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What it was like to photograph deep sea creatures in Egypt

September 29, 2014, 12:12 am | This story has an Influence Score of 1975

By riazhussain

Man is explorer by nature. Over the course of history, he has tried to ransack the land, air and seas. He is not only interested in the natural resources of these elements but also in other creatures that live around him on our planet. We know most of the life forms that roam the land, but deep sea creatures remain hidden from our eyes because they dwell in the depth of the oceans. It is not possible for all of us to dive and reach them. We know about their existence through documentaries and photographs. We look at their pictures and marvel at the diversity of deep sea creatures. Our knowledge about such living things owes a lot to modern underwater photography. 

Underwater digital photography can also be classified as form of art and the process of recording underwater dataWhile submerged digital photography presents many exciting opportunities, it also exhibits many challenges because capturing quality images underwater is not an easy task. Almost all of these problems are caused by the medium in which we choose to take these photographs. Water, through which we have to take our underwater shots, is many times denser than air and is capable of holding matter in suspension . Moreover, the light which enters the water is absorbed faster than on land because water is much denser. The result is that light levels fall considerably the deeper you go towards the bottom. When light travels from air to water it slows down as it illuminates through the denser medium. It happens when light travels from air to water at an askew angle. This refraction causes light rays to bend and the resulted distortion affects the performance of a lens. However all these problems can be circumvented through experience and the use of various techniques to enhance digital photography. For this story, we have interviewed Samuel Chinellato who is an expert in underwater photography.

Samuel Chinellato comes from Venice, Italy. He is 45-year-old. He has worked as a support engineer for a large European IT company for 20 years. His native city is located in a lagoon and known as a 'city on water'. Thus, being a Venetian, he has developed a strong association with water and diving. Sea diving has been one of his passions. As such, he has wanted to document the life of these creatures. For this purpose, he has tried to develop skills in underwater photography. His interest in the latter started with analogue videos and digital editing. He has taken many courses in photography and learned from his own underwater experiences.

Our explorer had his first underwater photography experience in 2003. In 2008, he bought his first reflex camera. Underwater photography has increased the fun he used to experience with sea diving. Through diving, he began to capture his explorations about deep sea creatures. He says that underwater photography has become relatively easier. 'Now with a standard digital camera inside a waterproof plastic housing, you can photograph deep sea creatures', he exclaims.  

Samuel has visited many places including Egypt, Western Europe, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the Maldives. His favorite place is Egypt because it offers good opportunities for sea diving and underwater photography. Moreover, it is close to his own native country.

He has been visiting Egypt for the past 13 years. Whenever he goes there, he stays for two weeks. In that country, he has visited too many places to remember. Giza, Saqqara, Cairo, Karnack, Abu Simbel, and Luxor are some of the locations that he can recall having visited. Giving us details of his love as a tourist for locales to explore in Egypt, he explains ‘I started with Sharm ten years ago but it seemed to be too touristy for me. So, I moved in the following years to  the North -- Sinai in Dahab and Nuweiba. Afterwards, I began to prefer, for my holidays, Marsa Alam, Hurgada, and El Quesir’. Of all the places, he likes Marsa Alalam the most. 

Situated between the sea and the desert, Marsa Alam is a town located on the western shore of the Red Sea in southeastern Egypt. It is famous for safaris, outings, stunning coral reefs, a huge variety of underwater creatures such as dugongs and dolphins, and diving attractions for both experienced as well as less experienced divers. The untamed nature, pleasant climate and friendly people have made this town one of the rising tourism spots in Egypt.

Talking about Marsa Alam as a tourist destination, our interviewee explained, ‘Actually, it requires a lot of pages to describe the beauty and attractions of Marsa Alam. The water is so pure and clear. It has a beautiful coral barrier and you can have the wonderful experience of watching dugongs -- a nice creature which is on the brink of extinction. Then, there are turtles and a large variety of amazing fish.

Samuel is always in search of less-frequented spots. He prefers to go to the nearby city of El Quesir if Marsa Alam is crowded with tourists. He favors protecting these treasures of nature. He says, ‘The continuing massive and often uncontrolled flow of tourists, unfortunately, is changing the habitats of these places. The result is that much of the beauties of the Red Sea are ruined, and in the case of animals, they are moving towards quieter places’.


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