Working with a Pro: Behind the Scenes of a NatGeo Instagram Shot

Or how to unexpectedly find yourself in the NatGeo Instagram feed

I spent the past week in a perpetually beautiful setting. Part of TED’s Mission Blue II cruise, we were aboard the National Geographic Orion as we sailed from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands. The sunrises, coral reefs and crystal blue water all provided ample backdrop for stunning photos.

Embarrassingly, I took only two all week. I was too awestruck by all the incredible photographers on board to even try myself. One of the most inspiring: Thomas Peschak, photographer for National Geographic. To give you a sense of just how good he is, let me tell you the short background story of the above photograph (that’s already racked up over 220,000 likes on Instagram).

This wasn’t a photo shoot. I had thrown the new OpenROV Trident off the side of the ship to show a few people how well it maneuvered in the open ocean. Thomas walked by the scene and inquired about what we were doing:

“Do you want me to hop in and get a shot of it in the water?”

Of course. Thomas quickly changed into his wetsuit, hopped on a Zodiak and drove around to the side of the ship. He rolled off the side of the inflatable and let the current pull him past the ship (he accounted for the drift before he got in the water). Then he shouted some directions about how and where he wanted me to drive the drone. The current was strong, which was fine for the robot, but tough for the diver. After a few passes he shouted that he was done — he had the shot.

As evidenced by the post, he certainly did.

Here’s a video of how it went down:

video by Gwen Schroeder

P.S. There’s still time to back the OpenROV Trident Kickstarter project!