Aug 202014

Manta ray in Komodo

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.Purple algae shrimp


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 share.



First up though, rather than the teachable moments, here are my favourite shots from the cruise. I split my dives fairly equally between my wide angle 14mm lens and my macro 100mm lens. My favourite shot from the wide angle is the manta you see above, because….well, manta.


For the small stuff, the second picture here is really small. This little purple hairy beast is an algae shrimp. He is about 2mm from end to end and like to jump around at night.  The camouflage is spectacularly good and Ronald miraculously spotted several squadrons of these guys over consecutive night dives. This one was co-operative enough to pose side on in the best position to see through his body shape through the strands.


Back to wide angle, and this co-operative cuttlefish is from the same dive as the manta ray. As we zoomed to the end of the current he was hanging out in a little patch of coral. He was quite happy to ignore the camera an inch from his face and I got a series of shots that really shows off the shape and colours of his skin. I especially like the blue water behind in contract with his red/white patterns.

Arenui tender boat

The half and half shot is our diving group waiting to get back on the tender after a stunning blue water dive over a big wall. The seas are flat, the sun is shining, and breakfast is on the table back at the Arenui. The two dives we did here were really beautiful. Big fans and little fish swarming everywhere in very blue water. On the left is the fabulous Ronald, dive guide and algae-shrimp-spotter extraordinaire.


The pygmy seahorse is an uncropped photo taken with my 100mm lens. This guys didn’t seem bothered by my red light on a night dive and was happy to pose. This was the third shot I took. I remember my first few dives with the 100mm lens where I could have spent the whole dive with the pygmy and not got a shot I was happy with. In contrast, now I definitely feel that I have the lens under control. Must be about time to go shopping for the next one…


Pygmy seahorse in Komodo

As well as feeling like the 100mm is behaving itself for me, I also had time for some fun with strobes. This soft coral goby is nearly translucent and lives on the pink soft corals. Using a long strobe arm I moved the strobe around to be pointing directly back at the lens. The glowing light effect filtered through the coral and the fish himself brings out the little details. I love the feeling of peeping into this little fish’s world for a moment.


Over the next few weeks I will be adding photos from this trip with some thoughts on the photographic techniques as well as the wonder of diving Komodo. If you’d like to follow along, you can subscribe to the weekly emails by entering your email address in the box on the top right of the page, and then clicking on the confirmation email that arrives. If the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, please check your spam folder! Once the posts are up, you will also be able to see them by clicking on this link.

Soft coral goby


To finish, I will leave you with a quick 5 minute video of some of the highlights. I was a little photo-focussed on this trip so video was a secondary consideration. However I was keen to show the motion and craziness of the Komodo currents and the big trevally hunting up in the blue. I spent a couple of quiet morning hours editing together the best of the bits and here you have it – enjoy.

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...]

Jul 152014
Swimthroughs in Bicheno

About the site I was down in Bicheno for some reef diving at the start of June as part of the Combined Clubs Weekend. I posted before about the gorgeous orange and yellow sponges and prolific seawhips on the granite boulders down there. The water was blue for the six dives I did, but I gathered from the locals that recent storms had stirred things up. Certainly the weather wasn’t great while we were there and these photos were taken in fairly surgey conditions. This was our last dive of the trip and we were up shallower than the morning dive. Add that to these very cool boulders leaning in [read more...]