Photographer’s images put natural world in focus

Rani Gupta

Photos depicting everything from a great white shark hanging in midair to a reef-dwelling fish with blue fangs highlighted a Tuesday presentation of some of David Doubilet’s most recent work.

Doubilet, an underwater photographer for National Geographic, spoke to a near-capacity crowd of students and community members at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall as part of the “Live … from National Geographic” series.

Doubilet has taken photographs for more than 50 articles and has shot 11 covers for the magazine. His speech focused on two recent articles on the great white shark and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The speech began with video footage of Doubilet and his photography crew attempting to photograph a great white shark leaping into the air.

Doubilet then displayed a series of pictures of the sharks. He explained the circumstances surrounding each shot, gave general information about the animals’ habits and talked about his passion for the subject matter.

“Great white sharks are a complete and utter joy to watch underwater,” he said.

Much of Doubilet’s presentation focused on the methods used to photograph the elusive animals.

“We see great white sharks on our terms, because if we saw them on their terms, we would never see them at all,” he said.

One failed method involved putting photographers in shark cages and then dragging them through the water at high speeds in an attempt to lure the sharks.

“The sharks hated them,” Doubilet said. “They were like cop cars. That was $10,000 down the drain.”

Several pictures drew gasps from the crowd, such as two pictures that showed open shark mouths about to bite down on the camera.

Doubilet ended the shark segment with a plea to save this endangered species.

“It’s something beautiful,” he said.

During the other half of the presentation, Doubilet showed photos from his trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Pictures included various types of reefs and sea life, including barracudas, lionfish and octopuses.

The photographer even tied part of his reef presentation into the holidays.

“Now, for Valentine’s Day, we’ll look at some true reef pornography,” he said. Doubilet went on to explain shots related to reproduction and the birth of the reef and animals, including pictures of a female mushroom coral ejaculating and a photo of a beach trampled by hatched sea turtles returning to the water.

The presentation was followed with a brief question-and-answer session and a book signing.

Weinberg freshman Monica Dedich found the lecture “very thorough” and “very funny.”

“I like how he described everything, because he had lived it and showed a certain amount of passion,” she said.