Aug 112015

Light beams in Fossil Cave

About the site

Fossil Cave is a small cave-rated dive in Mt Gambier. It’s close to Tank Cave, close enough that there’s ongoing speculation that one day divers might be able to swim from one to the other. It’s a shallow affair but does display the crystal clear water that makes you think you’re diving through air. The cave was named after the fossil remains which were extracted for study back in the 80s.

Darkness in Fossil Cave

About the dive

There’s less light in winter but the lower angle of the sun means it comes in at a better angle for cave entrances like Fossil and Pines. On the day we had high winds and scudding clouds so the sun beams were a hit and miss affair. We started the dive at the back of the main room, lined up against the wall and practising the lighting.

About the shot

The second shot you see here was taken with no on camera light at all. As per the exercise in Weebubbie more than a year again which resulted in this shot, these are a little tricky. We started by lining things up, then turning off our dive lights. Fossils had just enough ambient light coming in from the entrance to make this a bit easier than my experience in Weebubbie. Lucas lined up a small LED torch against the triggerfish sensor for the strobe. I turned one on camera strobe onto the lowest setting and twisted it to point back behind me. Then with the lights out and the camera on bulb mode I hit the shutter.

When he saw the flash Lucas clicked the torch on to trigger the off camera strobe. And when I saw his flash, I let go of the shutter. The eventual shutter speed was around one second – the reason why this only works in the dark! I bumped the f stop higher and got closer to ensure the very dim daylight wasn’t being recorded. I love this effect of a pool of light around a diver in darkness. It’s much more closely related to what I see when I cave dive with buddies. The angle of the off camera light bouncing back towards the camera makes for interesting shadows.

With the photo under our belt we headed around the wall to see the sunlight just starting to peek through the clouds. It came and went but luckily was beaming through the water by the time we were back in the main entrance. By this point I was back to regular on camera strobe firing with a low shutter speed to catch the ambient light, and captured the top shot here as Lucas came over the top. It was mid winter in Gambier with associated freezing rain and gale force winds. From the underwater sunlight, you could almost imagine something more pleasant.

Aug 022015

I’m excited to announce I’ll be up on the NSW Central Coast in four weeks time, giving a talk and enjoying a couple of dives on the ex-HMAS Adelaide. Ian from Dive Imports has very kindly offered to host me for August 28th and 29th. I’ll be giving a talk on cave diving around Australia at the shop on Friday night the 28th, jumping in for a couple of dives on Saturday, and back at the shop to talk photography on Saturday arvo. If you’re in the area, come along! The Friday night presentation should have a few nice images in it, showcasing the different diveable caves around our country. It’ll kick off at about 6.30pm on August 28th and the [read more…]

 Posted by at 9:27 am
Jul 292015
An underwater forest in Ela Elap

About the site Ela Elap is a Mt Gambier sinkhole, close to Little Blue and One Tree. It’s known for being deeper, darker and at least a couple of degrees colder than the other two sites. The bottom gets down past 40m and rather than the 13-15 degrees of the other sites my computer was reading 10. Ela has been closed for a few years. The last time I dived it is a distant memory (possibly due to cold narcosis on those dives) and I was keen to get back for another look. About the dive We arrived in driving winds and surprised a few ducks off the surface of the water. While they struggled to take off in the [read more…]

Jul 152015
Kilsby's in Winter

About the site After a weekend of hauling hundreds of tanks through Elk River cave, it’s nice to post these shots of Kilsby’s Sinkhole from the weekend before. Floating through huge spaces, effortless, clean and serene…a bit different to grovelling around in mud with heavy packs. I’ve been really happy with photos I’ve taken in mid-summer in Kilsby’s before. Through December and January big rays of sunshine pierce the water, illuminating the site. At this time of year Mt Gambier is freezing up top but roughly always the same temperature in the water. The lighting in the sinkholes is dramatically different however. About the dive On this particular day we had low, grey clouds with just a touch of drizzle. [read more…]

Jul 072015
Three rebreathers in Tank Cave

After a productive Saturday morning on the Mt Gambier main street buying tiles for my kitchen floor, and a pleasant Saturday afternoon dive in Kilsby’s, Sunday brought a relaxed two hour swim through Tank Cave. The site was open for Sunday only and the four of us were the only ones there. This made getting in the water a lot easier – no rushing to clip on bailout with someone standing awkwardly hunched in dive gear (or the reverse). With three models in the water at the same time this was the first opportunity to test out all of my strobes on a single dive in a while. A couple of my inon Z240s have been playing up with electronic [read more…]

Jun 302015
Bobtail squid in the night

About the site Rye Pier is a long, shallow shore dive. The pier is probably most noted for the annual invasion of the spider crabs which I photographed in 2012. They’re in the area at the moment and have been spotted at Blairgowrie Pier recently. They’re now on the move and will likely be seen at Rye over the coming days. While we were hoping to see the start of the crab invasion on Sunday, it was a fairly slim possibility. It was nice to see the pier life before it gets overrun by crustaceans. The rest of the year, Rye is known for orange sponges and lots of pot bellied sea horse. About the dive We intended a Sunday afternoon [read more…]