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'All I Can Eat!' by Jennifer Lu

by Editor Michel Romaggi in collaboration with the author Jennifer Lu 
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 5th of April 2023


'All I Can Eat'


This photo, "all I can eat", is so impressive and spectacular, Jennifer.  I suppose this kind of photography requires a special protocol.

This kind of photo must be taken during free diving, not with scuba diving. This is due to local regulations that are in place to protect marine animals. Our boat departed every morning at 7 am to searching aquatic life activities. Once the captain spots activity, he signals for us to get ready. We then quietly and gently slide into the ocean with our equipment, avoiding using flash and maintaining a safe distance from the animals, before taking our shots.


'Dive to Hunt'

In what circumstances and conditions did you manage to make this amazing capture?

For the past three years, I have embarked on striped marlin expeditions around Baja California. In November, these magnificent creatures appear in the area to hunt sardines or mackerel in bait balls, creating a spectacle that attracts divers from all over the world, including renowned TV producers like the BBC.
Despite the rough sea conditions that sometimes require us to spend days at sea before encountering anything, I was fortunate enough to capture a breathtaking shot on the second day of my trip. However, that day started with seasickness that forced me to sleep for over five hours on the tiny boat.
When our dive guide, Dana, spotted a nice-sized bait ball, she woke me up and asked if I wanted to try to get into the water. Despite feeling dehydrated, I did not want to miss the opportunity, so I drank some water and gathered my camera, went into the water, and shot non-stop for the next two hours. Multiple predators, including marlin, sea lions, tuna, and mahi-mahi, were trying to hunt down one bait ball, making everything happen very quickly. I was worried that my camera battery might not last, but I sensed I had captured some spectacular moments. I did not see the photos until later when I loaded them onto my computer. Despite feeling unwell, I was glad I pushed through and persevered to capture these incredible moments. 


'In & Out'

That kind of activity can sometimes be dangerous because the speed of marlin hunting is 60 miles an hour. The bait ball runs towards us when they are hunted because they want us to be their WALL to block their predators. We have to get away from them quickly, but many people have still been hurt by the sharp mouth of marlins. Actually, I myself was twice in danger on that trip. When several predators hunt a ball of bait, they do not fight, but sometimes hunt in turn. When a sea lion, looking at a ball of bait, gets ready to charge, you don’t want to be in their way.


What qualities do you need to succeed in this kind of photo?
Despite the challenges and risks involved, capturing such extraordinary moments requires a willingness to persevere through difficult conditions. I'm grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing my striped marlin expeditions in the future.
One paramount quality of a great photographer is passion. If you are passionate about capturing the perfect shot, you will be willing to endure discomfort and harsh conditions to get it. Your passion will also drive you to constantly improve your skills and techniques in order to capture the most vivid and spectacular moments. Another important quality is patience and knowledge about the subject you are shooting. You must respect and protect the subjects of your photography. You must also understand that you are dealing with mother nature, which means that sometimes you may have to spend days waiting for the perfect shot.  Lastly, when it comes to editing, simplicity is key to me. Sometimes a simple black-and-white conversion can add a dramatic effect and create a "dark hunt" scene. Passion, patience, and respect for the subjects are the key qualities of a great photographer. I shoot wildlife mostly to tell stories and evoke emotion.


'No where to run!'


What equipment and settings do you use?

I use a Nikon D850, with a 8-15mm lens at 15mm.


What motivates your choice of these very vivid nature pictures?

My passion for photography is what drives me to capture these incredible moments in the wild. It's a personal choice to live my life this way, and I am grateful for the freedom to pursue my passion. I am constantly striving to capture moments that tell the true story of how animals behave in their natural habitats. Some of these moments may be considered brutal and difficult to watch, but that is the reality of nature. I am emotionally invested in many of these moments and often find myself tearing up as I review my photos. For me, it's not just about capturing a stunning image, but about telling a story and evoking emotions that make people see the beauty and power of nature in another world below the surface.


'Face to Face ...'


I love your work Jennifer, such a unique combination of skills, keep them coming but please stay safe!
Yes Yes Dear Kimberly , I will be careful underwater . Thank you so.... much ! love your bird images .
Absolutely incredible
Thanks a lot Emel .
禹远 PRO
Thank you for your efforts, which have brought us such wonderful works
Thank you so much ,glad you like it .
These storytelling photographic masterpieces show the photographer's deep connection to the sea again and again in a very impressive way!
Thank you so much from bottom my heart , Much appreciated your kind words. you are right , I won't have this motivation to keeping going without those deep connections. Thanks again !
Admire your dedication, appreciate the stunning imagines. Thank you for bring these nature beauties.
Thank you Bing , I am so glad you like it.
Impressing and truly Butifiul work Jennifer
Thank you so much Ketil.
Absolutely incredible underwater wildlife images 👏👌😍
Thank you so much Ivan .
Proud of you!
Thanks a lot John .
Great images and scenes, the timing and composure are spot on, very enjoyable to view.
Thanks Chris, It's A "war" in ocean when this happened . Sometimes I was so shocked and forgot what to do ! All action is too... fast , One time I got hit by hundreds of tuna(big ones hit like rocks) and calling " help".... beyond the photography ,It's just unforgettable experience of life time .
A very unique and outstanding series of captures. Congratulations!
Thank you Michael, much appreciated your attention
Outstanding pictures and great passion! Also thank you for sharing your wonderful story about the challenges, techniques and patience to capture these moments. Very inspiring and Congratulations!!!
Thank you so much Jian, I love underwater world !
Absolutely stunning images, congratulations dear Jennifer, hats off for your passion in such difficult environment.
Thanks a lot Anita, Glad you enjoy my world . Lots of fun underwater!
Outstanding work, very well documented !
Thank you so much Gianni.
The nice interview really brings me a different world full of dangers and beauties. I am really respecting Jennifer's words: "Passion, patience, and respect for the subjects are the key qualities of a great photographer. I shoot wildlife mostly to tell stories and evoke emotion". Whenever I see her underwater works, I always imagine how brave she is to show us a very different world with her adventures...Thanks for Michel and Yvette to make it happen!
Thank you so....much Wanghan, It does take some "guts" sometimes to get what I want but that's the main fun part . "No Pain No gain" is what I believe. Thanks again , much appreciated your support .
Great captures!
Thanks a lot , appreciated your attention.
Great underwater images !! .
Thanks Izak
I fully agree with Ludmila, dear Jennifer. Hats off ... Cheers, Yvette
Thanks a lot Dear Yvette and cheers ....
Fantastic photography based on extraordinary experience, great talent and passion! I am overwhelmed by the beauty and intensity of these scenes!
Thank you soooooo... Much Ludmila .