Chris was shooting specifically to create fine art prints. He was drawn to this massive gorgonian coral by the combination of strong colours and the 3D feel created by his ultra-wide-angle lens. At more than four metres across, it was the largest gorgonian he had ever seen. By day it sheltered a shoal of tiny cardinalfish, hiding from circling mackerel, jacks and other predators. Chris dived in this location every week for much of his two-year expedition to Papua New Guinea. ‘I was very familiar with this coral and had pre-visualised many compositions. But on this occasion the cardinalfish were resting in a tighter vertical shoal than I could have hoped for,’ he says. The greatest challenge was getting close to the coral without touching and therefore harming it, and positioning his strobes (above and below) without spooking the fish. He eventually achieved the composition he was after. And he even managed to reveal that some of the cardinalfish had extended throat pouches, indicating they were males incubating clutches of eggs in their mouths.
Nikon D90 + 10–17mm f3.5–4.5 lens at 17mm; 1/50 sec at f14; ISO 100; Aquatica housing; two Ikelite DS-161 strobes.
Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea
Chris Gug, USA
Chris is an underwater photographer specialising in fine art. He is represented by his own galleries in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, USA, and by other galleries in the USA and around the world. His work has featured in numerous magazines and exhibitions, and his portfolio spans more than 40 countries – a number he hopes to at least double before being eaten by a shark.