Oct 032011

Swimming through the channels between Ponds

About the site

Ewen’s Ponds is part of the 8 Mile Creek in the Mt Gambier region, near the coast and the Victorian border. It consists of three relatively circular ponds, with the creek flowing between them through channels. Ewen’s doesn’t contain any kind of overhead environment or cave, and as such it can be dived without a cave diving certification.

The centre of the Ponds feature freshwater springs, with water bubbling up through the sand. The middle of the deepest pond gets to about 9m, and the brown algal growth across the bottom and the rocks creates the impression of a moonscape. Around the edge of each Pond there’s a selection of greenery, and the flowing channels are full of verdant underwater growth.

Most importantly, Ewen’s Ponds have the same crystal clear water found in the other sinkholes in the area, such as Piccaninnie Ponds and the Shaft. With green water weeds, shallow and calm conditions, and small schools of fish flitting across the bottom, it’s a very pleasant and relaxing dive.

About the dive

After some early morning clouds, the afternoon sky was clearing up nicely as we geared up beside the Ponds. As per the general dive plan for the site we hopped in at the first Pond via the pontoon, and after exploring each Pond would partially surface to snorkel down the creek to the next one.

I spent some time trying to get close enough to the small schools of freshwater fish for a photo, with different angles on the various plants. With the still surface, clear water and sunshine, Ewen’s also presented a great opportunity to experiment with Snell’s window and rays of light through the water. The closest I got to combining all of these things is the shot below, taken near the middle of the second Pond.

About the shotKA and a school of fish in the first Pond

The current in the channels between each Pond was deceptively strong when compared to the unrippled surface, and trying to fin backwards to slow down and frame my shots wasn’t working. This particular shot was taken as my buddy KA turned around to see where I was up to.

I like this shot for a few reasons, some of which I didn’t appreciate at the time. The waving weeds in the immediate foreground show the pace of the water and give the feeling of movement to the shot. On top of that, it’s always good to have a diver’s eyeballs in focus to connect the viewer to the picture, and the colours are vibrant in the sunshine.

However, my favourite part of this shot is the underside of the surface. We’d spent significant time on previous dives trying to photograph diver reflections in roof bubbles. With the bubbles I’d tried being small, affected by my exhaled bubbles of the moment and irritatingly hard to get to, I hadn’t had much artistic success. While the eddies on the surface of the creek here break up a perfect reflection, they do a good job of enclosing the shot, and conveying the feeling of swimming through a green tunnel of growth that I had while diving here.

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