Happy world Octopus Day!

Today is world octopus day! I love these guys, especially when they change colours & textures to match the reef (see video below).

Octopuses are worthy of appreciation for a number of reasons. First of all, they are one of earth’s great survivors. Indeed, despite their relatively short life span, octopus fossils date back more than 300 million years, meaning that they pre-date even dinosaurs. They are also highly intelligent, with around 500 million neurons located in their brains and arms, allowing them to bypass their insticts, learn lessons and solve problems.

In addition, they are visually stunning, coming in various different colours and shapes, while the Giant Pacific Octopus is able to grow to weigh more than 600 pounds!

source: daysoftheyear.com

I meet the one above on the barge wreck in the Red Sea, part of a mating pair (at least I assume mating and not flighting). Here’s the video. Apologies for the quality, I was using a macro lens so I was very far away from them but its interesting footage. The photobombing fish didn’t help 😉

Not sure if wonderpus count but I doubt they get their own day so here is a cheeky chappy I meet in Raja Ampat:

to see some others I’ve meet see the last ‘world octopus day’ post I made here. For more octopus fun check twitter, theres some really cool stuff online today. Don’t forget to add me, I’m scuba_suzy on twitter.

PhotoFriday – ‘Portrait’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Portrait’

Here is a portrait of a very friendly turtle from my most recent Red Sea trip for this weeks photofriday theme. I really need to finish going through the photos and get a proper post out about that trip! I was on the Wreck of the Giannis D shooting with a Red Filter, pity he was on the non-sunny side here. He was super friendly though, I even took some video proof that Alex Mustard is the turtle whisperer.

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

Noteworthy for B&W
Also, thanks to everyone who voted on my previous entry for Black & White it made the noteworthy list 🙂

Psst… Please check out my excellent used Nikon Gear page, I’ve swapped over systems and I’m still trying to raise money on my previous gear get them now before they go.

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.

Happy World Octopus Day!

Today is World Octopus Day!

octopus infographic

I love these guys, I’m glad they get their own day. I enjoyed seeing the video & infographic (below) from the National Aquarium but I prefer my creatures out in the open ocean here are a few charters I’ve met on my travels:

Octopus in the Red Sea:

Blue ring – Danger!

I’d heard a lot about these guys, killers with blue rings. I was expecting a proper sized octopus. I couldn’t stop giggling when I saw him. So tiny! I was sure to keep my pinky fingers out of his reach thou, just in case 😉

Coconut shell octopus are often found living inside discarded bottles and other trash these days but in 2007 I managed to actually find one with a coconut shell!

But do wonderpus & squid get a look in, here are some I met in Raja Ampat?

Losing Nemo – Empty Oceans by 2048?

Blackfish films gives us sometime to think about here:

You can see the video in fullscreen HD directly in vimeo here. I wanted to post this a couple of months ago, but I wanted to post it after all my red sea schooling fish images so you can see what we’ll be losing. Unfortunately, it somehow got left floating about in draft form!

Most people are aware that the oceans aren’t doing so well, but what is going on exactly? Overfishing is one of the biggest problems our planet currently faces and I for one am very glad to have given up seafood but you don’t have to go that far… if you want to get involved, The Black Fish has a page with volunteering opportunities.

A human video game: Siro-A

Last night I went to see these guys, Siro-A in the leicester sq theatre.

It was a really enjoyable evening out. Last week I went to see the David Bailey & Bruce Webber Nokia private view and on the weekend I went to an Olympus photo event in Brick lane. Both of which I blogged about on my OCA degree blog. Yet to be shown are my Open House photos of City Hall from the weekend. There is so much great stuff on in London I’m finding it hard to keep track! Tonight I’m thinking about whether to go to the science museums late night event on photography. What have you been to see recently? Please let me know in the comments 🙂

My Wedding Day

It’s been a long time coming but finally I got my wedding photos & video on the web 🙂

Mike & I got married at the end of August in a lovely little Windmill with a very small set of close family, then back to Dads for photos & cake.

See more photos here.

We decided not to go with a wedding photographer/videographer so here are the results of the day taken by ourselves & family. During the wedding I had a gopro in my bouquet, one on the side on a little mini tripod & Mikes dad filmed most of the ceromony too (thank goodness because the audio from my gopro (in its case) was terrible. Unfortunately the HD version was a little over my Vimeo upload allowance so you’ll have to make do with standard def, which is more squished than I’d have liked, sorry about that.

You can watch it on vimeo here.

Photos from our honeymoon coming up next!

Going Mirrorless – Taking my Olympus OMD underwater

Olympus OMD in Nauticam Housing

Before I go too much further with my Red Sea images, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my new gear. I’m not usually a gear head but quiet a few people have been interested so I thought while it was all fresh in my mind I’d get it down here. The flow of new holiday images will resume tomorrow!

At the beginning of the year I was lucky enough to have two week use of an Olympus OMD in Raja Ampat (thanks to Alex Mustard who had his spare when my luggage didn’t make the flight). It worked well for my own needs so when I got home I started selling my nikon gear (theres still some lenses and a housing left if you’re interested) to buy into this new little system. This most recent Red Sea trip was the first trip with my very own Olympus OMD. Here I’ll list what I liked and disliked and some tips & links I found useful.

So pros & cons… urmmm.


Tiny & Lightweight. This is greatest point for me not only for travelling but also in the water. I can hold the rig with one hand without my arm falling off! I have RSI in my wrists so I always found the subal housing a bit much. Also, for photographing around London I can look more like a tourist (you get away with less hassle from officials with a small snappy looking camera) and it fits in my handbag. It also fits on a very small gorilla pod which also fits in my handbag 🙂

In the picture below you can see the size comparison between my wee little camera and the D300 subal like I used to use.

Size Comparison

Great High ISO performance. I got up to ISO 2500 in the caves in Jackfish Alley. Here is one at ISO 1000. My D300 didnt really like to go much above 800 before the noise started to creep in. Its useful for filter shots too as they lose you one stop of light and its good to bump the ISO to maintain a decent shutter speed.

Magic filters are so much easier now, I used to have to tape it to the back of the lens but the little Panasonic FE has a little filter slot…

Magic Filter

This photo of Yolanda Reef was taken with Magic Filter (as were many of up yet to be blogged about Schooling Snapper photos so stay tuned over the next few days). I also found the custom white balancing less of a pain in the rear.

Video! My old camera had no video capability. I’m a pretty bad camerawoman for video but I’m sure I’ll get better with practice. Its really nice to have the option to switch to video. This is especially effective with a magic filter on (because I dont have any movie lights) or in very shallow water.

Here is 4 seconds straight from the camera. No filter, just really shallow. You can see it in HD on vimeo here.

I took a lot of little video clips with my Oly and my GoPro so after I’ve finished going through my photos I’ll see what I’ve got to show you 🙂

x2 crop factor. While everyone else is going full frame crazy with D800 etc I was loving the DX crop (x1.5) factor on my D300 for macro work and holding out for a D400. Now I have x2 crop factor – even better for macro! This also means I only need one macro lens. The 60mm on my Oly is really 120mm which is somewhere between 105mm (155mm) and 60mm (90mm) for my two macro lenses for the Nikon D300. In Raja Ampat I was easily able to take Pygmy seahorses & Skeleton Shrimp with the 60mm.

Screw thread on the macro port. Another macro plus point, I’m able to screw a subsee lens straight onto the housing without the need for an adaptor. I know what I want for Christmas! 😉

Tiny 3.5″ dome. This is a pro & a con depending on how you look at it (see below for the con). For close focus wide angle I’m able to get my tiny camera lower & closer to things to get a different view point than before. Here is a crocodile fish I found under the boat…

Configurable buttons & dials. This is great. You can really customise exactly what you want for each button to do if you have the patcence to go through all the menus initially. Alexs settings guide is a great place to start. I didn’t use all the same settings because I wanted to keep the video for video but many of the same. One thing to bear in mind if you are going to reduce your flashes down to 1/64th though, make sure to have your Inons set to flash only once (with no pre flash). I Spent a whole dive wondering why my flash guns (set on manual) were very dim and its because I was only getting the pre-flash power – doh! (You have to push a lock the little button on the back of the strobe to be normal position.

Optical triggered Strobes. I cannot tell you how cool I found this. You can actually take your strobes off camera underwater and slave trigger them with no other gear required. In fact when I wanted to experiment with off camera strobe I fixed the slave unit to a sync cord on one strobe(just so I could hide the strobe) and fastened it to the optic until I needed it off camera then just detach it, set it on the tripod and volia!

These sweepers I blogged yesterday were taken with an off camera strobe to light up the caves behind them:

I also experimented with off camera strobe in the wreck – those images coming up in tomorrows post.

Really nice iAuto mode. I’m pretty lazy for topside photos. I find the auto mode be produce great photos right out of the camera.

Takes SD memory cards. This is another pro & con. Pro because SD cards are more flexible, you can use eyefi cards etc, also a pro because I don’t need to carry an extra card reader because SD fits straight into my macbook air 🙂 And my GoPro 2 takes SD cards. It’s a con because I had to buy all new extra memory cards because most SLRs take CF so just another added extra expense of change over with no need for CF cards anymore.


Only small domes. With my Subal housing I had a mini dome and a larger dome. The larger dome is useful for split shots in rougher weather. I did try a dive with the 4″ dome which has better corner sharpness than mine and was able to get this one…

In completely dead flat water in the mangroves of Raja Ampat I was able to get this one with my 3.5″ mini dome but the sea is rarely completely glass still like that:

No lens reuse with my old system. I’m having to sell all my nikon stuff which is a pain. If you know anyone who is after some great condition Nikon lenses please give them this link: https://suzywalker.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/nikon-subal-gear-for-sale/

Slightly slower auto focus in some cases. This is a pro & a con actually. I mentioned above that now I only use one macro lens. I think this focuses faster than my 105mm Nikon (which hunts like crazy underwater) but no where near as far as my 60mm Nikon which was alway my favourite lens.

Not in the Adobe LR list of lens corrections. This is just weird. Both Olympus & Panasonic are missing from the lightroom list of cameras & lenses you can auto correct the distortion etc on for such instances where you’d like to de-fish your fisheye lens.

I think that’s it for the pros & cons. If I think of anymore I’ll edit the post or add them as a comment below. There are some things which are neither pro or con just different and needing a mental adjustment for. I am enjoying now shooting for a 4:3 frame and hardly ever shoot to crop for 3:2 aspect ratio. And changing from amazing viewfinder on the Subal housing to using the screen on the Nauticam (it has a view finder buts its pretty unusable on the housing) has been a bit of a stiff adjustment for macro subjects. I often find myself pointing the camera in the completely wrong place for the critter and having to mentally map the contours of the coral to find the critter on to the screen.

Here is my Equipment List for reference:

  • Olympus OMD EM5 with kit lens. Important not to buy body only because you need the little flash unit that comes with the kit.
  • Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro lens
  • Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm lens
  • Nauticam Housing for OMD
  • 3.5″ semi-dome port (for the FE lens)
  • Macro port 45
  • Gear ring to make the 12-50 kit lens fit inside the macro port. They do a port specially for it but its very expensive and yet another thing to carry.
  • Nauticam knob that fits in Coldshoe to attach my strobe arms too. You can get trays & handles but I wanted it without.
  • I already had the strobes (two Inon z240’s and ultralight arms)

And here is the list of useful resources for taking the Olypmus OMD underwater:

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you have an OMD and love it too then also comment to say why if I haven’t listed your reason! Stay tuned for more red sea pictures. Tomorrow, the Thistlegorm wreck, one of the most visually interesting wrecks I’ve ever visited.

DJI Phantom – First Flight

Hadleigh Castle

Mike and I had fun over at Hadleigh Castle this weekend test flying the DJI Phantom Quadcopter. Here is a little video I put together of footage from the air, a few shots Mike took while I was flying and a few Aerial shots from the GoPro Hero 3 I attached to the ‘copter (It was on 1080p 30fps + stills every 0.5 sec for anyone interested in that sort of detail but it’s been downgraded to 720p for vimeo).

You can watch in larger on vimeo here.

DJI Phantom

Aerial Shot

Aerial Shot

Aerial Shot

Hadleigh Castle

Harlem Shake Underwater Edition

of all the silly Harlem Shake videos I’ve seen this was the first one I saw and its still the best one …

ps. Dont forget I need you guys to help me sell all my Nikon stuff, here’s the list if you’re interested and I’ll be updating it as things get sold off.