up a lot.

But for publications, or anything fast, like the Jacks that prey on squid, it would be several more years before I put my Nikonos down. My name is James Wood and I haven’t shot film in at least 3 years.

I still use images for communication of science: in the classroom, online, in scientific papers. The Cephalopod Page, CephBase and the CephSchool Lesson Plans are examples of outreach projects.

I have also use image to record data. In one current project we placed octopuses on different background and took digital pictures of them. As each pixel is a bunch of RGB values, we can do real statistics to quantify how well they matched various backgrounds.
These pictures aren’t beautiful, but they do the job.

At the Bermuda Biological Station for Research colleagues use digital video and digital images to do reef surveys. We photograph set transects on the reef and then place random dots over a series of images and count the species that are under the dots. This is used to quantify what exactly is on the reef and can be compared between years for changes.

We are also collecting coral spawn and taking time series of the planula and newly settled corals. Believe it or not, this hasn’t been done for many species of Atlantic corals. These shots are done with a microscope and a coolpix.

In an experiment on how squid respond to predators, I’m taking a series of images to show people the behaviors that we commonly observe. Mere words do not begin to come close to describe what these animals are capable of.

And just for fun, I’ve been trying to capture bioluminescence of Bermuda Glow Worms.

OK YOUR turn

Dr. James B. Wood
Dr. James B. Wood
Associate Director of the Waikiki Aquarium
The Cephalopod Page

#6 Seriola


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Posted 23 September 2005 - 01:45 AM

Hey everyone, recent marine ecology graduate and AAUS scientific diver here. I've only used photography to do some boulder sampling work and then general study documentation for various grad students. Fish behavior shots for example, so far male kelp greenlings fighting (H. decagrammus). I think I would be most interested in starting a thread on high rez photo plots, see if anyone has any different methods for camera mounting, permanent mounting and even software for counting critters. Very cool to see the diverse ways other ppl here using their skills in science.
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#7 Tom_Kline


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Posted 07 October 2005 - 09:53 PM

I have been using photography for decades as a research tool but have only used digital photography in the last couple of years and only very recently underwater. I have done more digital photomicroscopy than UW photography to now. Since some of my research takes place in or near shallow freshwater; I have taken some UW pix without scuba or being completely submerged for illustration. My avatar is as example of shallow freshwater UW photography - however it is a scanned film image.

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#8 Tom_Kline


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Posted 07 October 2005 - 10:15 PM

Not all my research is in shallow water! I just now snagged this pic from a powerpoint presentation I gave at the last annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium (they take place each January in Anchorage). I took it on an oceanography cruise aboard the R/V Alpha Helix in the northern Gulf of Alaska in December 2004 with a D70 and the 'kit lens.' As you can see research can be a challenging experience! The Helix is 40m long and is the oldest vessel in the UNOLS fleet, about 40 years old and due for retirement.

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Thomas C. Kline, Jr., Ph. D.
Oceanography & Limnology
Housed digital cameras: Canon EOS-1Ds MkII, EOS-1Ds MkIII, and EOS-1D_X; and Nikon D1X, D2X, and D2H. Lens focal lengths ranging from 8 to 180mm for UW use. Seacam housings and remote control gear. Seacam 150D and 250D, Sea&Sea YS250, and Inon Z220 strobes.



#9 JamesWood


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Posted 12 October 2005 - 12:36 PM

Welcome aboard Seriola and Tom. By all means please start threads on topics that interest you. Tom, the have been questions about digital photomicroscopy which I'm sure you are more qualified than I am to answer.

Dr. James B. Wood
Associate Director of the Waikiki Aquarium
The Cephalopod Page

#10 Ferg42


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Posted 12 January 2006 - 04:33 AM

Hi Folks,

Great to see there's a scientist's corner! Just introducing myself as a new member. I'm a marine biologist, currently based in UK, but with research interests in the Arabian Region. I did my PhD in Chile on behavioural ecology of invertebrates on beaches (not much photography there). More recently I've been involved in consultancy work in Oman, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia- both scientific research and educational work.
We've been using fixed quadrat photo monitoring of coral communities offshore from a large power/desalination plant to look at effects of hot hyper-saline effluent.
I've also just completed an interactive CD on Oman's marine life- compiled in flash- with lots of photographs, video, sounds etc, aimed at school children in the 12-16 range and in both english and arabic (which was a massive pain to work with in flash!). One thing we successfully did, which was quite fun was made a 360 degree VR panorama in a shallow coral habit by stitching together about 10 scanned slides from a Nik V with 15mm lens. It turned out pretty good (well at least i think so!).
We also quite regularly use UW video to record benthic features along transects.
I have to confess to being a bit of a gear- freak. Currently getting really excited about getting an EOS 5D and ikelite housing. Up until now I've mainly been using a housed Olympus 5050 and Inon strobe.
In Oman we also have an active cetacean research group and have been using photography alot for photo-ID work, particularly on humpback whales, but opportunities to photograph them UW have been limited mainly due to poor viz and flightly whales.

If anyone's interested I also have a recent UK coastal project for children online:


I'm hoping to expand this type of format in the future to produce entertaining interactive web experiences for marine areas around the world.

Anyway, I look forward to following everyone's exploits in the forum.


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#11 MikeVeitch


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Posted 14 January 2006 - 04:45 AM

Very interesting work Fergus, i hope you continue to give us more info. Even if not a lot of people respond, i am sure most read this and are getting some great info.

Welcome to Wetpixel

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#12 james


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Posted 14 January 2006 - 08:39 AM


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#13 Leslie


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Posted 15 January 2006 - 08:48 PM

Hi Fergus! I look forward to hearing - and seeing - more from you!
Cheers, Leslie

#14 d.abdo



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Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:05 PM

Hi Everyone,

Dave here. I use photography in a variety of ways for my work/studies. I am currently in the last few months of my PhD studies. I am research the poulation dynamics of two marine sponges (one of which produces a potent antiumor compound in pre-clinical trials). I use photography to document changes in the sponges I study from monitoring their health, to determining if any asexual reproduction is occuring. I also document the little critters which utlise the sponges as habitats - you would be amazed with the divesity of fauna (and reproducing too!). The most advanced use of photgraphy in my work is to determine the volume of the sponges i study - to monitor their natural growth patterns (to do accurately - use to have to remove the animal from the substarte or use unaccurate ruler method(lxwxh)). I do this by using a stereo camera system (made up of two canon 30D's and video lights) (developed by my supervisor and me) to take stereo image pairs around the target sponge. Then using these image sets and a software program developed by a college of mine - the volume can be accurately and precisely determined. I have a paper published on the work if anyone is interested.
I also use photgraphy in the lab when examining the histological samples (for studying the sponge reproduction) and during taxonomic work on the sponges (looking at their spicules and skeletons).

I have also used video and digital stills for habitat mapping and surevys of fauna in my previous employment. I look forward to contributing to this forum, sorry about blabbing - but thought you might be interested. If anyone wants more info on what I do or just wnats a chat dont hesitate to ask.

Cheers Dave

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#15 zan



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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:44 AM

Hello everyone!

I'm a (brand new) marine biologist in Scotland, working at Glasgow university. I graduated in 2006 and stayed on to work on a project on cod parasites which will be finishing up this month. After that I'm transferring onto a project looking at the bycatch and discard rates in the Nephrops fishery. Most of the photography I do at work involves microscopy at the moment (light and SEM) although I'm hoping to be able to get some video surveys done during the next project as well.

Looking forward to meeting you all


#16 hagainativ



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Posted 27 December 2008 - 10:53 PM

Hello, and happy new year!

My name is Hagai Nativ and I'm very glad that this is happen to be my first massage in wetpixel...

I'm about to graduate my B.S'c at marine biology and new to the UW photography, so I Was very happy to find this forum yesterday...
My list of equipment is: Nikon D300 with an Ikelite housing ant 2X DS125 substrobes with two primery lenses as for now, the Nikon 10.5 fisheye and the Nikon 18-70 which, I guess, soon be replaced, or a nice decent macro lens to be added to the list.

My primery goal in the field of marine biology is to become a better UW photographer and to be a specialized photographer for UW researche.

As a start, my seminar is about Scientific Photography (which happen to be the forum name...).

The primery method I exemine in the seminar is Time Laps Photography as a research tool- so if any of you have some articals about it I'll be glad.

My first method I'll share with you, is Time Laps as well, and I'll describe the setting that I used to make a 1:30 min. length movie, which shows a full day (sunrise to sunset) in a naked coral (polips without a Calcium skeleton).

The camera is mounted on a tripod with a macro lens infront of the coral aquarium.
The aquarium is wraped with black paper as backround and a reflaction preventer, with a place to stick the lens infront of the coral.
The camera in mode A (Aperture) and all the other setting are set to auto (Shutter, Iso, WB).
The Aperture set to 10 (depends in the light you have on your lab, but close enough to get a nice D.O.F.)
The camera sets in the Interval Shooting manu: Start: now, take one picture every 10 seconds. (can be varies as for final usage)

I've started to shoot at dark (Iso 3200 and a 5 sec. expo.) and gradually added more light to the scene, to make the aperance of sunrise to the movie.

After shooting- The whole sequence of images (3000) resized to 1080p standard and stitched to a movie on movie maker program.

I cannot show you the movie as for now, becouse the research it made for is not yet published (and it's not mine), but I prommise to share it with you here and to give a link to it once I can.

good luck!


Hagai Nativ - Underwater photographer

#17 Bent C

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 09:47 AM


For my part my picture use will be as an educator. I use my UW-photography a lot in may day job as a lecturer at a swedish university. My main teaching is in basic ecology, population ecology, environmental issues and tropical ecology. For those subjects, UW photography gives a load of really clear examples to use. The people I teach are mainly in their early 20ies, flooded with media during their growth, so images have to be unusual to get the attention of the students. UW photos are not main course even for biology students, so attention is almost always there. In Sweden, as in most of the "western" world, kids tend not to like natural sciences. Part of my day job is to give natural science inspirational talks to teachers and students of primary, secondary and high schools. I have set up a talk called "From 4095 m asl to 30 m below the surface" with pictures covering a transect from the summit of Mount Kinabalu on Borneo to the lower levels of coral reefs, with most of the pictures from rain forests and coral reefs. I have showed this now about 250-300 times for kids from 4 to 20ish years (albeit with an age-adapted way of commenting the pictures) and it works very well. The first time I did the show, due to a misunderstanding with the organisers and me, I talked to 75 kids 6-10 years old for an hour. Surprisingly enough, the whole thing worked very well, the only problem being the load of questions from the children (snakes, lioonfish, sharks and that kind of animals being the ficus of the questions). I also have had more or less nightmarish assignments a couple of times with the "dropout" classes of schools, but even these kids tend to find pictures of sharks, sea snakes, dolphins, barracudas (the cooler the better) interesting enough to actually listen for a while at least.

I use my pictures also out of my university assignment. I run some eco-diving tours in the Red Sea every year, where divers listen to lectures on non diving time, and then find examples of what I have shown during lectures when diving. I do those schedules both in a more formal way on weeklong liveaboards as well as on shorter, less formal, day diving events. Both are a lot of fun to do, and both really reqiures quite an amount of reasonably good UW pictures.

However, one of the pictures that most often gets the most comments is anot an UW picture, however related to UW. It shows the hand of a woman that happened to stick her hand into a carpet anemone. Enjoy!

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Bent Christensen
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