Two hundred feet below my sneakers, a blur of marbled green rushes past. I'm perched in the open door of a helicopter skimming the Caribbean Sea off Belize. I've spent the past two weeks traveling the country by boat and Land Rover, photographing the world's third-longest reef. But stormy weather has haunted this assignment. I'm still missing what editors call "the hero shot," the two-page spread that captures all the beauty and mystery of the story in a single frame. Tomorrow I head home.
The pilot keys the headset. "The Blue Hole is up ahead. I'll put the sun behind you." And then he banks the helicopter. The horizon disappears, and ocean fills the doorway. The sun is so strong and the water so clear that the underwater crater glows like a sapphire. I lean into my safety harness and bring the Nikon to my eye. This is the picture I've come for.