Notes from the field

Australian Geographic - - Notes from the field -

Pho­tograph­ing Syd­ney sub­merged

(page 66) also made Justin Gil­li­gan re­flect on big­ger issues. While div­ing in the fa­mil­iar wa­ters of Syd­ney

Har­bour, he be­came most con­cerned by the plas­tic waste he saw flood the city’s wa­ter­ways af­ter rain – a critical con­tem­po­rary threat to ur­ban wa­ter­ways. But the pol­lu­tion also pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for some outstanding pho­tog­ra­phy, ex­plains Justin: “It was critical to find scenes that com­bined ur­ban and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments. One ex­am­ple was a blenny that cre­ated a home in a soft­drink can. It echoed the re­silience of many species in these wa­ter­ways that man­age to live along­side ur­ban devel­op­ment.”

A ma­jor ob­sta­cle when shoot­ing this story was the weather. “Rain and storms of­ten in­ter­rupted clear, calm days, mak­ing un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy a challenge,” Justin says. “I fo­cused on por­traits and land­scapes dur­ing dark , moody weather, and worked un­der wa­ter when the clouds cleared.”

It wasn’t all hard work, though.

Like Randy, Justin also met some ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple while re­port­ing this story. “I was in­spired to meet pas­sion­ate peo­ple work­ing hard ei­ther to im­prove the un­der­stand­ing of our interaction with these wa­ter­ways, or to di­rectly im­prove the health of the wa­ter­ways through their ac­tions,” he says. “In the end, it was im­por­tant to fo­cus on the pos­i­tives.”

We’re also de­lighted to feature an ex­clu­sive ar­ti­cle by botanist and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Royal Botanic Gar­dens Syd­ney Pro­fes­sor

David Mab­ber­ley, who’s long been as­so­ci­ated with AUS­TRALIAN GEO­GRAPHIC.

David was closely in­volved with the pub­li­ca­tion last year of Joseph Banks’

Flo­ri­legium, fea­tur­ing the beau­ti­ful images cre­ated by En­deav­our’s botan­i­cal il­lus­tra­tor, Syd­ney Parkin­son, more than two cen­turies ago. It’s a re­mark­able sci­en­tific out­come from one of the 18th-cen­tury jour­neys of Cook, one of the world’s great nav­i­ga­tors and a true ad­ven­turer.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Justin Gil­li­gan waits for the per­fect shot of a blue groper.

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