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.