"No cage, no metal suit, just a camera between me and their teeth."
Michael Muller is fascinated with sharks. Ever since he was a kid, surfing in Northern California, he's loved the creatures -- Great Whites, in particular. And Michael Muller, fortunately for us, is also a professional photographer. He has snapped pictures of sharks from all around the world, including the seas of the Galapagos, South Africa, Fiji, and Guadalupe Island.
But how do you actually capture the kind of amazing -- and tantalizingly, terrifyingly close-up -- images that Muller has? In a Q&A with the blog Feature Shoot, Muller described the self-developed technology that allows him to conduct photo shoots with some of the most frightening, and beautiful, subjects on the planet. To get pictures like his, you may not need a bigger boat. But you will need a better camera.
To capture sharks in their inky habitats, Muller created what he calls "the most powerful waterproof strobes in the world": 1,200-watt lights that effectively illuminate even the darkest of waters. His ad hoc technology -- "Hollywood lighting," Muller calls it -- allows him to bring "a full blown studio to the animals in their environment." Which makes his underwater expeditions resemble more traditional photo shoots: He's got equipment; he's got assistants; he's got subjects who might, at any moment, snap at him. The strobes he uses below the surface are pretty much the same as the ones Muller uses above it -- to do commercial work like shooting a campaign for The Avengers -- "only we are 70 feet down with dozens of hungry sharks around us."