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Category Archives: 365

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m not a cave diver or a wreck diver.  Well, on the Palau trip, check and check.  Caves and wrecks.  And not so bad.  (Thanks Alex.)

On this one, I was looking around for some nice fish or other lovely ocean dweller framed by railings, superstructure or whatnot (but for real — not made in photoshop like this one — seriously, go take a look, I’ll wait).

And then I saw this.  It looked to me like a pirate’s treasure chest.  The yellow coral on the lip even looked like golden doubloons overflowing from the chest.  All of those other little bits and pieces — gems, orbs and more.  So cool.  I shot it from a bunch of angles and ultimately liked this one the best.

But it still wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  Too much exposure to Disney animated movies and Saturday morning cartoons had made me want something with super saturated colors.  And at the image review where I showed this people suggested having lights shining out of the chest.  Genius!  That would look like something Scooby would have encountered.  (If only the Mystery Machine were wrecked down there too.)

Ok, just one problem with that plan.  No way I was going to go into the wreck to show lights up through the hole.  Because, just like on a movie set.  The “chest” wasn’t really a chest.  It was some sort of access point with a lid but no floor.  Alex very nicely volunteered to put one of my lights down there and then we both shot it.  He might have gotten a good one.  But I wasn’t happy with the result.  I think I needed more lights and more lumens per light.  Now if only it had been at night…
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Dive site: Dexter’s Wall, Palau

Shot at 1/200th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

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Soon I’ll be going  back to Maui and will see lots of these guys.  So many that I kind of get jaded.  And then…

This one was a shot in Palau at Dexter’s wall, a dive site we really loved and went back to several times. Great hard corals and lots of turtles. Well, seemingly lots of turtles.

This was my last dive of my Palau trip and I was really hoping to shoot turtles. I still had some compositions in my head that I just hadn’t gotten. Well, the first part of the dive I didn’t see many turtles. Nice corals.  Some other nice fish.  But turtles … not so much.  And then later in the dive, my dive buddies were already working with all the turtles I saw. So after a lot of swimming around looking,  I was getting kind of low on air, so I came up and did my safety stop. Turned off my strobes and camera and was listening to that nasty little voice in my head. You know the one. And with 3 minutes to kill (at 15 ft), really a little mindfulness would go a long way. (Note to self: keep working on it.) Anyhow, all of a sudden I see not one but 2 turtles.

Hurry, hurry turn everything on. Wait, forget about the strobes — I’m right here at the surface in the bright sun. Just shoot! Sun rays and turtles. Not a bad end to the trip.
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Dive site: Dexter’s Wall, Palau

Shot at 1/60th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Up in Alaska, we saw humpback whales come together to cooperatively make a bubble net to feed on small fish.  This isn’t that.

We’d just had a very nice dive and were hanging out on our safety stop when a large, tightly packed group of divers passed underneath us.  It was quite a crowd. Were they all breathing synchronously?  Were they trying to corral us so that they could eat us like the whales?

I’ve certainly seen plenty of other divers’ bubbles before.  But never a wall of bubbles like this.  And the good news is that Juan was there to pose.
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Dive site: Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 1/40th @ f/8, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Here’s a cave-y shot for a non-cave diver (me).

You enter at the surface and go down through a shaft that opens out into a big room with a smaller chamber behind.  This is the view from the back of the big room looking out to the open ocean with one lone diver.
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Dive site: Blue Holes, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 1/40th @ f/8, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Another shot from Jellyfish Lake.  This time with one of our very accommodating dive guides modeling.
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Snorkel site: Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake on one of the Rock Islands of Palau.  To get there, the boat drops you at the pier and you then hike over a hill to the lake.  We went twice.  The second time, early in the morning and it was very tranquil when we arrived.

I’m not sure, but the lake seemed even saltier than the ocean.

When you get to the dock in the lake after coming back down the hill, you put on your mask, fins and snorkel and jump in.  At first, it’s just a green lake.  No jellies.  Then, as you swim toward the sunny side, you see one jelly.  Then another.  Then a few more.  Then the density goes up fast.  Until finally, you feel like you’re swimming in a thick jellyfish soup.

The jellies keep swimming around, ensuring that they stay in the light.  They do this so that the algae they’re carrying can photosynthesize for them.  Over the long term, these jellies have lost their ability to sting and hunt.  Instead, they’re solar energy farmers.
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Snorkel site: Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Another shot from Alex Mustard’s Palau underwater photography workshop.

Palau’s reefs were in great condition, teeming with fish, big and small.  Small schools.  Big schools.  Lots of kinds.

Here are lots of nice, shiny barracuda.  And one interloper.

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Dive site: Sand Bar/Shark City, Palau

Shot at 1/250th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, two Sea & Sea strobes which I should have turned off.

 

I’m just back from Alex Mustard’s Palau underwater photography workshop.  And wow, it was big fun.

This is one of my favorite shots from the trip.  We saw turtles on many sites in Palau, but by far the most at Dexter’s Wall.  A very lovely site all around.  Sharks and lots of fish too.  Pretty hard corals.

This one makes me thing of those old constellation pictures.  Turtle up in the starry sky.
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Dive site: Dexter’s Wall, Palau

Shot at 1/200th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Day 4 of the Wetpixel Whale Shark trip.  (Yes, if you’re keeping score, there’s no day 3 yet.  When I get those shots processed, I’ll do a day 3 out of sequence.)

Each day we’ve tried to get up just a little earlier to be early out to see the sharks before lots of others get there.  But maybe we should have told the sharks we were coming early.  Because despite leaving extra early this morning, we spent a while looking for sharks.  We saw lots of flying fish.  But no sharks.  But then right as I was thinking, gee, what could we do for a plan B, the radio crackled with news that someone else had spotted sharks.  So off we went for what turned out to be another great shark encounter including one super stealthy one that snuck up on me from the back.

I definitely shot more today, but wasn’t as dialed in as before.  But I did get a few I liked.

Here’s Christian Dimitrius, Emmy Award winning wildlife cinematographer and photographer, finning hard to get the shot of the whale shark. I am jealous of his free diving fins. And even more jealous of his stamina.
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1/125, f/6.3, ISO 640

The whale sharks typically carry multiple remora.  And honestly, I don’t understand why the remora hang out with the whale sharks.  I’ve always thought that remora eat up the scraps that bigger fish and sharks leave behind.  But whale sharks don’t shred up other things and leave pieces behind.  They’re filter feeders eating bonito eggs (think the size of the orange tobiko at your favorite sushi place) and other tiny stuff.  Maybe the remora are just along for the ride?

I even saw a remora in the nostril like hole behind the eye one one whale shark and on another 2 remoras on the sides of the shark’s mouth, like dimples.

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1/125, f/8, ISO 640

And here’s one getting that big mouth up to the surface to suck down the eggs floating on the top.
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1/125, f/8, ISO 640

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1/125, f/8, ISO 640

Big, big mouth.
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1/250, f/9, ISO 640

And here’s one wearing a sargasso barrette.
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1/320, f/8, ISO 640

Snorkel site: 20 miles offshore from Isla Mujeres, Mexico

All shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Day 2 of the Wetpixel Whale Shark trip.  And even better than day 1.  Sometimes less is more.  This is not one of those times.  And today there were lots more sharks.

First swim of the day. First shot.

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If you were this big and you only ate tiny little things like itty bitty fish eggs, you’d probably sail around with your mouth open all day too. Like these guys:

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Snorkel site: 20 miles offshore from Isla Mujeres, Mexico

All shot at 1/320th at f/5.6 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.