National Geographic Daily News


Behind the Cover:
June 2013
Deep Cover
By Margaret G. Zackowitz
Cover photo by Marco Grob

Putting Academy Award winner James Cameron underwater on our cover this month called for a little Hollywood magic. “We have to show science is exciting,” he says.

The National Geographic explorer-in-residence really was submerged—but inside a giant water tank at a soundstage he uses in Manhattan Beach, California (two 40-foot models of the Titanic, both seaworthy and wrecked versions, sat nearby).

Related video: James Cameron on taking risks.

Sand, plants, and bubbles were added to the image to create the illusion of Cameron on the seafloor, a place well-known to the director of Titanic and The Abyss.

Photographer Marco Grob (below, with camera) had just two hours to make the portrait before his subject had to leave to catch a flight for Australia. So Cameron, whose solo dive into the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, is featured in this issue, donned a wet suit and went to work. He was a pro at holding his breath: “I was sometimes concerned,” admits Grob. “I’d knock on the window and say, ‘Hey, come up.’”

(Read about Cameron's voyage to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in National Geographic magazine)

Photo by Bill Marr, NGM Staff

The June 2013 US Edition cover of National Geographic magazine featuring James Cameron.

Published May 23, 2013

patrick shyu
patrick shyu

I dislike all the photoshop.  You can see the position of the lights were all changed in the background. Furthermore, the underwater tank was a stupid idea since it doesn't look like James was underwater - he might as well have been dry.  You can see they had to add bubbles to make it look like that.  The fakeness & over-produced cover goes against everything NatGeo represents.

Aleksandar Jaredic
Aleksandar Jaredic

The light on James is not too perfect but cool shot nevertheless.

Matthew Sutton
Matthew Sutton

as a representation of the only man to literally get to rock bottom, its composed really well, green screen effects or not, it just shows the merging of movie technology applied to deep sea science and vice versa.

Mark Robak
Mark Robak

End product looked cool, but wasn't that hi-tech putting together?

James Jones
James Jones

I'm surprised to see a digitally enhanced cover.

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly

@Mark Robak  You're right. It's not like Nat Geo to put this fakey and unnecessary photo. Why not use a regular picture of him? 

Jerry Garns
Jerry Garns

@James Jones I have no problem with a digitally enhanced shot on the cover as long as the fact that it was manipulated is not hidden. National Geographic seems to have been very upfront about their method, so why not?


How to Feed Our Growing Planet

  • Feed the World

    Feed the World

    National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

The Innovators Project

See more innovators »

Latest News Video

  • Mazes: Key to Brain Development?

    Mazes: Key to Brain Development?

    Mazes are a powerful tool for neuroscientists trying to figure out the brain and help us learn to grapple with the unexpected.

See more videos »

See Us on Google Glass

Shop Our Space Collection

  • Be the First to Own <i>Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</i>

    Be the First to Own Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

    The updated companion book to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, featuring a new forward by Neil deGrasse Tyson is now available. Proceeds support our mission programs, which protect species, habitats, and cultures.

Shop Now »