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.

Top 10 underwater photos

Following on from last weeks post where I took you down memory lane with my 10 years taking underwater photos, I have come up with my favourite 10 images that I’ve taken underwater (whittled down from my fav 85 here). I don’t think they are necessarily my best but I like them the most. So with out further ado – here they are in no particular order…

Please let me know what you think in the comments below…

10 years taking photos underwater

It’s been 10 years (last month) since I starting diving (and taking underwater photos). 10 YEARS! Wow, that flew by. And I still use the same fins I started with. I’ll ruminate on a top ten photos in the coming weeks but here I wanted to look back and reflect on my time and photos with you.

Camera History
I knew I wanted to take photos underwater from the get go, but I needed the buoyancy skills first (the reef has always come first). I started off with a little plastic disposable camera, my photos were bad. Really bad. Pictures of a flash of a fish tail as he swam out of frame. *Sigh*. I upgraded to a digital compact in 2004 and kept that until I flooded it and was persuaded to upgrade to DLR in end of 2007 (when I started this blog). This year I’ve upgraded to a Mirrorless camera and am the happiest I’ve ever been with a underwater rig.

Here is my stroll down memory lane. Thankfully the photos get better as we go along!

Memory lane:

This photo of a lionfish was taken in my first week underwater with my compact, in 2004, In Jordan, Red Sea:

Mike quickly realised that life with me would require some training, here he is in 2005 learning buoyancy control for his PADI open water.

My image quality started to pick up when I bought a strobe in 2006:

2007, my first taste of muck diving in Lembeh. Pregnant Pygmy Seahorses, flamboyant cuttle fish hatching, wonderpus, blue ring octopus, oh my! Also where I flooded my camera. Doh! Luckily I was able to borrow someone’s spare.

This is my first underwater SLR photo session – in the pool with Martin Edge and my Nikon D300.

And first photos in the open ocean with it in Cebu, Philippines

Also in 2008, we saw Masked puffer fish schooling in the red sea, so cute & en mass:

In 2009, I saw my first stargazer (Lembeh, where else)?

As part of the same trip, we got our first taste of Raja Ampat. What an amazing place! Unexpectedly (even though I had my first Manta experience), if you discount the mangroves, the highlight for me was the teeny tiny bobtail squid (another first).

Of course you can’t discount the mangroves. This was by far and away the most magical place I’ve ever visited underwater. I couldnt do it justice with my camera unfortunately.

We liked to try and get back to the red sea every year (in fact I think 2007 was the only year I missed since 2003). In 2009, we saw the schooling snappers and other fish for the first time.

In 2010, the water was eerily calm but we didnt seem much schooling action.

Also, in 2010 we went on our first Grand Cayman Alex Mustard workshop. Sharks, Rays, off camera lighting, it was a very interesting trip.

We went back in 2011 to see the newly sank Kittewake wreck (while it was still white):

We chased that one with a snorkel in the hot springs in florida with the Manatees – awesome creatures! I totally had manatee madness. I still wear the manatee yoga pants I bought in the diveshop :) This trip was a tester to see if I could get over my fear or snorkelling (the springs were only waist deep). See here for an adorable manatee video.

We went Cayman to Orlando via a quick stop to dive in Blue Heron Bridge – wow their critters get big! The biggest arrow crabs I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t quite fit him all in as he galloped towards me!

Our red sea trip in 2011 was down to the south, where we played in the caves and the wrecks and saw a lot of clownfish

After the successful manatee snorkelling I decided to go for broke and snorkel in the open ocean with the whalesharks last year. Boy am I glad I did! Here is a selfie I took

While we were over in Mexico we had our first experiences of diving in freshwater caves – the Cenotes were amazing. I’m not a caver so I didn’t go too far off the beaten track.

We squeezed in some macro fun in Bali last year too

Also, started off my video channel on vimeo with this one from my gopro
 

 

That brings us to this year, where we lost all our luggage on the way to Raja Ampat and I borrowed Alex’s Olympus for the trip. Hopefully next time it will arrive in time to use it.

And the red sea trip where we had amazing schooling action and lots of fun photographing the Thistlegorm wreck.

Thanks for taking a trip down through the years with me. I made so many amazing friends along the way! Perhaps some of you could do this too? A rundown of your diving adventures since learning to dive and post links into the comments below so we can all see them?

PhotoFriday – ‘Scenic Wonder’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Scenic Wonder’

I feel blessed each time I drop beneath the waves, it seems like there is always a scenic wonder waiting for me so picking just the one for this theme would be pretty hard, so I didnt! ;)

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

By the way, thank you for voting for me as noteworthy for photofriday: mobile phone photo. For those less familiar with the way photofriday works, each week you can vote for the previous weeks entries as noteworthy by the voting button at the top-middle of the photofriday page (I always put mine under the name scuba_suzy ;)). On the top-right of the page you can see the noteworthy results for the previous weeks voting and on the top-left you can enter your own links for this weeks photofriday theme. So go see all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Scenic Wonder’ here.

PS: I’m currently still 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!

What is your Scuba diving bucket list?

Inspired by a recent DiveMistress post I thought I’d see if I could quickly list out my bucket list. I feel incredibly lucky to have already crossed off many and I doubt I’ll get to all the rest of these in my lifetime but I think its important to have far-reaching goals.

  • Raja Ampat: again.
  • Red Sea: again.
  • South Africa: sardine run
  • Grand Cayman: when the coral is sporning.
  • Australia: I’d like to see the sea dragons in the south, Adelaide and Dive in Sydney Harbour to see all the different types of sea horses.
  • Bahamas: the swimming piggies
  • Hawaii: the Mantas feeding at night. Schooling Hammerheads.
  • Palau: Jellyfish lake.
  • Anywhere: I’d like to see seahorse giving birth. I’ve seen it in photos, it must be awe inspiring in real life.
  • Anywhere: Whales & dolphins underwater.
  • Wishful thinking but not practical for me: I’d love to see penguins in the water at the south pole but since I hate cold water I think I’ll just couch-surf these little guys!

What is on your Scuba diving bucket list? Add yours (or links to your posts) in the comments below :)

PhotoFriday – ‘Natural Light’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Natural Light’

Quite often I go underwater and turn off my strobes and just shoot with the natural light. The most spectacular and dramatic lighting comes in from shafts of sun shining in at the tops of caves or through the beams of jettys. The photo above was taken in a Mexican Cenote (a giant cavern filled with fresh water). So next time you find yourself in a dark place, try turning off the lights and see what natural light there is.

The best place to take natural light subjects underwater in the open ocean is as you can imagine right at the surface. The warm mexican sun makes the surface reflect this whaleshark and makes the tiny eggs (the food the whalesharks are there to gather) glint and sparkle in the sunshine

You can see more whaleshark and cenote 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 ‘Natural Light’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling the camera 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 – ‘Familiar Faces’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Familiar Faces’

Although its growing rapidly the warm water diving scene isn’t all that large and we often find ourselves meeting the same people on the trips we take (or even sometimes on the plane going on different trips)! So here is a post where you might recognise some faces. Above is Mike, also known as one half of the Lovebirds and photoshop Guru. Below is a photo of me, also known as the other half of the lovebirds.

This is Jarret, the originator of the term Lovebirds.

Here is Alex & Eleo, totally acting like lovebirds here :)

This is Kathryn:

This is Lena in her pre-big-camera days..

Here’s one of Kay (we were testing off camera lighting hence the spooky look)

Heres another couple of Mike because after all he is awesome (even if I am bias)! :)

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting some of my friends.

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 ‘Familiar Faces’ here.

Algae Patch, Raja Ampat

Following on from Thursday post about Misool, we continued our journey in Raja Ampat stopping off for a whole day on a muck dive site called the Algae patch. Here we saw many things hiding in the sand and algae. We even saw a baby woebegone shark.

We saw a different types of ghost pipefish – here is the ornate and the robust types. The robust have such great camouflage they look like strips of seaweed twisting in the current.

You’ll have to excuse this video. It’s an experiment with the video mode for the Olympus OMD EM5. I think I had it on all the wrong settings. The cyan colour cast was very horrible (so I desaturated it to black and white) and as you can see I had no stabilisation. However it is very short (only 40 seconds) and theres a surprise about 20 secs in.

feel free to watch the video on vimeo here.

Here are some of the stars of the show…

And last but not least a little crinoid crab clutching some eggs. We saw plenty of these in Bali a few months ago but none with Eggs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little recap of the Algae Patch. Stayed tuned for more from Raja Ampat coming up…

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…