PhotoFriday – ‘Movement’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Movement’

A photograph is a static image, by definition a frozen moment in time. Short of switching to video how do we imply movement in our photographs? Well, there are several techniques including Implied Action, Panning and Effective use of slow shutter speeds. The latter two I’ve already done exercises for over on my OCA blog on subjects such as birds & skateboarders, see the links to the posts above. The method I like to use underwater is Implied Action, which means exactly what you’d imagine it to mean, you know what the subject is likely to be doing and the photograph is caught at such a moment as they are in the middle of doing it, the upward sweep of fish all swimming in one direction for example. Here I’ve gathered together some of my favour photos of fish doing what they do best.

I’ll end with one fish slowmo which I completely messed up, I actually should have switched my flash to rear (2nd) curtain sync for this so the blur is behind them:

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

Psst… 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 – ‘Glorious’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Glorious’

This weeks theme brings to mind the glorious sight of hundreds or schooling Snapper at Ras Mohammad in Egypt. There’s nothing quite like seeing so many large fish all at once.

To see others take a look at my Red Sea 2013 gallery.

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 ‘Glorious’ here.

Psst… 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.

Arborek Jetty, Raja Ampat

This might be one of the most photographed jetties in all of Raja Ampat but it is truly a great place to go and take all types of photos. And it changes year on year, here is the link from last year. There is usually some sort of school of fish swirling under the jetty, then there are the beautiful soft corals on many of the posts (I concentrated more on that last year than this), then there is the giant clams (and I do mean giant) and of course the lovely macro subjects. Also, I enjoyed snorkelling there to take some split shots (see below).

Candy crab on the soft coral on the jetty pillars:

In fact with an eagle eye’d dive guide you may even ‘see’ one of these:

Its a hairy shrimp, the damned thing is so small it looks like a tiny spec, not even big enough to look like a bit of fluff! I’m pretty good at spotting (I often even find my own pygmy seahorses) but I had trouble seeing these guys even when pointed out. I cracked out Alex’s subsee +10 (to put on my 60mm which is already equivalent to 120mm) and then cropped in!

The schooling fish:

Its interesting at night, lovely stars above (if the weather is with you):

And an interesting night dive below, here is a toadfish I found:

Other creatures come out at night two, we saw a walking shark and these little tiny skeleton shrimp:

We saw mating Nudis (i think this may have even been a threesome not that you can tell from the photo):

and Adorable frogfish:

Above & below tiny fish stream by:

To see more of the cool stuff we saw at this jetty & other photos from the trip head over to my Raja Ampat gallery. And to see an image Mike took when we went onto the island see his blogpost here, you can’t take the street photographer off the streets for long. I’ll continue my trip photos tomorrow with more from the Dampier Strait.

Pele, Raja Ampat

Following on from yesterdays post on Misool. We only visited two sites in Pele, Kaleidoscope & Toblerone. Most itineraries for Raja dont come out this way but Toblerone tunnel is kind of interesting too see again (we stopped by there in 2009). I took down my off camera strobe to see what I could make of the sea fans on the tunnel floor (see above).

Its a pity the weather wasn’t better when we were here because it was a bit murky for wide angle on Kaleidoscope but it was like fish soup! Amazingly fun dive site just to go and watch them all swirling around and around

It was also interesting to see how big these sponges had grown in that time… here they are from 2009:

There is a little air pocket in the top of the tunnel, here’s Alex come up for a breather

For more images from this trip 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.

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.

Red Sea 2013 – Schooling fish at Ras Mohammad

Continuing on with the photos from my Red Sea 2013 trip today I’d like to show you the amazing schooling fish that you can often see at Shark & Yolanda Reef in the Ras Mohammad National Park. I wanted to put some video in too but my mac ran out of space so we’ll leave that for another day. This is my favourite dive site in the world but at this time of the year with all the schools its even more spectacular! You cannot take a wrong lens on this dive, macro, mid range or super wide. The reef is full of beautiful soft corals and colourful anthias, huge bump-head wrass, there is the cargo of the Yolanda wreck (toliets and baths etc), Moray eels, the list can go on. This post is just dedicated to the schools. I’ll post another to cover the other sealife (I didnt take any of the wreck this year because the fish action was so much fun).

The snappers don’t look so big in this photo above but check out this one below from Nadya Kulagina of me photographing the impressive school – notice the tiny camera in my hand ;) (I’ll edit this post next month so you can see a link to Nadya’s new blog when it’s up & running, she has some really lovely photos from this trip that are only on facebook at the moment).

Me and Snappers by Nadya

At one point I was fortunate enough to have a choice of what giant school is fish to photograph. The Barracuda were circling below the snapper and the batfish were on hand (just out of shot behind me) and I didn’t know where to turn, what a dilemma to have!

The Barracuda tend to school at a deeper depth so you have to watch your gauges as they circle up and down. Here The school of Barracuda (which I can only assume was female) were being chased and herded by one gnarly looking much bigger Barracuda (which I assume was the male). I was a bit wary of him because when he came close he had a very large set of teeth! I spent some time with them swirling all around me in the saddle between Shark & Yolanda reef.

I found I liked the photos of the Barracuda best in black & white, and the batfish & snappers mostly in colour. There are a few reasons for this. The Batfish are best shot with filter (not flash because they are very reflective and they have lovely yellow fins) which lends itself for nicer colours throughout the image (see the first photo in the post). The Snappers can work nicely with flash or filter and I liked photos from both. The barracuda are lovely graphical arrow shaped fish that sometimes school in circles. They tend to be deeper making them less suitable for filters and they are highly reflective but with no colour other than silver so that they themselves to black & white quite well.

for more shots you can see my gallery here, although I haven’t finished adding to it yet. Tomorrow is photofriday so I shall resume posting about the red sea trip next week!

Just Back from Red Sea

Mike & I are just back back from a two week Alex Mustard workshop in the Red Sea, Egypt aboard M/Y Whirlwind. No matter how many times I go to the northern red sea I still love it! We saw wrecks, we saw reefs, we saw massive schooling fish, it was excellent. I got to use my new camera :) and revisit some techniques (filters, off camera strobes, time-lapse etc). Over the next few days I’ll share my images and videos from the trip with you under the tag red sea 2013. Here is a sneak peak from what I have sorted out so far.

Schooling Jacks video

So here is my first underwater video (well the first one I got around to processing). I did take some footage of the whalesharks in mexico but I’m get to go through that. This is from Bali and its just Jacks…. schooling Jackfish at Coral Garden. I hope you like it….

 

 

If you cant see the embedded version (or just want to see it bigger HD) the link to it on vimeo is here:

http://vimeo.com/55734500

I’ve called it just Jacks because I took some footage of other reef life and next up is to see if I can make a video from that too. Thanks for watching.

PhotoFriday – ‘Many’ (but not for long)

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Many’

Click image to go to see alternate sizes (looks better larger).

This weeks theme is “Many” which makes me think of schooling fish. It is truly awe inspiring to see a whole school of huge schooling fish especially when they swarm past you! One of the best places to see this natural spectacle is (or should I say was) Ras Mohammad National Park in Sinai, Egypt where every year in the summer all the fish get together in great schools for a mass sporning. You’ll have to be quick if you want to see it for youself though, you will not be able to see this for much longer. Foolish & irresponsible politicians in Sinai have once again allowed fishing in this amazing area. The fish will be wiped out in a small number of years, the tourist trade in that area will fall away and it will be all their own fault. Obviously anyone who has any moral or environmental sense is outraged.

EDIT: I’ve just found out that they overtuned this and fishing is now banned again in this area due to pressure from tourism companies and environmentalists! YAY – well done everyone.

As well as schools of snapper I’ve also seen schooling unicorn fish and batfish.

 

If you want to see more of my underwater photos from the Red sea, Egypt then check out other photos in my Red Sea 2009 Gallery and Red Sea 2010 Gallery..

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