Martin Edge Photo Clinic

The striking image of a clownfish against the crimson skirt and tentacles of an anemone on the cover of last month's Dive International was a classic Martin Edge shot. The picture was taken at Anemone City, near Ras Mohammed, in the northern Red Sea, during the worst plankton bloom encountered in that area for two decades. But 5m visibility and a pea-green sea did not stop him from taking a winner, which is an object lesson to all photographers.

Martin was diving with his wife, Sylvia, last August and they spent some time searching among the anemones dotting the shelf, after which the area is named. They were looking for one which was easily accessible and photogenic. Eventually, they saw exactly what they were looking for. The anemone was medium sized, four clownfish were nestling in its tentacles and, best of all, a gentle current was lifting up its foot to reveal the crimson skirt.

Martin and Sylvia hovered quietly nearby for about 20 minutes until the fish had grown accustomed to their presence. Then Martin moved in closer, using the cameras AF facility to focus on one of the fish, which seemed particularly happy to pose. The main flashgun was on an arm to one side of the subject. Sylvia hovered on the other side holding a smaller flashgun in such a position that its light would soften the shadows cast by the main strobe. The master gun was set on TTL, so that its light was quenched as soon as a sensor in the camera judged the subject had received sufficient exposure. The smaller flashgun was also fitted with a sensor which turned it off as soon as the main one went out.

'The photograph was taken during a course I was running on Red Sea Surveyor,' Martin explains. 'I gave a seminar the previous evening on the picture potential of the area. I pointed out that the special feature of Anemone City was these particular crimson-skirted anemones. I have never seen them anywhere else in the Red Sea. 'Therefore, the prime purpose of our dive was to find anemones which could be approached easily and without any possibility of harming the environment in any way. I was lucky to find this particular one with its skirt being pushed up by a current. Otherwise, it is possible to reveal the crimson skirt by very gently brushing up the anemone's foot.

'I took 20 exposures. Three were publishable, but the one selected for the front cover was the best. The others were spoiled because the fish was not entirely in the picture. I used the remainder of the film on abstracts of the tentacles and the skirt which, of course, appeared to be dark green because red is one of the first colours to disappear when you go underwater. However, I had a small aiming light on the main flashgun. This helped me focus on the subject and also revealed the true colours of the anemone.'

Mechnical details: Nikon 801s in Subal housing, Nikon SB-24 flashgun in housing made by Kevin Cullimore and set to under-expose by -3/4-stop, Ikelite MS50 with Ikelite slave sensor, Kodak Elite 50 ISO film.( by Colin Doeg)

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