I finally figured out the fish. I solved the flash problems, the black background, reflections… but the fish were still not showing their true beauty. Finally I realized “Ah ha, turn off the lights!” Now, that’s not really an option in camp since the glaring sun can’t be turned off, but in the lab I can control things. Once the lights were off the fish started moving around instead of just sitting on the bottom of the tank.
And they started to give their colors. It’s funny, it’s a lot like a chameleon: they aren’t pretty when they’re stressed. But their colors come out when they are comfortable.
So after playing soft music… I took some photos!
The teams are back, with fish for me to photograph. I’m building a back-log of fish, which is good since I can deal with them in Gamba, where it is easier to have a studio set-up.
We also had the logistics team come out to help us with the power situation.
The fish team brought back some electric catfish! They were dead of course since they can zap you. They’re interesting, they can hunt in packs and they will use their discharge of electricity all at once to wipe out a school of fish for food. They reek as dead fish… and they are ugly and not photogenic, but then, they are dead.
Antoine and Jean Claude went fishing, and I ran after them since I was a little stir crazy due to the lack of power. I was lucky! They happened to go fishing in a beautiful location. It was a swamp in the savannah, but the trees that grow in the areas are extremely interesting looking.
And! The fisherman caught a huge frog, its was inspiring to see Axel from the amphibian team run over full of gusto to capture the frog. Who knew our bathing spot had so much life.
I’m getting used to the back and forth from Mouloundo to Gamba. The truck takes the ferry to get across the Nyanga river, which generally gives some fun photos.
We got stuck this time around. That always leads to the situation where one has to contemplate whether I take photos or help with the situation? I usually take photos until I’m needed, since there were only four of us this time around my push eventually was needed.
Once in camp things slowed down a bit. We have had generator problems and surges of wattage had fried Tobi’s rechargeable batteries so I had to stay away from charging for the moment. I photographed fish until my batteries ran out. Fish team and Amphibian team are off at the other end of the study area, near the Boome Boome river, so camp is pretty quiet.
Now I’m really seeing up close what I am bathing with as the team looks as specimens under the microscope. I think insects are so cool. As soon as I started buying camera equipment, I got macro tubes. I’ve never had a chance to use them until now: finally I have subjects so small that I need them. I would say invertebrates that are dead (and not moving) make the job much easier.
I do wish I had a third flash to help prevent the shadows, but sometimes I can work around it. So this one insect has a cup for his front hands bit it is totally awesome, it fits right onto the face. The macro scientist says the attachment on the bug is a scooper to get food but I like the idea of it being an anti-scuba mask that the bug puts over it’s face when it’s out of the water to survive!
It was nice to wake up this morning to a red sunrise. I worked more on fish and macro invertebrates in the morning and we headed back to Gamba in the afternoon. The macro team needs the lab for the microscopes, plus it’s a much easier environment for lab work. Protection from the wind makes a huge difference.
The drive back was much wetter due to the rain.
I almost had a heart attack today: for whatever reason my laptop charger stopped working, and I was ‘calmly’ trying to solve the problem… thankfully there was a youtube video on how to fix it by resetting things… Once I fixed it I was so relieved of the fear of not having a computer for many weeks that the macro team had a good chuckle at all my exclamations.