Aug 262014

Leaf fish in Alor

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 very small area. As it turned out he was right under my nose with camouflage working well.

Blue/yellow ribbon eel

About the photo

The leaf fish aren’t quite in the same master camo list as frogfish and they can be found. ¬†Their strange shape makes them difficult to photograph though, especially when they decide to sit in the middle of a patch of messy coral and sponges. Isolating their silhouette from the background can be a challenge. So once I had a few shots in the bag that were definitely a leaf fish I decided to experiment a little bit. The nice thing about camouflaged animals is that they’re disinclined to move as they believe they can’t be seen. This gave me time to gently manoeuvre my strobe arm around. With the strobe behind the fish I pointed it directly back at the camera. The narrow flat body of the leaf fish is translucent enough for almost all of the in the picture to be coming through the subject. I also used my second strobe on its lowest setting to provide a touch of foreground fill light.

I especially like this shot for the way it isolates his profile and helps the eye really stand out. Regardless of the weird shapes and textures, it’s immediately easy to tell that you’re looking at a face in profile.

The same lighting principle applied for this very pretty ribbon eel. With another subject prepared to stay in one spot – if I moved in slowly – I had time to get creative with lighting. While he’s not as translucent as the leaf fish, getting the stronger strobe power behind him has given him a new look. I needed just a touch of fill light in front to bring out the eyeball without overpowering the backlighting. The lighting angle has reduced light falling on the uninspiring background and helped isolate the subject from his surroundings.

The next time you’re out with your macro lens and static subjects, especially if you’re swimming around with ridiculously long strobe arms on because you haven’t changed them from your wide angle set up, consider a touch of backlighting. You never know what might work out well.

For my other photos from the Alor to Komodo trip on the Arenui with Liquid Diving Adventures, see the reports here.

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...]

Jul 222014
Downstream Imperial in Jenolan Caves

About the site Today’s photos are from the Downstream Imperial section of Jenolan. Jenolan Caves up in NSW see nearly a quarter of a million visitors each year. The show caves and pathway system are extensive and tours run frequently. From a diving perspective, this means timing our entrance so as not to interfere. For Downstream Imperial we moved off the beaten track and down to the water through an area known as the Woolshed. About the dive Unlike our through trip on Saturday, this Sunday dive doesn’t allow us out the other end. And instead of swimming upstream against the flow, we were swimming downstream. There are two main [read more...]