About the site
The J4 sub is the most-often dived of the J class subs that were scuttled out of Port Phillip Bay. Built late in WWI in response to rumours that the Germans were developing something better, they were sold to Australia by Great Britain after the war ended. Despite an expensive refit process here in Australia, by the 1930s there was no use for them and they were scuttled.
The J4 was rediscovered in the 1980s, and is also known as the 26m sub for the depth of water that it sits in. Shallower than the others and with correspondingly less narcosis, it’s an easier wreck to photograph.
About the dive
This dive was about five days after our truly excellent dive on Lonsdale Wall that I posted about here. The vis was still good but no longer great, with particulate floating through the water causing spots in my pictures. We were diving in the middle of the day though, and the blue skies and sunshine up top made for a lot of light on the wreck.
The bow of the J4 has separated from the main body of the submarine, providing a wide opening at one end. The stern of the sub narrows down so despite the open hatches in the ceiling along the length of the wreck, a surgey day can see divers accelerated from one end to the other if they try to swim inside.
On this occasion the surge was minimal and as we slipped inside I noticed last week’s excellent vis – the clear water was still hanging around inside the wreck. Combined with the clearish water outside and sunshine above, lots of light was coming in through the hatches. On previous dives here I’ve had to bump the ISO and the natural light entering the wreck still hasn’t been enough to illuminate the inside.
About the photo
The inside of the J4 is pretty much a hollow tube at this stage in its life. The big, wide opening is easy to swim through but lacks photographic interest. After fine tuning my settings to catch the sunlight (shutter speed all the way down to 1/30th of a second), I started to look for points of interest.
The bullseyes and hula fish were schooling in the dark zone between two hatches, and just in front of the wreckage you see on the ground. By getting down low and herding them front of me, I was able to line up some foreground interest and colour in contrast the blue light and rusty metal.
The second shot here was taken looking back towards the bow. I’m not as keen on the foreground wreckage or the fish (recalcitrant animals!), but I really like the three light sources in a row. It’s amazing the difference some clear water and daylight can make to a wreck – I’m looking forward to coming back here in great conditions, now I know what can be done.
For those who missed it, I’m selling 2013 calendars with some of my best cave diving shots for only $40. Check out the images here, and email me at email@example.com if you’d like one on your wall.