Misool, Raja Ampat

Following on from the previous post at Daram, We spent quite a bit of time diving around the Misool area so I might end up splitting this area into two posts. Its great for both Macro and wide angle so you couldn’t go in with the wrong lens.
We went to Yillet Kecil, Magic Mountain, Boo Windows, Boo East & West, Tank, Whale & Nudi Rock and lets not forget Wedding Cake.

Everyone loves to take photos of the famous Boo Windows but the macro there is amazing, I watch some squids laying eggs and found a couple of Misool Pygmy seahorses.

These little red & white pygmy seahorses are only found around the Misool area.

Nudi rock, so called because it looks like a Nudibranch:

for more images of the divesites at Misool see the full Raja Gallery here. I hope you enjoyed those and will tune in tomorrow for the next stop on our tour.

Daram, Raja Ampat


I think the best way to show you the different beautiful areas of our Raja Ampat trip is to split it up somewhat based on my little route map, first stop Daram. Here we visited Andiamo and The Candy Store divesites. Please click on the images to see them larger on phase.

The image above shows the silversides racing back and forth just under the surface of the water (chased by the jacks pictured here).

We dropped down on our first dive (on the Candy Store) and I found this little chap sitting in a fan at about 18m. For those who don’t know, He’s a Bargibant pygmy seahorse (this one was about 2cm tall).

The image below is of a scorpion fish blending himself in with the reef.

This area has some of the biggest sea fans I’ve ever scene, much bigger than a person (and impossible for me to light), here are two biggish ones.. these are at the limit of the lighting I have with the tiny strobe arms on my camera.

for more images of the divesites at Daram see the full Raja Gallery here. I hope you enjoyed those and will tune in tomorrow for the next stop on our tour.

Back from Raja Ampat

Since the end of Jan we’ve been floating around the sea in an area called Raja Ampat. After last years trip, We did two Alex Mustard workshops back to back in this amazing area. See the route for trip 1 in red and trip 2 in green on this route map below:

route map

I’ve put this as best I can into a google maps so you can click the points to see the list of divesites we visited:

As you can see from my photos from last year this area is very diverse for photography and I have lots of images to go through & post in the next couple of days (and I need to upgrade my LR catelog to work with the new Olympus OMD EM1 files – review to follow shortly too). We had a great time, met some nice new people, saw many critters, pygmy seahorses, toadfish, pipefish etc etc. We also celebrated Alex & Mikes birthdays, and crossed the equator underwater (not many people can claim that)! So stay tuned to the blog!

PhotoFriday – ‘Beasts’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Beasts’

Sorry for the lack if posts recently, I’ve been snowed under busy. I just had to post for this theme though because my website name is reefbeasties.com!Here is a couple of the more beastly looking reef beasts…

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery or last years post Best Photos 2013.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Beasts’ here.

Best Photos 2013

As in previous years it is time to review and select my best/favourite photos of 2013. I always really enjoy looking back over all the posts and pictures I’ve made throughout the year and reflecting upon how fortunate I am to go to such great places and have such supportive people in my life. I found it gratifyingly difficult to choose my top ten this year but I can see a few areas where I’d like to improve upon next year (like getting some decent shots of Mantas). With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this years top ten (click each for larger version on pbase):

Top Ten Underwater:

This year, for me, has been the year for schools of fish and photos with movement in them…

Sweepers: This cave in the Red Sea was the first time I truly realised how versatile my new camera set up is. I saw the cave, and thought this could do with some backlighting. Popped off my strobe right there and then and took the shot I wanted. After many years of electronic sync cords, the fibre optic can-get-wet kind are incredibly freeing for my photography.

Under the Jetty: These little schooling fish under Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia were like, as cheesy as it sounds, poetry in motion. Constantly tumbling and swirling into new shapes, beautiful to watch.

Wonderpus: Also from Raja Ampat, at a divesite called the Algae Patch, this cheeky little wonderpus.

Reef top: Another wide angle shot, this time of a reef top in the red sea. Near sunset to low sun hits the water at a good angle for shallow water photos such as this one. Most of the colourful reef fish which inhabit the reef during the day have already gone to bed so I was lucky to get this stream of fish swimming past in the background.

Grumpy Snappers: Its tricky to get a head on shot of the schooling snapper because if you swim at them they disperse (and all your fellow dive buddies groan in frustration as you mess up their shots). They look so adorably grumpy though so I took advantage went I found myself alone with them.

Worried Dad: Human fathers don’t know how lucky they have it. In the sea it’s often the males that give birth, or in the case of this Jaw fish, brood the eggs in his mouth. He occasionally spits them and jiggles them around until they are aerated. Fascinating to watch but don’t get too close or he disappears into his hole.

Underwater Train: Something you don’t usually see underwater – a train. This was blown off the wreckage of the Thistlegorm. This famous world war two ship wreck in the Red Sea has so much cool stuff inside the main wreck (motorbikes, trucks, guns etc) and often strong currents around the exterior that I’d never actually seen the second train which is around 10-15m swim away. On this dive the sea was calm and blessedly free of other divers so we not only got to the train but all the way to the front of the wreck to see the guns. See some of my other photos in this blog post.

Schooling Snappers: I’ve tried to see the impressive schooling fish aggregations at Ras Mohammad on quite a few years and this year I actually got quite a few shots I was please with. I think not having to psh so much weight through the water with my smaller camera allowed me some extra swimming power to keep up with them.

Tiny Cowrie: I found this beautiful cowrie in Indonesia at the beginning of the year while searching this sea fan for pygmy seahorses.

Swirling Barracuda: To round off my underwater choices here are some schooling barracuda from the Red Sea, which reminds me I still need to process the video from this trip, I think I might have some nice footage of these guys.

Favourite Other Photos from 2013:

This year I got married to Mike, I didnt take many photos but I did produce a video I was quite pleased with.

We went on honeymoon to Venice, I liked these two because they are a bit ‘postcardy’

Also, This year I’ve been finishing off the first module of my photography degree course. I’ve really enjoyed some of the lighting techniques such as this spotlighting of Danbo here:

I also enjoyed the trip to Kew Gardens to do one of my assignments on colour:

If you’ve made it this far through the post then well done and I hope you enjoyed :) If you want to see the other photos I enjoyed taking this year I put a whole bunch in a gallery on pbase here. Last years top photos post is here. Stay tuned next year for more underwater fun.

Photofriday – ‘Plant Kingdom’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Plant Kingdom’

So I was going to cheat again and try and palm you all off with a photo of this little guy (a Halimeda Crab) because he looks like a plant…

…but I thought that this week I’d actually try and stick to the theme, so its not underwater today. Here are some photos of flowers I took in Kew Gardens for my photography degree.

You can see the rest of the images here.

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Plant Kingdom’ here.

Thinking of buying lenses for Christmas? Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.

Photofriday – ‘Winter’s Reach’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Winter’s Reach’

Ok, I know this is slightly cheating for this theme. Playing on cultural stereotypes of winter as relating to Christmas, as relating to Christmas trees but as I try not to get caught by winter’s reach (brrrr) this little guy, the Christmas tree worm is the my choice of photo today.

Christmas tree worms, Spirobranchus giganteus, are usually found in coral reefs in tropical waters (so not wintery at all). If you go near them they suck back down into a hole in the coral. The colourful feathery looking plumes are actually for feeding & respiration and most of the worm is hidden away.

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Winter’s Reach’ here.

Thinking of buying lenses for Christmas? Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.

Photofriday – ‘Fiery’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Fiery’

This is a photo of Fire Coral. If you’ve every accidentally brushed past it with bare limbs you’ll know why its called fire coral, it burns really badly! Essentially it’s like an underwater version of a stinging nettle.

You can find lots of critters in and around the fire coral because they use it as protection or for a higher vantage point on the reef. The best place to see fire coral that I’ve found is the Red Sea where I took all these photos (over the years).

Here is some kind of crab on fire coral:

Hawkfish on fire coral:

Brittlestar on fire coral:

Tiny squat lobster on fire coral:

This is a pretty bad photo but this little clownfish made his home in the fire coral:

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Fiery’ here.

Thinking of buying lenses for Christmas? Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.

Photofriday – ‘In the Wild’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’In the wild’

This little boxfish above wouldn’t leave us alone.

Apart from one or two times in the pool to test out equipment all my underwater images are ‘in the wild’ so choosing an image for this weeks theme was harder than you might think – because I had too much choice! I was thinking about the interactions you could only really have in the wild, such as huge schools of fish, but I’ve posted a lot about them recently. So then I was thinking about all the wild animals that we tame by our behaviour such as the manatees in Florida springs who demand to have their tummies scratched, or the sting rays in Cayman who know there is food to be had if they hang out in the sandbar with the tourists. These interactions can be explained but what of the others, what of the interactions that occasionally happen when the critters seem as curious about us as we are about them. With no incentives, no food, no belly scratches? Is this when we are truly in the wild?

The mantas in Raja Ampat came over to me and circled while I was doing my safety stop at 5m. After all the other divers had gone, they wanted to play but sadly I too was out of time & air.

This friendly Napoleon Wrasse is probably on the hunt for food to be honest, I think the dive guides in this area used to feed them boiled eggs to watch them split out the shells, I’m not sure if its an old wives tale that one died of high cholesterol prompting the dive guides to stop or if it was new regulations brought in.

This little guy allowed me right up next to him while he was eating, he didnt run away as they usually do, he just sat there regarding me.

This terrifying looking beastie chased me across the sand, I could almost not back up fast enough. I didn’t hang around to work out what he would have done if he caught me!

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘In the wild’ here.

Thinking of buying lenses for Christmas? Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.

Photofriday – ‘High Tech’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’High Tech’

As a photographer the diving part of underwater photography often slips our minds, its just something we do in order to take photos in the ocean. At the end of October I went to the NEC in Birmingham for the annual dive show, I’m doing an assignment on photo essays of events for my degree so I took photos that I might not otherwise have focused on – to illustrate my trip to the show. This theme today has me reflecting on just how high tech all of our diving gear really is. We trust this gear to keep us alive at 30m under the water! Above shows dive computers that come in all different colours. They tell you all sorts of life saving info and we totally rely on them. Who here still does the tables anymore??

These, I assume, are compressors for getting the compressed air we breath into the bottle:

Stab jackets, BCDs, call them what you will they are essential for our modern diving experience in warm water. Recently the trend towards wings had been marked on our trips but I didnt see many on display at the show – not sure why.

People trying out rebreathers, I don’t expect to ever own on of these myself – until they are lighter and much less maintenance anyway.

Blast from the past – This is what they wore in the old days!

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the collection of galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery.

To see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘High Tech’ here.

Talking of high tech – Please check out my used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m trying to raise money on my previous gear.