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September 11, 2008

Photographing Sharks

Diver_wild_reef2 Ever wonder how we get those up-close and personal photos of the sharks, rays and other fishes in Wild Reef? By diving in with them. Shedd photographer Brenna Hernandez, a certified scuba diver, recently did a photo session in the 400,000-gallon Wild Reef shark habitat. (See a slide show of her pics.) We checked in with Brenna to find out what it’s like to work in the midst of the reef’s big predators.

“It was awesome – quite peaceful,” Brenna said. “I didn’t want to get out!”

The petite photographer wore about 16 pounds of weights and used breath- and buoyancy-control techniques to stay upright and still as she shot.

Asked if she ever felt threatened, she said, “No. I had already been diving in Wild Reef twice before, for my check-out dive and just to get comfortable. The sharks are used to divers, so they didn’t pay me much attention.” In fact, most of the fishes ignored or even avoided her.

Not so the yellow-margin triggerfish, which turned out to be the most exciting subject for her. “It kept coming to my camera port,” Brenna said. “It was so interested in my camera that I was able to really have fun photographing it.”

This photo of Brenna was taken by her assistant, Heidi Zeiger, from the dry side of the shark habitat.

Certified scuba divers can sign up for a five-session underwater photography class at Shedd that starts in November.

Posted by Karen Furnweger, web editor

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