On the ocean floor I am alone, this is the way I like to be when I photograph super predators. I need all my senses to be sharp, no distractions.
Cruising locked, loaded and ready at a moment’s notice to unload its full fire power The Landlord has arrived and a large Great White Shark ominously cruises into view. I stand in my unwieldy contraption that is a pioneering attempt at a mobile underwater photographic hide, not knowing what the great white shark’s reaction to my presence in their world will be. This is what it is all about, I live for this intimacy with my far more superior subjects, these heightened fleeting moments of intensity.
With a disdaining countenance the great white does several spiralling investigatory passes close to where I stand, each a little closer and lower than the previous orbit. I feel my pulse quicken.
I watch her, and she examines me.
Movement, a heartbeat, a small electronic signature are all cues for her to move closer. Ever bolder now she builds up courage to gently mouth and bump my cage, not overtly aggressively. This is her way of doing things. Satisfied I am neither food nor threat she loses interest and seamlessly fades into her kingdom of swaying forested fronds.
Never quite getting the right angle and conscious of not frightening or alarming her I chose to stand still, non-threatening but also not retreating, without depressing my trigger and firing my strobes which would show off her beautiful and powerful form.
Cursing, I thought my chance was gone. Then, fish scatter past me from behind the cage. I turn, she is back. Using the aqueous mist as her smokescreen of surprise coupled with her far superior senses she had gone behind me using stealth as her method of deception.
I drop down in the cage getting as low an angle as I can to enhance the perspective of looking up at her, as well as positioning her rightfully one wrung higher up on the food chain. This time she is confident, and at last this is my chance as she comes unerringly straight at me. I wait until she is just a few feet away.
I fire and see the light caress her snow white underbelly. She’s been seen and so she banks away, mouth slightly agape with that ever present great white smile, seemingly that tiny bit wider.
This time the mouse has caught the cat, but the cat knows sooner or later it will collect it’s rent.
Exhibition: 173cm x 118.5cm (68” x 46.7”)
Classic: 118cm x 81cm (46.5” x 31.8”)
© Chris Fallows 2018