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Definitive Proof That The Underwater World Is Eerily Photogenic At Night

Marine photographer Darren Jew paints with light when no light is available.

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Australian marine photographer Darren Jew spent the last 30 years capturing the wonders of the ocean. But in his recent trip to Papua New Guinea for National Geographic's Tales By Light, he attempted a different approach to photographing the sea bed - something he calls "painting with light".

"Of all the things I’ve photographed in my life I love photographing the ocean the most. It’s my love, it’s my passion, the way the light falls in the sea, the creatures within it."


Jew was given the dream opportunity to photograph the wreck of a World War II Mitsubishi Bi-Plane, code named "Pete", resting 30 metres down on the ocean floor near the coast of Rabaul. The wreckage remains undisturbed for 70 years.

"When [my team] first saw Pete, we were all absolutely blown away. After 70 years on the ocean floor, she was incredibly intact."

Jew explained his first attempt at photographing the wreck - in the daylight:

"This (photos above) is what Pete looks like during the day, photographed with available light. She is still resting upright on the sloping seafloor. The more water that light travels through, the bluer it becomes."

Although already a beauty in the daytime, Jew knew he can bring out the wreck's features further by using a special photographic technique called "painting with light".

This technique involved the following setup:

-shooting at night when no light rays from above water can interrupt the exposure

-setting up the camera on a tripod underwater

-swimming around the wreck with a torch and shining light to the spots that require it

-exposing the shot for five minutes

And the result proved that Jew's efforts were all worth it.

"There is something nice about shooting Pete in the ocean’s darkest hour as the biplane is representative of one of history’s darkest hours."

Darren Jew is a Canon Master marine photographer whose extensive resume includes photographing the oceans and wildlife of Tonga, South America, Antarctica and his home soil, Australia. His expedition to the Papua New Guinea wreck is featured in National Geographic's Tales By Light series.