Jim Hellemn uses custom-built camera systems to photograph hundreds of closeup images brightly lit with full spectrum light, and then creates a perfectly seamless composite image capturing the incredible colors and exotic marine life of coral reefs.
About The Artist
has captured in detail the spectacular colors and
incredible beauty of Earth's endangered coral reefs
Coral reefs are perhaps the most the most colorful places on the planet, yet it takes some special imaging techniques to actually see very much of one. Ocean water filters sunlight, so everything underwater is blue and hazy. You can only see a coral reef well up-close, and you'll need to bring some light with you. Even with a lot of artificial light, if you were to back up enough to see the whole thing – it disappears in blue. Underwater imaging specialist Jim Hellemn has spent his career finding new ways to capture the essence of these special places, developing equipment and techniques that enable him to photograph an entire reef. His first coral reef image "Great Wall West" was published in National Geographic in 2001, and was the first "stitched" image. Almost two GIGApixels, it was the highest resolution underwater image ever created. Jim spends days or even months on a reef, taking hundreds of precise photos up close with specially designed light sources. In post-production, he uses high-power computers to assembles all individual images into a seamless super-wide landscape that captures all the true colors and detail. The images are more than just a photograph of a beautiful landscape. They document an ecosystem – an important ecosystem that is vital to our planet.
"As I started to spend more time on reefs making even more detailed images, I began to realize that these images are much more than a picture - they're a portrait of whole community of animals living together in an ecosystem. I get to know that community, feel what's happening there and make a connection. Perhaps if other people can make that connection they will see the ocean differently. My personal hope is that my images can help people begin to appreciate the ocean as a vital part of our world and take steps to protect it."