Up from the Deep.

I went out blue water diving with some friends a couple weekends ago and while we were shunned by any of the big stuff… no molas or other large pelagic life, we did see lots and lots of jellies. Small and transparent most of these would be hard to photograph on a normal dive. Since this was a blue water dive we were tethered to a line dropped off the boat and just floating along with the current. Drifting as such means that I only get about 30 seconds to compose, focus and shoot any passing jelly before the float past and out of my reach. This makes the dive more exciting as I tried to get a good shot, or even just a shot in focus. This was my second time out, and I was a bit more successful.

Beware the Blob.

Now that the Halloween season is upon us*, I figured I’d share some horrifying pictures of a deep sea terror often found lurking in the shadows… or maybe just strewn across the sand and rocks?

Beware… the Sea Cucumber!!!

*It’s officially now October and I purchased a pumpkin spice candle. I’ve decided that the Halloween season is in fact upon us. And my candle smells amazing.

More Macro.

I spent a little time messing around with back lighting and macro practice on a Red Gorgonian. I positioned my strobe as far in front of my camera as I could, aiming it back towards the lens. I then was able to position the camera in front of this gorgonian covered in polyps with the strobe now behind it. This configuration created the dark centers and nice bright flower looking polyps along the edges.

Later, I wanted to see just how close I could get, and tried taking several shots of a bat star’s skin. I was impressed to see the detail, and the different colors that make up its skin. The rough looking orange section and the transparent purple bits. The photo isn’t amazing, but I love seeing these creatures super closer!

Surgealicious.

At the beginning of July I got the chance to finish an Advanced class with several students that I had began the class with a couple months ago. We were headed out on the Peace with two dives to complete, which meant I would also get two “fun dives” in. Excited for another chance to practice photography, I brought my camera to use on the dives once we were done with the AOW class. The day was great, though the visibility wasn’t fantastic in general. We hit up Cathedral Gardens and Rat Rock first, and I was a bit bummed at Rat Rock that I didn’t have the camera with me. When we hopped in and descended I looked for a patch of sand to start with the class and couldn’t find anything, the bottom seemed covered in thin weeds. However when we got closer I discovered that it was not weeds, but rather brittle stars! The entire bottom of the ocean in this area was thoroughly blanketed with massive amounts of brittle stars. It was incredible. Hopefully I’ll get to go back soon with camera in hand.

I was able to take the camera on dives 3 and 4 at Channels and Fish Bowl Point respectively. Since the visibility was limited, I decided to focus on macro which would keep me close to the subject and the poor viz wouldn’t matter so much. This would have been great except for one minor issue. SURGE. Most of my dive was spent in about 20ft of water, and the surge was intense. I found it extremely difficult to compose a shot with the macro lens on, a few inches from a subject and snap the shutter before I was tossed back and forth with the surge.

There were a ton of really beautifully colored anemones at the Channels dive site, and I wanted to practice shooting them as the lines and patterns they contain can make beautiful pictures. I didn’t have a ton of luck in capturing that great shot of a perfectly centered anemone with its tendrils fanning out along the edge, but I did capture several different colors and beautiful patterns of lines. Hopefully I’ll get to visit again with better viz and much less surge! Here’s the first of the next round of photo posts: Anemones!

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Filling the Frame.

The second to last group of pictures from my photography adventure a couple weeks ago is of a tube anemone. I had my macro adapter with me and really wanted to work on some macro shots and practice with “filling the frame,” another one of Scott’s composition tips. I had a little trouble at first, not getting my camera to focus properly…that is until realizing I had messed with the settings on my camera and was not even in the mode I wanted to be. After taking a second to switch back into manual and check my exposure settings I tried again. This time everything worked right. After that I spent the next 15 minutes (at least!) huddled over this anemone trying to get a shot with it wide open, perfectly centered with its tendrils spreading out of the frame. Finally I got it…well its maybe not 100% in the center, but its pretty darn close!

I continued shooting, trying different angles, still working to fill the frame but also to see if a lower angle, or an off angle would create a more compelling image. I remembered the rules of trying to use the diagonal and ended up liking this next image…

What I really liked is how the inner tendrils of the anemone are more prevalent, carefully reaching up and out of the dark center. Once again, I had trouble not shifting any sandy bits as I knelt in the sand next to the small creature, but as a first time practice I’m okay with the small white spots of sand marring the dark center. If I really wanted to I’m sure I could take them out in photoshop, but I haven’t had the time.

After awhile I remembered I was underwater with a finite air supply, so I checked my gauges, surprised to find my air half gone and 30 minutes elapsed. Yikes! Looking around I also discovered that the rest of the group had moved on to other subjects, so I said goodbye to my anemone and swam up to shallower water in order to make the dive last a bit longer and to find another macro subject.