Getting marine creatures to interact with toy miniatures isn’t easy. For one, they spook easily. You can’t just go up to them and say, “Can you please stay in that spot and look scary?” Jason Isley found a way to photograph these interactions and came up with a pretty cool set of images.
Jason Isley has a great deal of international experience, including filming underwater for the the hit TV series Survivor (UK) as well as Disney’s Sacred Planet. Other programs he filmed include Animal Planet’s The Jeff Corwin Experience, Discovery Channel’s Perfect Predators, Journeys of a Lifetime and many more.
So how did these shots come to be? He explains in an interview with WetPixel:
The first shots were taken on my doorstep – Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park opposite Kota Kinabalu, I knew the beach dive at P.Sapi had various creatures like the snake eel and the devil scorpionfish so I planned the scenes around the subjects available. The first miniatures I bought were the soldiers so I concentrated on creating those scenes. I normally sketch the image I have planned so the guide or assistant knows exactly what I have in mind and also to remind myself.
He took inspiration from the work of Slinkachu as he is known for his art installations on the street. Once he thought of incorporating macro subjects like mantis shrimp and scorpionfish, images and possible subjects began to fill his head.
A lot of thought and detail is put into each shot. How long does it take him to set up and shoot each photo?
Depends on the scene, some of them have taken as little as 15 minutes to set up and shoot, however others like the little girls watering the xmas tree worms took two dives, each over an hour-long. I didn’t want to damage the coral so I found a small part of the brain coral close to the worms that had algae growing and placed her there, however the current kept taking her away whilst I was waiting for the worms to come back out.
If the subject is super shy I usually set up the miniatures and go off to shoot something else. The only problem is that the fish sometimes swim off with the miniatures.
All his photos were shot using a Nikon D800 and a 60mm macro lens, but he plans to shoot some larger scenes in the future, so that would entail using a wider lens. He also uses one strobe to create some deeper shadows.
You can purchase prints of this series here.