PhotoFriday – ‘Dad’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Dad’

Here in the UK its fathers day on Sunday. While we’re all thinking about our dear old dads, spare a thought for the tiny fathers in the sea who actually give birth to their offspring such as this very pregnant pygmy seahorse above!

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Dad’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling my 60mm/D300 underwater macro set-up. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

PhotoFriday – ‘Little things’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Little things’

I’ve very recently did two large posts on underwater macro photography (see here for with a 60mm – the set-up still for sale and here for 105mm). I love to take photographs of little things – this weeks photofriday theme, so I thought I’d focus (no pun intended ;)) on newer photos. The photo above is of a tiny pygmy squid I saw on my recent trip to Raja Ampat. Another little creature is the now famous pygmy seahorse. If you are thinking of photographing these adorable little creatures be sure to check out the Pygmy Pledge – the code of conduct for photoing these little guys. They get stressed by the light of the flashguns incredibly easily and can die as a result so to limiting your shots (to four or five) means you spend a long time waiting at depth for them to turn their little heads towards you. It doesn’t aways result in you getting the shot as these photos show but you get to spend quality time observing them safe in the knowledge you arn’t harming or upsetting them.

There are a couple of different types, above is a photo of a bargibanti pygmy seahorse (the knobbly-looking chubby ones) and below a photo of a Denise pygmy seahorse (the slightly less knobbly and skinner ones). There are also other types but I didnt see those on that trip.

They are masters of camouflage – can you spot the one in the photo below? Sometimes on the dive its hard to see them even when they are pointed out to you.

You can see more Raja Ampat photos here.

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Little things’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling my 60mm/D300 underwater macro set-up. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

Focus On: Underwater Macro Photography Part 2 – 105mm

Following on from Mondays 60mm macro underwater post, today I’d like to showcase some of the photos I’ve taken with the 105mm macro + Nikon D300 and highlight some key differences.

Equipment:

  • Nikon D300 + Subal Housing for D300 (£2000)
  • 105mm VR macro lens + Subal 105 port with manual focus knob (£925)
  • 2 Inon z240 strobes (not for sale)

As Vincent so rightly points out in his comment on my previous post, the 105mm takes a bit of getting used to. Its a wonderful lens but as with all camera gear it has its pros & cons. Pretty much the only con of consequence for me personally is the weight. Its a much heavier lens. If you too are struggling with this I’d recommend the StiX floats buoyancy collar that they developed to combat this issue. It encircles the port and balances it all out a little. Don’t forget to cable tie it on though as you may see it float off when you tip the lens upwards! There are quite a few pros, the main one being the extra working distance you get. Both the 60mm and the 105 are 1:1 lenses but to have the critter the same size in the frame you can back right off with the 105 giving more room for lighting and more distance for shy critters. And of course you can more easily get that nice blurred background (bokeh) which can help to lift your subject from it’s surroundings especially on messy backgrounds.

Here are a few shots I took in Bali at the end of last year (click images for larger)…

This tiny shrimp was difficult to see so having a nice clean background was essential for the shot. It is nice to have the second part of the coral blurred out in the  background for some context though.

This little toby was very small and very shy, I would not have been able to take a good shot with a 60 without him just swimming off.

Another very shy critter:

Its good fun and games trying to get shots of garden eels, when you approach they disappear into the sand. This is another shot which would have been almost impossible with a 60mm’s reduced working distance.

You have to be careful where you focus when the DOF is so shallow, getting only the tail in focus would have ruined this shot:

Pygmy seahorses are notoriously shy and they hate the light of the flash & spotting torch (it can stress them so much that they would die so responsible underwater photographers take the pygmy pledge – to only take a maximum number of 3 or 4 shots per seafan).

Dreamy bokeh can give a different atmosphere to a photograph than a straight on ID shot.

The lens can ‘hunt’ for focus if the subject is not contrasty enough, this little guy was quite contrasty but so close to the seabed (which is the background in this topdown shot) that the camera would constantly back focus. The manual focus knob on the port is worth its weight in gold in these situations.

I took this little guy’s photo back in 2009 on a night dive, you can understand how small he is by considering that the huge boulders he’s sitting on are sand granules!

I hope you liked my stroll down memory lane with my 105mm VR macro set up for the Nikon D300. As I said at the top of the post I’m currently selling that set up. Buy for only £2875 (camera, lens, housing and port)! Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

PhotoFriday – ‘Springtime’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Springtime’

Huh, so as it turns out I rarely take photographs in springtime! It had to back to 2010 archives to find these. We often go on a trip around February time (still very much winter) and then its a few months until a summer trip. It doesn’t stop me wanting out with my camera but the photos tend not to be underwater so I turn to my macro lens for amusement.

Its also a time for fun experiments like this one where I tried to take a photo of myself in water droplets…

If you want to see my non spring time underwater photos from various places then check out the galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Springtime’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling the set up that took these photos. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

PhotoFriday – ‘Mornings’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Mornings’

I’ve got to admit, I’m not at my best first thing in the morning. For Landscape Photographers morning time is their bread & butter. Sunrise & dawn is often a time of most beautiful light. Sometimes if you are in an area near water a nice mist forms that has dispelled by the time most people are up and about (as in the photo above taken in Crystal River in Florida). And of course the obvious reason – the lack of people. Nature is allowed to wake up gracefully (apart from a photographer or two) before all the humans arrive with their boats and cars.

We got up very early in Crystal River to see how many manatees were hanging out in the springs (they sleep there over night for warmth in the winter). This blog post has reminded me that I still have many photos to go through from that trip so I can’t show you an early-morning-many-manatees-sleeping photo like I wanted too. Here’s a picture of a little baby one from later from about 8am though…

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Mornings’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling the set up that took these photos. The top image was taken using Nikon D300 and 18-200mm lens. The manatee image was taken with Nikon D300, Tokina 10-17 FE, Subal housing with Dome port. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at scubasuzy-sellingnikongear@yahoo.co.uk. Thanks for supporting my work!

Mantas! Raja Ampat

The last stop on our trip was Dampier Strait where a place called Blue Magic really lived up to its name.

You don’t often here complaints of too many fish on a diving trip but sometimes the little fish would obscure the action! There were thousands of them.

As I was starting to go up for my safety stop these two mantas were swimming around and around next to me at 7m. It was really magical.

I have some video, Mantas are much more impressive when you see them moving but I need to process it so stay tuned for more updates :)

Misool, first stop in Raja Ampat

The area of Raja Ampat boasts the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet. Our first stop as we headed out from Sorong was to the south, the area of Misool. Here we spent several days diving the following spectacular dive sites:

Kalig Wall, Nudi Rock, Boo East, Boo Windows, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Wayil Island, Yilliet Kecil, Magic Mountain, Boo West, Baby Rock.
Here we saw many amazing critters from Skeleton Shrimp and Pygmy Sea horses, to sea snakes, to sea fans that grow bigger than a person.

This tiny pygmy squid we saw on a night dive was particularly adorable!

Each morning and evening we were treated to beautiful skies. I tried to capture them with my iPhone in panorama mode:

At the Boo Windows dive site there was a school of very friendly Batfish. I happened to have a macro lens on so I took this portrait

The camouflage of the critters is amazing sometimes, see if you can spot the pygmy seahorse in the photo below:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. There will be more to come from Raja Ampat in the following days…