Sep 022014

Pygmy seahorse in his fan

About the dives

The first half of our trip from Alor to Komodo was more focussed on muck diving, but it was on the last couple of days on the Arenui that I got some macro photos that I really love. There was less tiny life around and it was easier to focus on a subject photographically without getting excitedly distracted by the next tiny thing. I also had a few great photos achieved which helped with the confidence to try new things. In this instance it was photos of things I generally consider a bit too small to sensibly take photos of with my lens setup.

Purple hairy shrimp

About the photos

Both of these shots were taken at the maximum capability of my 100mm macro lens on a full frame camera. In both instances this means I was at absolute minimum focus distance to make the subject as large as possible in the frame. The second shot here, of the hairy shrimp, has been cropped but the pygmy seahorse is straight out of the camera. While the shot could be cropped in a bit, I like the way he is framed by the branches of the seafan, and the pattern of the feeding polyps.

The pygmy seahorse was taken on a night dive. By using the red light on my Archon video light I was able to achieve focus without blinding the little dude. I used one strobe and pointed it straight down on a fairly low setting. I was close enough that the light escaping sideways provided what I needed. I’m aware that photographers can over-strobe these tiny little creatures and I had determined before the dive that I was only going to take a very limited number of shots. The one above was the third one, and I got what I was looking for and left him to enjoy his evening in peace.

I love this shot in part because it showed me how far I’ve come with the 100mm lens. Even a year ago this shot would have taken me a hundred tries and most of the dive. Stressing out both myself and the subject in the process would have only made it harder to get something in focus. Being able to swim up, assess the opportunity, get the shot and leave in less than 3 minutes made me feel like I’ve finally conquered the 100m lens.

This feeling was backed up on the last night dive of the trip, the following evening. There had been both green and red hairy shrimp on the day dives and I had got a few shots of them that were recognisable but not great. Then Ronald found this little guy, who was both slightly larger than usual and clearly carrying a bunch of eggs. On the downside he was very active and seemed to enjoy jumping away just as I got him in the viewfinder. In this end he jumped on to the perfect background, my strobe was in the right position, and I shifted the camera to get the focus sharp at just the right moment. The end result was the second shot here, of one of the tiniest creatures I have recognised underwater.

These two shots can only mean one thing – it’s time to purchase a supermacro setup! A whole new world of tiny things (and frustration) awaits.

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Aug 262014
Backlighting leaf fish on the Arenui

About the trip For the first few days of the trip on the Arenui, we meandered along the lovely mucky shores of Alor. This meant lots of fantastic critters – mantis shrimp and little cuttlefish, ribbon eels and orangutan crabs, rhinopias, frogfish and pipefish. These critters come in fantastic shapes, sizes and colours but all manage to blend in exceptionally well with their environment. I was especially impressed with our dive guide Ronald when he managed to spot a small clown frogfish from over 15m away. I wandered away while others took photos and despite knowing exactly where he was, then came back and spent 5 fruitless minutes searching a [read more...]

Aug 202014
Komodo on the Arenui

I have just returned to the world of internet connectivity from an amazing trip through Alor and Komodo with the Arenui. Organised by the very helpful Greg from Liquid Diving Adventures, the trip took us through amazing reefs and some very productive muck diving.   Along the way I had the opportunity for a daily presentation on photography. From the simple fun of correct exposures to the slightly more complicated fun of creative techniques, each day I was out taking sample pictures to demonstrate the concepts. This gave me the opportunity to think about what I was doing in a new way, and I have a bunch of pictures to [read more...]

Aug 122014
Waterfalls in Elk River

I wrote about our June push dive in Elk River a few weeks back. The photo on the top of that post is one of my current favourites. It may not be artistic but it definitely captures the sentiment of the moment. The feeling of surfacing with an empty reel is not to be missed! Photos are easy to sort through and post relatively quickly after the event. Editing the video into sense and finding enough to tell a story takes a little longer. So above is the video from the same trip. Once I was sitting in a comfortable place and had a chance to look through what I’d [read more...]

Aug 052014
Cave exploration through mud

About the cave This week we are practising a little bit of tropical cave exploration, in some (very) warm water. These photos are hot off the press from yesterday’s dives and taken in the same area as last year’s expedition to these very beautiful formations. The scenery was a little different though – instead of white rocks and blue water, we had squelchy brown mud and blue water. This particular cave was one which I previously dived through a very short sump to discover an internal air chamber but then ran out of time to check the other side. The rockpile had clean white rocks from 2m above the water [read more...]

Jul 292014
Kilsby's Sinkhole in winter

About the site Kilsby’s Sinkhole is a great big body of crystal clear water in Mt Gambier. Andreas and I dived there a few weeks back after a very pleasant couple of dives in Piccaninnie Ponds. About the dive The main aim for the dive was to get some more rebreather practise in. When I’m not spending my time caving through piles and piles of mud I’m busy clocking up hours on my rEvo. I’m planning to do my MOD2 & MOD3 courses at the end of the year, and that means 50 hours required as a minimum. More than hours, I’m keen to get multiple dives in different conditions [read more...]