Feb. 13 2016

Reflecting on the past few days and looking through my notes makes me appreciate the richness of this experience even more.  Amid the flurry of holiday activities and adjusting to life at sea, I have shot over five hundred digital images, fifteen rolls of film, numerous digital video clips, five recorded interviews with crew members, and three rolls of super-8 footage. So far so good.

Rainbow in the mist off of the bow
Rainbow in the mist off of the bowSOI/ Leslie Reed
Portraits of first officer Philip.
Portraits of first officer Philip.

The seas are over three meters today, which makes normal activities like showering or walking down stairs quite challenging.  I spent the early morning attempting to take some long exposures of waves, however, the flash would not fire likely due to the high humidity.  I wasn’t able to get the shot, but I still feel like I am hitting my stride with the images. I was rewarded later in the day with a rainbow off of the bow, a memorable interview with one of the deck hands, and portraits of first mate Philipp.  He is quite an accomplished photographer himself and loaned me his Zeiss camera from the 1930s to use for the black and white rolls.

Touring the engine room

Chief engineer Allan Watt gives a tour of the engine room.
Chief engineer Allan Watt gives a tour of the engine room.SOI/ Leslie Reed.

I was also treated to a tour of the engine room by Chief Engineer Allan Watt. The crew were working on repairing some machinery and I was able to get  images of the team welding that summoned to mind Lewis Hine’s and W. Eugene Smith’s classic photographs.  The engine room is loud and hot, I have the upmost respect to the team who keeps the ship moving, and the lights on.  As Allan showed me around, he advocated for the engineers by saying in his Irish accent, “air conditioners and engines don’t just ruuuun themselves ya know!”  It was a treat to see behind the scenes of the Falkor, and I was impressed by the metal shop with a full sized lathe (a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding,drilling, etc. to create an object which has symmetry). This ship is full of surprises.

Marking all images with seawater and tags
Marking all images with seawater and tagsSOI/ Leslie Reed

Sharing my experiences

Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation to the crew of Falkor about the Artist-at-Sea project. This means that I am up late pulling video from TeZ and images of my work into a powerpoint to provide context about the work we are doing.

Tomorrow will also be exciting, as the the first batch of film will have soaked for 72 hours.  This means it will be time to hang it to dry and wrap it back up for processing once we are on land.  I wish I could process it right away, but I do not have the necessary chemicals on board.  I am looking forward to seeing the results, and besides, the surprise is part of the fun of working with film.  I find I am much more careful with each exposure when they cost $1 each.  It is also satisfying to work with a real physical object made up of a combination of colored dyes, gelatin, and silver which can be plunged into ocean water and altered at will.


Working in the library, I discovered Sea Change, the memoirs of Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and began reading it. So far she describes her remarkable experiences diving and discovering new species and being the only woman on a research vessel full of men.  Her tone has a kind of positivity that reminds me of a lecture I once attended by Jane Goodall.  She was asked if she had hope for the future of humanity after all the poaching and cruelty she had seen, and her answer was yes, because young people are taking action.  I feel inspired by people who are taking action to better understand our Ocean, and that is just what the team does here on the R/VFalkor.