Member profile - Erik Schlögl

Perhaps like many participants in the Australasian Fishes Project, Erik Schlögl found early inspiration through television. Today he is Professor and Director of the Quantitative Finance Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia and when not busy working on problems in the world of quantitative finance, he is an avid photographer. Erik's passion is underwater photography, but is also a keen photographer of the natural world in general, with a bit of travel photography thrown in.
As a child, he was great fan of the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau and the voyages of the Calypso. These programs, which ran from the 1960s to the 1980s introduced millions to the reality of the “Silent World” and even as a young boy of 7 to 8, the images became part of Erik’s childhood experience and were carried over to adult memories, as he admired and remained enthralled by the underwater images he saw so many years ago.
In 1994, Erik had one of those Eureka moments, when he suddenly realised, the adventures of Jacques Cousteau were not solely a manifestation of television, but were “actually things he could do”. With this insight he organised his next holiday, from his native Germany to the Maldives, where he took both open-water and advanced diving courses. Total immersion! Erik was quickly able to incorporate his passion for creating quality nature images with his new underwater skills and he recalls taking his first underwater camera, a Nikonos V, on his final training check out dive. Since then, he rarely enters the water without a camera.
A quick examination of his observations reveals how much the project has benefited from Erik's underwater photography. At the time of writing this journal entry, he had provided 1,426 fish observations. In his catalogue, one sees not only the wide variety of species he has captured (a total of 575), but also that many of the images are superb.
Visitors to the Australian Museum website would be familiar with his work, and his photographs have been published in numerous books, magazines and newspapers, including Australian Geographic. The highest accolade he's received so far was a "Highly Commended" in the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife category of the Natural History Museum/BBC Wildlife Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2002.
Erik goes diving (using either open-circuit SCUBA or a Poseidon Se7en rebreather) as often as he can and almost always with a camera. He is an expert at squeezing as much bottom time out of a tank of air as possible, with his personal best exceeding two hours. He says that such time spent underwater is required for fish photography, when it is best to move slowly, keep your eyes open, and always be ready to shoot - it's much more likely that a fish will swim in front of your lens than it is to get a good photo trying to chase down a fish under water.
Erik confesses that carrying a camera underwater changes the fundamental nature of diving. He suggests that divers would expect to see at least 20 different species of fishes and marine life per dive in Sydney waters and he greatly enjoys searching for numbers 21, or 22, 23 ,etc, which would be unique to the dive. For his underwater photography, Erik uses a Nikon D300 SLR in a Seacam housing, with two strobes. The 60mm Micro Nikkor lens works particularly well for most fish photography, though for bigger fishes the 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens is more suitable. For recording observations of fishes for the Australasian Fishes project, much less expensive systems than this will also do the job - the system described here is aimed at people looking for that magazine-quality shot.
Professor Schlögl strongly believes the greatest benefit he receives from the project is the immediate access to top marine taxonomy experts, who, shortly after his posts, will identify the fish for him, comment about its range and point out anything unusual about his finds. He greatly values this ability to quickly access such a wide range of supportive experts. It has motivated him to continue to record new species to expand his nature portfolio. His current plan is to use his rebreather to gain access to greater depths and a greater diversity of fish.
An encouraging aspect of speaking with Professor Schlögl is his firm belief that Australasian Fishes project is creating a useful and robust dataset for future research. His professional and academic skills tell him there is great potential value in building a large collection of fish related data. When used with the proper modelling software, he feels the project’s data can help us gain knowledge and insight of the circumstances of Australian marine life. He is very encouraged by the quality and consistency of the data the project is creating, the accuracy of its geolocation, the recording of observation dates and precise species identification. He believes this growing dataset will be extremely useful in future modelling of marine life in Australia, and knows it will one day fit very neatly in to a model of fish life in Australia.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted by markmcg markmcg, November 30, 2017 04:16

Comments

Good stuff Erik, sorry, Professor! ;-)

Posted by sascha_schulz over 4 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for the kind comments, @sascha_schulz and @henrick !

Posted by eschlogl over 4 years ago (Flag)

No question about it. @eschlogl is a world-class underwater photographer who has been very generous with the use of his images over the years. :)

Posted by markmcg over 4 years ago (Flag)

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