Diving 27 meters underwater, the light turns a deep, hazy blue. Emerging from the darkness, three ballerinas in white tutus stretch their legs on the deck of a sunken military ship.
“Divers must have been checking their oxygen levels to make sure they weren’t seeing things,” said Jed Dodd,
It’s not a ghostly apparition but one of a series of haunting photographs displayed in the only underwater gallery of its kind in the world.
Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke is exhibiting digitally composited images on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg that was scuttled in May 2009. The 4- by 5-foot photographs stretch along some 200 linear feet on the starboard side of the Vandenberg’s weather deck, 93 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
“When we brought the photographs to the surface we found all this growth on them — it’s a third dimension on top,” Franke said.
Andreas Franke, who worked as an advertising photographer for more than 20 years, took the powerful images while on a diving exhibition last year.
Franke photographed the wreck last year. He digitally added other elements to the images to create the artwork.
One picture depicts a girl wielding a butterfly net to capture fish shown in an original underwater image of the wreck. In another, kick boxers compete adjacent to one of Vandenberg’s iconic tracking dishes.
The 20-square-foot images are encased in plexiglass and mounted in stainless steel frames sealed with silicone.
They may appear pristine now, but if the Vandenberg is anything to go by, the lavish ladies of the Stavronikita may not be so picture perfect when they finally come up for air.