Antarctica: 'Hell yeah you go', by Adam Lau


Animal Planet film team on the bow of the Steve Irwin. Photo: Adam Lau
My co-photographer Adam Lau has an article out at Sports Shooter about our trip to Antarctica to document Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling campaign. It captures what we went through very well, and there's even a photo of me in the mix. Worth the read. Congrats, Adam!

Also, here's a link to the discussion thread at SportsShooter. I think someone should ask Adam for a tutorial on SuperClamp usage. ;)

Close-ups of tubarões garner page hits

I checked Google Analytics today to try to figure out why echeng.com's traffic skyrocketed 350% on July 20. It turns out that the extra traffic was all from Brazilians!

It was all because of an article posted on BBC Brasil that included some of my shark photography. I convinced them to include my URL in the credit, and even though it was not a live link, I still had over 3,000 visits and 14,000 page views on echeng.com from Brazil that day. I was also flooded with Facebook requests. It's a good thing I don't use Orkut anymore -- A Brazilian feature combined with an Orkut presence would have been insane!

If the BBC had given me a live link, it would have been a lot easier to track -- the referral page would have popped right out in the stats.

The perils of providing shark images to media


an article today in the sun featured some of my images
I had three articles come out today in the U.K. about some lemon shark images I took in the Bahamas:

1. Telegraph: Lemon sharks feeding frenzy in Bahamas captured on camera 2. The Sun: Shark photos are jaw-some 3. Mail Online: Open wide! The extraordinary pictures inside the mouths of sharks at feeding time

Some wildlife photographers and conservationists out there are very much against images of sharks with jaws agape being shown in the media. Whenever I'm providing images of sharks with jaws open to stock agencies, I worry that the images will be used for sensationalist pieces that fuel the typical person's media-driven fear of sharks.

In the interview for the articles linked above, I wrote this:

> Shark photographers who are also conservationists exist in a strange area -- we have both protective and sensationalist attitudes toward sharks. On the one hand, we hate to see so-called "sell-out" television programs who only serve to exploit sharks as being dangerous predators who may bite humans. At the same time, we love to capture images of sharks that show their power and predatory skill. If you look at the statistics, very few humans are killed by sharks each year. Given the actual numbers, it's pretty ridiculous that people are afraid of sharks. I hope to use my shark imagery to start a dialog that will help to dispel common misperceptions about sharks.

Obviously, my quote didn't make it into any of the articles. One even decided to include "feeding frenzy" in the title even though I made it clear in the interview that sharks were baited to the boat using fish scraps (i.e. there was no feeding frenzy). Still, the text of the articles are pretty neutral, and the comments in the Daily Mail article are all civil and respectful of sharks.

There is no doubt that some people in the shark "conservation" industry, a group of people who seem to be best at fighting with each other rather than focusing on protecting sharks, will not be so happy to see shark teeth in these articles. I did convince the same press agency that supplied these articles do an article about the evils of shark-finning, so using sensationalist images to open dialogs about conservation issues can be effective.

Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008


Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008
I saw a tweet from @ravenb tonight about the fire at Angel Island, and rushed out of my house at 11:30pm for a quick view up in Diamond Heights. I hope no one was hurt in the fire, and I hope they get it under control soon. As of 11:15pm, it had already consumed more than 100 acres.


Close-up of Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008


Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008

I snapped some photos, which are sort of mediocre. I was 2 hours too late and couldn't find my 500mm lens (I hope the case is in one of my packed boxes!!). There will most certainly be some spectacular photos online by morning; I look forward to seeing Mona's photos, which will be are up on SF Magazine's website sometime tonight.