Archive for June, 2015
Monday, June 22nd, 2015
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across these guys. No, I haven’t seen them in the flesh, they are shy and hard to spot and there are none in captivity, and they only inhabit the northern coasts of Australia. They were only discovered in 2005, and their slow breeding habits coupled with their preference for shallow waters near human habitation means they are at serious risk of becoming extinct. There is a big campaign to draw attention to their plight so I hope you’ll spread the word.
Saturday, June 20th, 2015
When I started this project I intended to have 30 pictures finished by the solstice, then I realised the folly of this deadline and extended it to June 30. That means I HAVE to do one picture a day from now on. My main problem is that each new subject sets me off on a new trajectory – the colours and patterns and extraordinary capabilities of these reef creatures are setting challenges that I’ve never encountered before. I’m loving it – but it’s exhausting!
Day 14 evolved out of an experiment with relief solarplate. I thought I’d try to project the amazing colours of the parrotfish by printing a bright pink over a blue background, but it actually looked rather dull and lifeless until I had the idea of printing the pink on white Hosho paper and hand colouring it with Dr Martens inks. I’ve had these inks for over 40 years and they are still as fresh as the day I bought them – if somewhat depleted. I then scanned the fish into Photoshop and they bred rapidly. The blue background certainly enhances their psychedelic colours!
Friday, June 5th, 2015
I’m actually two days behind in this project but I’m not going to rush it – will just have to catch up at some stage.
The starfish was done entirely in Photoshop: it really has very long arms but I love the pattern on its body. The background is supposed to be the glowing coral.
If you think Day 9 looks like something out of a children’s story or a science fiction movie, that’s exactly how it appeared to me. These shrimps with attitude have a symbiotic relationship with sea urchins – and as you can see they are advancing greedily on the poisonous baby tentacles, which have no harmful effect on them.
Day 10 is the Harlequin Sweetlips, also known as the Clown or the Manyspotted Sweetlips. Do not confuse with the clown fish (Nemo) or the Harlequin Tuskfish (that’s the next one I’m doing). These two are possibly mother and daughter, father and son or mother and son or even father and daughter – the juveniles transform into very different adults.
I had great fun with this one. It’s a harlequin tuskfish swimming amongst a coral spawning. It started as a monoprint, then got transformed in Photoshop. This is the digital image and I won’t do any more to it. I haven’t printed it on watercolour paper yet but I intend to.
Well this is day 12 but I should be on day 14 by now! This creature, the Mimic Octopus, is a shape shifter extraordinaire. And it’s possibly the most intelligent marine creature in the world. In this picture it’s simply using its camouflage to blend into the background, but it can also imitate sea snakes, flounders, jellyfish and marine plants – as well as a host of other things.
This is what I want to do when I go to the Great Barrier Reef. Unlike its cousin the stingray, manta rays don’t contain a barb, and have the largest brain to body ratio of any Elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates). And despite its enormous size, it’s harmless to humans – that huge mouth eats plankton and fish larvae.