Portrait of a Coral Reef

Super Resolution Image of a Coral Reef Wall in the Cayman Islands

Beginning with his “Portrait of a Coral Reef” project in 1999 (National Geographic, October 2001), Jim Hellemn has produced many extreme resolution images of coral reefs and underwater environments. To make this happen, Jim developed the equipment and techniques that allow him to photograph extremely wide underwater scenes in a series of close-up images and then reconstruct the scene in extreme resolution (think gigapixel) and full spectrum lighting that reveals the true color and natural beauty in way that is impossible to see with conventional photography alone.
“Great Wall West” photographed with ambient light with a wide angle lens
Composite images of “Great Wall West” 1700 MegaPixels July 1999
Lifesize freestanding exhibit designed by Premier Displays

“Great Wall West”, a life-size image of a vertical coral reef in the British West Indies. This image was the first “gigapixel” image ever produced, and in the year 2000, this was the largest digital image ever produced of a coral reef and the first “stitched” image we know of, well before the term existed. The seamless mosaic image was manually assembled together from high resolution drum scans of over 300 images photographed on professional transparency film at a distance of less than four feet from the reef. The 1770 MegaPixel image produced for these projects are available for licensing for use in architectural or custom art projects. Explore the image at high resolution online at the link below.

Camana Bay Observation Tower

Five Story High Cayman Coral Reef Wall Reproduced in Glass Tiles

In 2005, jim Hellemn was commissioned to create an extreme resolution image for the Camana Bay Observation Tower, a public attraction in Grand Cayman where visitors can “walk” up a typical Cayman coral reef. A composite image of a Cayman coral reef wall was created from high resolution photographic images to match the architecture of the new construction. Following completion of the high resolution underwater image, the image was rendered in over 3 million hand-cut Italian glass tiles installed on the inside wall of the 5 story tower.

25ft wide X 75ft high glass tile mosaic covers one entire wall of the tower
The high resolution image was deisgned to match the architecture of the tower at Camana Bay
Visitors can walk up one of the unique double-helix staricases and walk down the other
Limited edition fine art prints of the image produced for this project are avaiable in dramatic sizes up to 120 inches high, and high resolution image can be licensed for use in architectural or custom art projects. It can be used as high resolution imagery to decorate ocean themed environments.

The Return to Bloody Bay

Second “Great Wall West” Image Documents a Decade of Change

‍In 2010 Jim Hellemn’s “Return to Bloody Bay” project documented the Great Wall West site on Little Cayman again a decade later – this time with a team of marine scientists who are studying the changes on this Little Cayman reef and a film crew to document the project.

Sponsors: Intel, Little Cayman Beach Resort, SeaBotix, Ocean Technology Systems, Ikelite, Marine Camera Systems, Underwater Kinetics, Compass Light Productions and World Ocean Observatory.

“Great Wall West” photographed with ambient light with a wide angle lens
In 2012 the documentary “Exploring Bloody Bay Wall” was released in 2012 and won the non-broadcast category at the 2012 Blue film festival in San Francisco. The film made it’s debut in March 2012 at the Smithsonian and is currently traveling to theaters in museums and aquariums around the world in The World Ocean Observatory’s biodiversity series.
Composite image of “Great Wall West” 1770 MegaPixels July 2010

Great Wall West images displayed on 360 megapixel tiled monitor display at University of California San Diego

Kelp Forest Under Glass

Spectacular 13 ft high X 125 ft wide Kelp Forest image reproduced in glass windows at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. Produced specifically for this award-winning life-size installation, this image is truly a one-of-a-kind seascape – a life-size underwater image of a California Giant Kelp Forest.

Sponsors: Diving Unlimited international and Ikelite.

“Kelp Forest windows” 13 ft high X 126 ft wide Aquarium of the Pacific
“Kelp Forest windows” inside view Aquarium of the Pacific