Getting good photos of the Milky Way is already difficult, yet photographer Ricardo Ghion decided to give himself an additional challenge during his latest photoshoot. He wanted to capture a clear view of the sky as well as the bioluminescence in the waters below. It took a lot of planning and required a challenging setup, but the results were well worth it.
The photos were taken in Cananeia, a city on the south coast of São Paolo in Brazil. For several years, Ghion had heard locals talking about bioluminescence in the area, but he’d been unable to see it with his own eyes. That changed one day when he was out shooting the Milky Way and noticed the water glowing as the dolphins moved. After that, he was determined to get what he saw on film.
Ghion set out for an area where fishermen leave their boats in man-made marinas. To ensure that he’d be able to see the water glow, Ghion had to plan his shoot carefully. Humans are typically able to see bioluminescence in the water when there are algae blooms of plankton. As the water moves, it’s possible to see the incredible blue glow. In order to see it, however, the timing needs to be right.
Not only must there be absolution darkness and no light pollution, but the waters must be warm and it should be a cold night. While the mangroves made a picturesque location for the photographs, there was a lot of juggling behind the scene to make it work.
“To take the photo, I had to get into the water up to my waist with the camera to obtain a more pleasing composition.” Ghion tells My Modern Met. “The water was hot, but the night was cold, and in total darkness, you could hear the dolphins breathing a few meters away.”
Once he had the camera in position, he needed to multitask. “Bioluminescence happens when the water is agitated, and as the night was without wind, I had to program the shutter with a timer and with another hand throw water upwards—all while being careful not to drop everything into the mangroves! ”
Ghion’s tenacity paid off with these stunning photographs. “I hope people feel alive when they see my photos and that they feel and can have respect for nature.”