Reactive Reefs - An exhibition and scientific research project telling the story of how the world’s reefs change and adapt through the highest-resolution underwater mapping effort in history. 

Subscribe to the vedphoto list for project updates and news  

Synopsis - Reactive Reefs is an interdisciplinary coral reef imaging and mapping project that features award-winning advanced imaging techniques to provide three-dimensional centimeter-scale optical aerial maps and underwater giga-pixel panoramas of at-risk coral and stromatolite habitats. Using a technique I developed called Fluid Lensing, I am able to use perturbations and small waves in the ocean’s surface to image shallow subsurface marine targets with minimal artifacts and distortion from a quad-rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with enhanced angular resolution. Summer 2013, our team travelled with the Palumbi lab to Ofu island in American Samoa to generate maps of coral reefs of interest using Fluid Lensing from a small electric quad-copter equipped with our imagers. The effort will provide Stanford’s Palumbi and Pringle labs with valuable scientific data on coral health and distribution as well as one of the highest-resolution optical maps of a subsurface marine target to date. April 2014, I joined Dr. Pamela Reid's group from the University of Miami to map Stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia, home to Earth's oldest reefs and organisms, for another high-resolution underwater mapping effort. Data from both field expeditions are being processed and uploaded. Check back here and join the mailing list above for updates and access to archive.

Reactive Reefs QuadcopterIn flight mapping over American Samoa. Captured from a second UAV.

In addition, Reactive Reefs is a community-supported immersive photography exhibition that aims to transport the audience beneath the ocean’s surface to discover firsthand how the world’s coral reefs change as a result of both natural and human pressures. We use novel ways of mixing pictures and sound to tell the scientific story and highlight the inherent beauty of these ecosystems. The final exhibition work by a multidisciplinary student team at Stanford University was first on exhibit at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia November 2014. All exhibition funds are provided by people like you who support my artwork and science outreach mission. Final coral maps and data will be made available for free to the public. Thank you for your support!

Latest preliminary exhibition results (As of November 2014)

News & Press - 

Subscribe to the vedphoto list for project updates and news  

Latest blog video updates (April 2014)


Ved Chirayath - Student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and founder of Vedphoto.




Tamaki Bieri – Student in the Department of Biology at Stanford University. Studies cellular mechanisms of cnidarian bleaching using the small sea anemone Aiptasia as a model organism. Has four years of research experience in cell and molecular biology.






Trent Lukacyzk – Student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. Multi-disciplinary design optimization of Supersonic Aircraft, Computational fluid dynamics and high performance computing and Surrogate modeling of optimization problems using machine learning approaches.



Support & Collaborations

   This project is a highly interdisciplinary research and scientific outreach effort between the following organizations, laboratories, research groups and advisors:

  • Stanford University Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics Aerospace Design Lab (Professor Juan Alonso)
  • Stanford University Marine Biology Labs - Pringle and Palumbi Lab (Professor John Pringle & Professor Stephen Palumbi)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (Jennifer Anstey & Raymond Direen)
  • NASA Ames Research Center Mission Design Center and Earth Science Division
  • National Park of American Samoa Staff and Rangers (Carlo Caruso)
  • GGfilms (Dan Griffin)

Without the support, mentorship and efforts of these folks this project would not have been possible. Additional support for this project was provided by people like you who support my artwork. Thank you!


Note - Opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of NASA, Stanford University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute or the Hopkins Marine Center.