Video courtesy of Peter Girguis, chief scientist, Harvard University; Funded by NSF, ONR, and NOAA; ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Production and editing by Chris Linder, WHOI)
You’ve got action: deep-sea creatures doing their things at the bottom of the ocean. You’ve got cameras: new high-definition ones on the submersible Alvin. And you’ve got new LED lights. But to achieve the best imagery, every photographer knows that you can have the best cameras, and deftly zoom and adjust apertures, but those don’t mean a thing, if the light ain’t right.
Imaging starts with capturing the light off a subject, and Alvin has to bring its own lights and batteries into the dark depths. Among the objectives of this expedition is to find ways to optimize the lighting to get the best images.
After Alvin’s third science dive, the operations team, in consultation with scientists, took advantage of a non-diving day Thursday to experiment with the sub’s lighting. They rewired two additional lights lower down on the basket in front of the sub’s observer viewports, illuminating Alvin’s prime “work areas”—where the viewing fields of the pilot and scientists overlap, within reach of Alvin’s port and starboard manipulators. They also added another light on the elbow of Alvin’s manipulator arm, which they can move to home in and shine an additional spotlight on any areas or items of particular interest.
On Alvin’s fourth science dive, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Adam Soule and pilot Pat Hickey tested the adjustments. The scientists on the second and third science dives, Chris German of WHOI and Amanda Demopoulos of the U.S. Geological Survey, compared the videos they had previously recorded with those Soule collected and immediately confirmed that the lighting—and the acquired video—in Alvin’s workspaces were much improved.
But the buzz on the ship today has come from looking at results Soule got using the manipulator-mounted light together with Alvin’s HD cameras shooting video of an animal community around a crack in the Florida Escarpment. Decide for yourself how the experiment worked by viewing some footage in the video above.