Creating vibrant images involves careful selection of the subject and composition of the photo. A great composition will enhance colors and make the image pop, while poor composition will serve to underwhelm.
One way to accentuate color is to use a plain white, black, or grey background. This technique will allow the subject to stand out naturally as there is no competition to distract the eye. Also, vibrant colors work best in contrasting pairs. Examples of contrasting colors include red/green and blue/orange. Of course, this approach works best in the studio, where you have total control of the shoot. However, capturing vivid colors in nature is much more difficult where conditions can be unpredictable.
As you can probably see, the Green Moray eel certainly stands out in this shot by Schmidt. The eel's lime green skin stands out wonderfully from the dark shadow and light sands of the seabed.
Interestingly the skin of a Green Moray eel is not actually green. In fact, it is a drab brown color. They only appear a neon green color due to a mucus they secrete to protect themselves.
Another technique to make images truly stand out is to keep the image simple. Having too many subjects and lots of vivid colors is distracting. It makes it hard for the viewer to concentrate on the intended subject.
Schmidt captured this eel in Roatan, Honduras. Green morays are probably the most common species found in Roatan, mostly because they are often free-swimming. They are fearless fish that glide effortlessly along the reef, occasionally foraging for food among the crevasses. Green Morays rely upon a highly developed sense of smell to gather food and actually have poor eyesight which seems comical to me when writing so much about vivid colors.
Bokeh is another useful technique to manage images with too many colors. By blurring and blending, the competing colors are effectively blended into one background. Removing extraneous colors allows the subject to stand out front and center.
Bokeh does the same for composition. It can remove details that make the image crowded. For instance, if you are photographing a fish amongst colorful coral. Blurring out the surrounding coral will channel the observer toward the subject. With this image, this technique is not needed as there are not too many bright colors in the shot.
Now back to eels. The most common gesture most people notice Moray eels making is the continual opening and closing of the mouth. People often perceive this as threatening, but that is not the case at all. Like other fish, eels have gills, and all they are doing is breathing. It can seem intimidating close up as these eels can be large, but all they are doing is passing water over their gills to extract the oxygen. The majority of human’s fear eels because of their nasty bites. However, if unprovoked, they rarely bite humans.
One more essential factor photographers have to consider when photographing animals underwater is the water itself. Marine photographers often suggest that you get as close to the subject as you think you need to and then move in even closer.
Water absorbs light rapidly, and a persistent complaint of amateur photographers is the dull blueish-greyish hue of their images. Removing the amount of water between the camera and the subject will mean a sharper and more colorful picture. Also, seawater contains tiny particles such as seaweed and grit that you may overlook at first, but they will inevitably show up in your final images if there is too much of this matter between you and the subject. So, it would be best if you got as close as you can but always remember to maintain a safe distance
One other important aspect of images like this is raising awareness about the plight of many species of fish on our planet. While green moray eels are not currently threatened, their habitat is under substantial pressure and may not survive the next decade. Due to global warming, coral reefs are diminishing at an alarming rate. This trend is worrying because reefs and oceans serve to absorb excess heat in the atmosphere.