Another Monochromatic Gelatinous Post

( So, I’m having trouble coming up with titles … )

This is the third entry (perhaps the last, for now) in a series of sea jelly photographs I’m exploring in black and white. I started looking at their forms for some drawings and found them interesting presented in monochrome.

All of the sea jellies pictured here are Ctenophores (comb jellies). Ctenophores are classified differently from ‘true’ jellies because of their combs – rows of hair-like cilia that are used for swimming and also catching/consuming food (The actual cilia are not really observable in these photographs).

The images above are studies of just one comb jelly – perhaps Mnemiopsis leidyias or Bolinopsis infundibulum (they are difficult to tell apart). When this jelly was not moving it became rather formless-looking and alien-like, especially under these particular lighting circumstances. With different lighting (and in colour!) you may be able to see that this jelly is bio-luminescent.


The second gallery of images  (with the exception of the last two) are a series of Pleurobrachia (Sea Gooseberries). You can see how they may have picked up the nickname of sea gooseberries.

The two tiny comb jellies at the end are Beroe Ctenophores. The beroe ctenophores have no tentacles and capture food through opening and closing their mouths.


[These photographs of Atlantic sea jellies were made in Cape Breton in the spring of 2012]

Moon-Jellies_UnderdrawingTo add a bit of colour – quick sketches of moon jellies on board (an ‘under-drawing’ before a layer of Mylar is applied).

ยฉ Karen McRae, 2013

56 thoughts on “Another Monochromatic Gelatinous Post

    1. Thank you, Elena. The Mylar isn’t actually added at this point – who knows how it will transform? I am having fun playing with this series in both drawing and photography, anyway!

    1. A biologist, no. I am an observer, I guess.
      These are things that interest me and I was looking through photographs I had taken for reference – for art making – I thought these might be worth posting. Mainly because I love the forms, but also because they are connected to the things I think about in my art.
      Perhaps I should write a little more about these things – I wonder if my blog is a bit like an haphazard ‘Dot to Dot’ …

      1. It looks finished to me, Karen. I took three courses in printmaking in the last two years and my teacher encouraged us to know when to stop, when not to jump off the cliff, so to speak. Some things are finished in their simplest form. Somehow we know when they are complete.

  1. wonderful! You are learning in so many different ways. They could all be drawings . I am curious how you will develop the drawings. I’m not sure if the last on completely your drawing? Keep going ๐Ÿ™‚ Your work is getting more delicate and my paintings are getting more solid I’d guess one could say.

    1. Hi Carla, I’ve been mounting Mylar over the drawings and doing new drawings on top, and adding some thin layers of paint too. The under-drawings become ghost drawings. Thanks for your comments.

      1. I took them with my regular camera (digital SLR) and a 60 mm macro lens.
        The jellies are really small; I just scooped them up in a white bucket and took many, many photographs. The white background acts as back-lighting since the jellies are mostly see-through.

        I usually use manual focus and adjust the ISO and other settings for the lighting conditions. I underexposed just a little so I wouldn’t blow out any highlights.
        There isn’t really any special equipment used – anyone could take this sort of image with a macro lens.

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