Last year, a friend of mine once commented that I had captured a ‘macro moment’ when I posted a picture of a tiny bobtail squid devouring an even tinier shrimp. While underwater macro photography seeks to represent the smallest ocean inhabitants in a beautiful and often artistic way, I guess a ‘macro moment’ is something more than that — I might define it as as an instance of nature in action on a miniature scale. What’s more, macro moments are rare — you need a bit of luck to capture one. Bobtail squid eating shrimp, Subic Bay, Philippines 2014
Now I have something to confess: when I was taking the above photo, I did not actually notice the shrimp! I was concentrating like crazy on trying to get the jittery bobtail both in the frame and in focus (a tough job with the Sony RX100 camera) and I only discovered the ‘bonus’ I had captured later, when reviewing my shots on screen. I probably shouldn’t say this here, but this happens rather more often than I’d like! I therefore I want to call this kind of situation an ‘accidental macro moment’.
On my recent trip to Moalboal, Philippines, I had a BIG accidental macro moment. It happened whilst on a night dive at the popular Pescador Island divesite. My buddy pointed out a crinoid shrimp — a little shrimp that lives on a feather star. It was halfway up a ‘branch’ of the star and it looked kind of silvery. I started snapping it. Then I noticed that suddenly there seemed to be two shrimps — one translucent and one black. Then, I thought, hmm, the translucent one looks dead … But it was only when I reviewed my pictures that I ‘saw’ what was actually happening during this accidental macro moment! Take a look and see for yourself:
1 2 3 4 5 Yup, this little crinoid-dweller was in the process of shedding its exoskeleton, i.e. molting — right at the moment when I was snapping it! (photos 1 and 2). The exoskeleton then remained attached to the branch of the crinoid for a moment (photo 3) before falling into the middle of the star. And look how shiny the little shrimp looks with its brand new shell. Shrimps only molt once every few weeks so what you see here is no common occurence.
What I can learn from this is to remember to observe a critter carefully for a while BEFORE going in for the shot. I’m sure for all the moments I’ve successfully captured, there are many more that I accidentally didn’t capture for want of looking properly. In this case, although I wish I’d realised what was actually happening here during the dive itself, I’m really happy to have captured this special macro moment … even if it was accidentally!
Have you ever had an accidental macro moment? Do leave a comment below.
If you enjoyed this post, please do follow this site by ‘liking’ its facebook page to receive future updates, or subscribe by email (scroll down, bottom right). Thank you!