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  • Writer's picturerichelletanner

Crash (splash) course in wildlife photography

As a field biologist, there are two strategies for avoiding being miserably wet and cold when exploring the intertidal zone. The first is the most popular: wear as many waterproof layers as humanly possible (while still allowing for nimble jumping between rocks with heavy bags full of gear). The second is, as far as a I know, only employed by me: wear as little clothing as possible on your bottom half + waterproof shoes and 3 winter coats. My though on this is that yeah, you'll be miserable while out in the field, but you can easily change when done - something that cannot be done if you are wearing 4 pairs of pants and inevitably flooded rain boots.

So my good friend/coauthor and I set out this morning to grab some sunrise shots of our study subject for our latest paper: nudibranchs. He is more of a tropical person, so I employed my unpopular strategy and ventured into the tidepools north of Bodega Bay wielding a $3,000+ camera in nothing but diving boots, running shorts, and my fleece-lined raincoat. Eric perched upon rocks high above me to shield the sun to get the best lighting (and to stay as far away from the icy waters as possible).

Something we didn't have time to do before this adventure was actually practice taking macro photos. How hard could it be? Turns out using a manual DSLR camera with a huge, heavy lens was more difficult than projected to be...who would have thought? /sarcasm

We still got some great shots, but at the slight expense of my personal comfort. It wouldn't be a day in the field without it! I had a lot of fun shooting these little guys and can't wait to work more with this camera. Good thing my study subjects are slow, I don't know what I would do if they were running away when I was trying to take my photos!

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