Photo Essay

Photo essays from top underwater photographers and dive travel destinations, including behind-the-scenes insight, photo tips and best camera settings.
This detailed look at the underwater animals of Vancouver Island will have you packing your drysuit and camera gear right away
By Aaron Halstead

Portraits from God's Pocket

Aaron Halstead
This detailed look at the underwater animals of Vancouver Island will have you packing your drysuit and camera gear right away

A couple years ago, I would never have guessed my vacation time would be spent packing an ever changing assortment of dive gear into checked luggage and carry-on camera gear, hoping on a series of planes, diving, and then repeating that process all over again.  To further complicate airline luggage rules, you also have these bulky dry suits and undergarments to pack and you begin to think, why would people do this to themselves?  Put simply, because it's so worth it!

The nutrient rich waters of God's Pocket (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada) offers some truly amazing and unique diving, full of colors and life I certainly didn't fully expect. Part of the thrill for me is discovering things I couldn't have planned for.  Sure, I had a list of things I wanted to see; giant pacific octopus, hooded nudibranchs, warbonnets in a bottle and wolf eels. But, playing tug of war with an GPO who took a quite-strong interest in my strobe, or discovering a type of anemone with miniature versions of itself clinging to its sides, or the wavy motions and sail of the sailfin sculpin; those are all safely cataloged in my internal dive logs, as stories I'll have to tell in the years to come.

 



Aaron's Underwater Camera Gear

 Nikon D90, Aquatica housing and ports, Sea&Sea YS-110a strobes, Retra LSD snoot, Nikon 40mm, Nikon 60mm, Nikon 105mm, Tokina 10-17mm, 1.4x teleconverter and various diopters and lights




 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Halstead is an avid diver, critter enthusiast and underwater photographer living in Southern California. He is pretty addicted, send help.

More work can be found on his Website or Facebook page.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


12 photos of Fiji's most colorful and interesting fish flashing, yawning and displaying other great behaviors
By Andreas Goldhahn

The Colorful Fish of Fiji

Andreas Goldhahn
12 photos of Fiji's most colorful and interesting fish flashing, yawning and displaying other great behaviors

The nation of Fiji is comprised of over three hundred beautiful islands in the South Pacific ocean. The unique topography, where towering green mountains drop straight into a crystal clear ocean fringed with coral reefs, has attracted tourists for decades. Newlyweds kick their feet up and watch sunset, surfers take shade inside racing emerald tubes and, most importantly for us, scuba divers and freedivers explore the reefs below the surface.

Names like the Bligh Waters, Namena, Beqa Lagoon and Taveuni roll off photographers' tongues inspiring the lust for adventure in those listening to their underwater tales.

Fiji has been written about so many times in so many dive magazines that photographer Andreas Goldhahn and I have decided to take a different approach in telling the story; we leave it to the photos. 

Be sure to read Part I of this series, The Vibrant Soft Corals of Fiji.

- Editors

 

Lyretail (aka Scalefin) Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Yawning Damselfish
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Pink Skunk Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Palette Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Schooling Bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutes)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

 Orange Spotted (aka long nose) Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

 Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Mirrored wrasse movement
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

Angelfish in profile
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

Stocky Anthias (Pseudanthias hypselosoma)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
Camera: Nikon D7200
Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

 

About the Photographer

Andreas Goldhahn is an underwater photographer based in Munich, Germany. An 8 year veteran shooter, Andreas has been traveling the world documenting the underwater world with both a Nikon D500 and Nikon D7200, accumulating over 500 dives in the process. You can see more of Andreas' work on his Facebook page.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


A photo essay comparing images shot on a smart phone with a variety of accessories and lighting tools.
By Brent Durand

Shooting a Smart Phone Underwater

Brent Durand
A photo essay comparing images shot on a smart phone with a variety of accessories and lighting tools.

In an age where most photos are viewed on a computer or smart phone screen, there's a new generation of affordable cameras that can hold their own against much more sophisticated systems. Of course, there's a time and a place where each camera system (compact, mirrorless, DSLR, or other) excels, and good reason to invest in the system that's right for you.

We grow as photographers when we problem solve for shifting variables - a concept I try to stress during photo workshops. Something as simple as passing clouds can pivot your entire wide-angle photo strategy during a dive. No arms and clamps? No problem. You can experiment with handleld light and really learn where the cone of light falls off in relation to your subject. Photography isn't just about some settings - it's about using a tool to capture the scene in front of you. The different tools do different things.

With the spirit of experimentation in mind, below are photos shot with a melange of photo gear during our recent Sri Lanka photo workshops. Hopefully this is some inspiration for all of us to get out there and experiment!

Photos shot using constant lighting techniques. Be sure to check out the What's in the Camera Bag feature where I discuss this gear in more detail.

 

A diver hovers below a cloud of fish on the Car Wreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

A tractor sits overturned on the Medhufaru Wreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

A moray eel peers at the photographer. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

Macro time! Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UCL-06LF Diopter  |  Kraken Weefine Ring Light

 

 

Colors abound on the Car Wreck. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

Even the dive guide can't help but film some video on the Perseus shipwreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

It pays look search the nooks and crannies of the Car Wreck for colorful subjects. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

A lionfish drifts back and forth in surge during a dive on the Lotus Barge wreck. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

 

Distortion can create a fun effect when used sparingly. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UCL-06LF Diopter  |  Kraken Weefine Ring Light

 

Sometimes it's nice to step back and enjoy the big picture. Photo: Brent Durand

iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens

 

Be sure to read these features for more info on the gear in this article.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is managing editor of the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Interested in joining Brent on a photo workshop? Email Bluewater Travel for more info!

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


A photo essay and diving overview, including best dive sites, in Tulamben.
By Nirupam Nigam

Photographer's Guide to Tulamben

Nirupam Nigam
A photo essay and diving overview, including best dive sites, in Tulamben.

Situated on the northeastern edge of the island of Bali, Indonesia, the fishing village of Tulamben has gained increasing recognition of its excellence as a dive destination. Almost all tourists here are divers – the black cobble beaches and the single road lined with dive resorts do not cater to anything else. The diving is certainly the best in Bali and as diverse as one could ever hope for in a diving destination.

Tulamben is heaven for the budget diver and the underwater photographer. The three sites on the main beach and half dozen sites in the Tulamben area can keep a diver occupied for weeks! All dives in the area are done from shore and equipment rentals can be dirt cheap – a tank rental may cost under $5. Reputability comes at a price, so if you are going to dive cheap, it’s best to be experienced and use your own equipment. Budget diving does come with adventurous perks – a faraway dive operation often means a ride on the back of a scooter with your gear between the driver’s legs!

 

 

 

USAT Liberty Shipwreck

The highlight of Tulamben, of course, is the USAT Liberty shipwreck. At over 120 m in length, this shipwreck is arguably one of the best wreck dives in the world. The vast size of the WWII cargo ship creates massive “walls” and jungle gyms of corals for divers to swim around. Countless species of fish dart in and around the wreck, and rainbow colored nudibranchs and frogfish hide in its crevices. Beautiful and iconic yellowline sweetlip perch and batfish hang out around the shallow edges of the wreck. Among some of the prettiest rainbows of soft coral that I have seen can be found along the stern and adjacent to the hold. A night dive here almost guarantees a sighting of massive, sleeping bumphead parrotfish. Although Tulamben is known for its macro photographic opportunity – the wide angle opportunities at the wreck are unbeatable. Beware of diving at peak hours – growing popularity has introduced crowds of divers on the wreck daily, especially divers that are “bused in.” However, diving at other times can often yield an empty wreck.

 

 


Coral Garden & Drop Off

Just south of the shipwreck lies two equally spectacular sites. The first of these is the Coral Garden. Situated along the same black sand slope the wreck sits on – Coral Garden is an ideal site for finding critters. Cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, leaf scorpionfish, and ribbon eels are all frequent inhabitants. Various statues, including a popular Buddha statue lie at the southernmost point. Perhaps the most spectacular thing about coral gardens is the fields of large anemones and anemonefish that start only 2-3 meters below the surface. Farther south, at the termination of the beach is the third (arguably the best) site in Tulamben – the Drop Off. Here, schools of fish resembling rush-hour traffic swim over a vast, beautiful coral wall. Coral here is healthy and huge – some sea fans are larger than a diver! A ton of life hide in the cracks and crannies of the wall. Currents pick up as soon as you round the point – I personally got stuck fighting to get back to the beach against current for half an hour on a full moon. Beware of the tides!

 

 

Seraya Secret

Tulamben would not be a haven for underwater photographers without its iconic muck site – Seraya Secret. Though it isn’t much of a secret, the site is just south of the main Tulamben beach and has facilities catered to underwater photographers. Seraya is the perfect opportunity to photograph some of Tulamben’s famed critters among dark, black sand. This is a great place to see pygmy sea horses, juvenile emperor angelfish, frogfish and countless species of nudibranch.

 

 

Although Tulamben may be out of well-trodden tourist areas of Bali, it has something for every type of diver. It’s best to see it now before its growing popularity catches up with it!

 

Learn more about scuba diving Tulamben, Bali on Bluewater Travel.

 

About the Author

Nirupam Nigam works as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea collecting scientific data for NOAA fisheries. When he doesn’t work he travels and dives when he can – preferably on the west coast of the USA.

 

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


12 vividly colored wide-angle photos that will make you want to book your dive trip to Fiji tomorrow
By Andreas Goldhahn photos, Brent Durand text

The Vibrant Soft Corals of Fiji

Andreas Goldhahn photos, Brent Durand text
12 vividly colored wide-angle photos that will make you want to book your dive trip to Fiji tomorrow

Say the word 'Fiji' in a room full of divers and you can watch as eyes widen and smiles begin to appear on suntanned faces.

The nation of Fiji is comprised of over three hundred beautiful islands in the South Pacific ocean. The unique topography, where towering green mountains drop straight into a crystal clear ocean fringed with coral reefs, has attracted tourists for decades. Newlyweds kick their feet up and watch sunset, surfers take shade inside racing emerald tubes and, most importantly for us, scuba divers and freedivers explore the reefs below the surface.

Names like the Bligh Waters, Namena, Beqa Lagoon and Taveuni roll off photographers' tongues inspiring the lust for adventure in those listening to their underwater tales.

Fiji has been written about so many times in so many dive magazines that photographer Andreas Goldhahn and I have decided to take a different approach in telling the story; we leave it to the photos.

Photographer Andreas Goldhahn captured the images below with the Nikon D500 or the Nikon D7200.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about scuba diving in Fiji.

 

About the Photographer

Andreas Goldhahn is an underwater photographer based in Munich, Germany. An 8 year veteran shooter, Andreas has been traveling the world documenting the underwater world with both a Nikon D500 and Nikon D7200, accumulating over 500 dives in the process. You can see more of Andreas' work on his Facebook page.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


An inside look at the scuba diving and underwater photo opportunities in Yap, Micronesia
By Paul & Lisa Hogger

Dispatch from Yap, Micronesia

Paul & Lisa Hogger
An inside look at the scuba diving and underwater photo opportunities in Yap, Micronesia

Our latest installment of Paul & Lisa's Dispatch series brings photos from an iconic dive destination in Micronesia.

Google up some images from Yap.

 If there’s ever a selection of photos that conjure up what most people think the Tropical Pacific is, then these are it! Blue water, white sandy beaches, palm trees, amazing culture and beautiful people.

Yap is one of the 4 states of Micronesia. Due to its small population and remote location, it sadly plays poor cousin to the 3 larger states. Even in diving tourism, it receives only a fraction of the country's visiting divers. (The majority descends on the famous wreck diving location of Truk Lagoon in the state of Chuuk.)

 

Diving Yap

Divers mainly come to Yap for the Manta Rays. After all, Yap is regarded as one of the world’s premier locations to view the magical Mantas.

In recent years the Mantas have moved locations (the sites where divers go to see them), which has brought with it both pros and cons.

The old location was a cleaning station bommie within a channel inside the lagoon. It was close to the outer reef edge, meaning it was flushed with clear blue water for most of the time. The downside was it was in 18m/60ft depth, which meant that the dive was limited by NDL’s – although the use of Nitrox (if available) could help.

The new location is within the same channel but it is a lot further inside the lagoon and away from the reef edge. The downside is the reduced visibility inside the lagoon, however, diving towards the top of the flooding tide helps considerably. The huge advantage of the new location is the depth. The top of the coral bommie is just 5m/16ft deep with the Mantas hovering above that. It means both snorkelers and divers can enjoy long periods of time in the water with them. We found the limiting factor of our dives being our strobe batteries!

 

Diving with the Mantas

Initially we were unsure just how close the Mantas would come to the divers, so we started with a 12-24mm Nikon Lens. We quickly found out that they can come very close - hovering only inches above your head - so we swapped to a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens.

For photographers, the coral bommie is round in shape and it only takes a few minutes to swim around it. This means you can chose your photography spot depending on the sun's location. With such shallow depths you can not only have the sun behind you, but also experiment by using it within the frame as sunbursts with the mantas. The effect can be stunning with the right exposure.

Transiting from the dive shops in the main town of Colonia to the Manta location is a blast, as the experienced boat skippers push their craft at high speed through a series of tight mangrove and rock lined passages. At no time do you go anywhere near the reef edge or outer ocean, which means that the site can be accessed in most weather conditions.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Just Mantas in Yap

The dive action in Yap doesn’t stop after dark, with dusk/night dives being very popular at O’Keefes Island, which is also within the protected inner lagoon waterway.

O’Keefes Island’s claim to fame is it has the world’s largest population of Mandarin Fish.

These cute and very colourful fish emerge out of the coral just before dark. This gives photographers the opportunity to get a photo of them as they cruise around the coral looking for a mate. The courtship happens all too quickly as they spiral up out of the coral together before releasing eggs and returning back to the safety of the reef. It can be a real challenge to get a good mating shot, but with depths once again being shallow at around 6m/20ft, there is ample time.

We found the Nikon 60mm Macro lens perfect for the job. A small modelling light with variable power settings also helped with finding the mandarin fish and focusing. It didn’t seem to scare them off when used on low power.

 

Topside in Yap

In between dives take some time to walk around the island to explore the history and culture. One famous Yap icon is the stone money. Some of it is huge... over 3m/10ft diameter.

One of the best locations is the province of Rull, which is only a 15 minute walk south of the resort and dive shops. The streets are lined with them along with many traditional thatched roof leaf houses and the old but well maintained stone paths. If you are walking without a local, carry a small leafy tree branch in one hand indicating you are coming in peace. 

If you can time it, try to get your dive holiday to coincide with Yap Day, an annual weekend of Cultural significance for the Yapese people. It includes performances, dancing, competitions and displays. It is for the local people and they must be in traditional dress, however tourists are welcome to attend and are even encouraged to also wear traditional dress – and that includes the women going topless. This is, after all, an everyday Yapese custom.

Of our 6 years of full time travels on-board our yacht Lorelei, Yap Day has by far been the cultural highlight of our journey.

Read more from our Yap adventure at yachtlorelei.blogspot.com

 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul and Lisa are an Australian couple originating from Australia’s East Coast. Of their 20 years of marriage they have lived on their private yachts Purranha and Lorelei for 14 years and have been full time sailing/cruising for 9 of those years. Their latest expedition began in 2011 onboard Lorelei with the main purpose to dive many of the world’s best dive locations. To date they have explored 22 countries in the South Pacific, North Pacific and Asia – covering a distance of over 24 000 nautical miles.

They are independent divers and can proudly say that over 95% of their underwater images were taken whilst diving by themselves from their purpose built dive tender on board Lorelei. They are PADI pros and have over 8000 dives between them. Due to the harsh conditions of sailing life, they choose Nikon, Ikelite and Aquatica photographic equipment.

More information and images of their travels can be found on their blog:

www.yachtlorelei.blogspot.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Get lost in this underwater photo essay on the diving and critters in this remote area of Raja Ampat, Indonesia
By Paul & Lisa Hogger

Dispatch from Batanta Island

Paul & Lisa Hogger
Get lost in this underwater photo essay on the diving and critters in this remote area of Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat: a well-known diving mecca. It is diverse and stunning both above and below the water surface. The schools of fish and reefscapes are praised, but it has not been recognized as a macro / muck dive hotspot... until now!

After sailing our yacht through Raja Ampat for over 3 months, we had done more than 100 dives and were a little “wide-angled” out. We had experienced immense colour, soft corals and fish schools for the majority of the dives and we were looking for a change.

We had read about a macro destination at a series of 3 black sand beaches on the SW corner of Batanta Island, about 20nm from Raja’s central town of Sorong. The rest of the island has no recognized dive locations and therefore it is rarely visited by the dive liveaboards. Additionally, the prevailing winds during the dive season make the area exposed with onshore winds. We were in the area and had a 7 day weather window of light winds, so we went and explored. Surprisingly, we found the entire length of coastline to be uninhabited.

We chose some dive locations that looked like they had the right attributes with small fresh water steams, black sloping sand and a small amount of structure. We were rewarded with some incredible diving that in our view was the best macro diving we have ever encountered. When you can see 5 species of octopus (including Mimic, Wonderpus and Blue-Ringed), leaf scorpionfish, frogfish & pipefish, along with dozens of nudibranchs in a single dive, then you know it’s good.

 


 Want to dive Indonesia? Bluewater Travel will help book the perfect photo and dive trip.


 

 

The 3 long beaches were spread over a 4 nautical mile distance so we used the RIB to explore all 3. The easternmost beach had more structure and soft coral while the western areas were more black sand. At 24m/80ft, the sand floor of the central beaches were full of sea pens that where home to many varieties of small crabs and fish.

 

 

On the final day we dived in an isolated corner of the westernmost beach that had very little structure but big vertical washouts in the black sand. The area had the largest amount of nudibranchs and flatworms we had ever seen. We estimated over 350 and around 60-70 different colours/species. We have one photo with 5 different coloured Nudis.

 

 

We left after 6 days and 12 dives with a folder packed full quality images. It took us more than double the amount of dives to get a comparable collection of images from locations like Tulamben, Ambon, Lembeh Strait, Alor, Komodo, etc…

Bang for buck per dive, we are confident to call this the best macro location in Indonesia (that we know of). For the macro enthusiasts, try to organize a trip to Batanta Island one day. We recommend a 60mm Macro Lens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious about Paul & Lisa's other photo journies?  Read their other travel dispatches linked in the 'Also by' section below:

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul and Lisa are an Australian couple originating from Australia’s East Coast. Of their 20 years of marriage they have lived on their private yachts Purranha and Lorelei for 14 years and have been full time sailing/cruising for 9 of those years. Their latest expedition began in 2011 onboard Lorelei with the main purpose to dive many of the world’s best dive locations. To date they have explored 22 countries in the South Pacific, North Pacific and Asia – covering a distance of over 24 000 nautical miles.

They are independent divers and can proudly say that over 95% of their underwater images were taken whilst diving by themselves from their purpose built dive tender on board Lorelei. They are PADI pros and have over 8000 dives between them. Due to the harsh conditions of sailing life, they choose Nikon, Ikelite and Aquatica photographic equipment.

More information and images of their travels can be found on their blog:

www.yachtlorelei.blogspot.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Get lost in this underwater photo essay on the diving and critters from remote Northern Indonesia
By Paul & Lisa Hogger

Photo Dispatch from Siau, Indonesia

Paul & Lisa Hogger
Get lost in this underwater photo essay on the diving and critters from remote Northern Indonesia

In late 2014 we sailed our yacht from the Philippines to Indonesia and cruised along the Northern Archipelago between Mindanao and Northern Sulawesi, stopping at many places to dive. This tour included the island of Siau, which is located within the Sitaro Province.

We had googled diving in Siau but did not find much info except that a few exploratory liveaboard dive boats pass through the area each year. Our curiosity was perked, and we made sure to get in the water ourselves.

The muck/macro diving in Siau’s main east coast harbour area left us speechless!

We dived on some black sand beaches further north of the harbour as well, which also brought fantastic results.  We later chartered a small open boat from the Coast Guard to dive the West Coast.  The West Coast was in stark contrast to the East Coast with blue water, big walls and loads of fish life. There is a wreck at 40m/130ft and a spectacular point covered in hard lettuce coral.  And after each dive on the west coast, we were rewarded with a swim in the hot springs produced from the active volcano.

For divers travelling to the Lembeh Strait or the Bunaken National Park in Manado, consider adding an extra few days to the trip and catch the high-speed ferry (125nm) to Siau to dive with the newly opened operators Siau Diving. 

The area has just as many macro critter species as Lembeh, better viz, no crowds and the added bonus of wall and wreck diving.  Combine that with friendly people, a quiet town, the hot springs, the endemic Siau Tarsier & the Karangetang active volcano and you have a fantastic dive holiday destination.

With more time and the right weather, diving the Mahengetang active underwater volcano is also an option and is a fast boat ride from Siau. We have done it and it’s incredible.

Below are some photos offering a little insight into this fantastic diving.

 


 Want to dive Indonesia? Bluewater Travel will help book the perfect photo and dive trip.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious about Paul & Lisa's other photo journies?  Read their other travel dispatches linked in the 'Also by' section below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul and Lisa are an Australian couple originating from Australia’s East Coast. Of their 20 years of marriage they have lived on their private yachts Purranha and Lorelei for 14 years and have been full time sailing/cruising for 9 of those years. Their latest expedition began in 2011 onboard Lorelei with the main purpose to dive many of the world’s best dive locations. To date they have explored 22 countries in the South Pacific, North Pacific and Asia – covering a distance of over 24 000 nautical miles.

They are independent divers and can proudly say that over 95% of their underwater images were taken whilst diving by themselves from their purpose built dive tender on board Lorelei. They are PADI pros and have over 8000 dives between them. Due to the harsh conditions of sailing life, they choose Nikon, Ikelite and Aquatica photographic equipment.

More information and images of their travels can be found on their blog:

www.yachtlorelei.blogspot.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


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A circular fisheye odyssey through Bunaken, Indonesia's best dive sites
By Lisa Collins

Wide-Angle in Bunaken Marine Park

Lisa Collins
A circular fisheye odyssey through Bunaken, Indonesia's best dive sites

Glass-like water reflected the suns ray as we skimmed over the flat calm surface of Bunaken National Marine Park on Siladen Resorts’ comfortable dive boat, the flat island of Bunaken and the 800m tall volcano of Manadotua just behind, making a beautiful backdrop.

The bright sun plays a very strong part in the beautiful reefscapes we shoot under the surface in wide-angle underwater photography. Not only does it feed the beautiful soft and hard corals found encrusting the deep walls that Bunaken is famous for, supplying the whole marine food chain from tiny crustaceans to whale sharks, but the sunlight can also be used to enhance the colours or to act as a focal point in your imagery. These are called sunburst shots, and Bunaken is the perfect place to practice them.

Bunaken is known for its currents, however, Siladen’s boat captains and dive guides choose the dive sites to minimise the amount of current which was perfect for underwater photography. 

 

 

Depan Kampung

Our first dive of the trip was at the site Depan Kampung. Dropping over the side to amazing 40m+ visibility, the sunlight streaming into the water, I could immediately see the reef undulating with life. As I dived down, a large green turtle swam up to the surface for a breath of air. Looking down, I saw another resting on a shelf on the reef wall. A perfect wide-angle photo subject!

Lining up with the turtle, I adjusted my camera settings and approached carefully so as not to scare the turtle. Looking lazily at me, he was unbothered as I took several shots with my brand new Canon EOS 6D camera in an INON X-2 housing with 2x INON Z-240 strobes. I had the new Canon 8-15mm circular fisheye lens so was interested to see how the extreme fisheye images would come out. This lens is limited underwater as it can only be used in the 8mm position or the 15mm position because it produces a whole black circular frame around the images at 8mm, which is acceptable. But as you zoom in the black circle becomes distorted, which is not acceptable. By 15mm the circle has disappeared to allow for a full image. 

I positioned myself with the sunlight coming from behind, shooting slightly towards the surface so as to use as much natural light in the composition as possible. I used my buddy as a model and signalled for him to approach the turtle from behind rather than the side, as I wanted both him and the turtle looking towards the camera.

 

 

Tinongko

Our second dive was at Tinongka, where the wall started as a shallow slope then dropped away almost vertically to the depths. Large sea fans, whip corals and sponges protruded out from the wall, making perfect subjects to practice shooting - both into the sun and with the sun at my back. Because the visibility was so good, the clarity of the images really lent themselves to wide-angle. 

By noon, the sun was at its zenith, piercing straight down. This had the advantage of lighting up the reef, giving more available light, but was difficult to control when shooting towards the sun. Using the lowest ISO I could, along with the highest shutter speed that would allow synchronisation with my strobe, 1/325th, I chose a fairly high f-stop to darken the background and brought both strobes close to the housing, pointing straight out to just light the subject. With the strobes on manual, I took several images lowering and increasing the power of the strobe until I got the lighting I wanted. I used this technique a lot over the course of the 2 weeks I was at Siladen. I was able to use the sun as a focal point, something I like doing, whilst controlling its glare so the image wasn’t burnt out.

 

 

Bolung I

Bolung I is normally dived as a macro dive, being a sandy slope with lots of small critters, however, there is a sunken dive boat at about 18m that makes a very nice subject for wide angle photography. It has a huge school of glass fish making their home there. As other photographers had their heads down photographing critters, I moved up towards the shallows where the late afternoon sunlight threw beautiful slanting golden beams across the sand to where large congregations of orange starfish gathered readying themselves for the night feeding frenzy. Another great circular fisheye opportunity.

 

 

Fukui

At a site called Fakui, Siladen’s general manager, Miguel, posed for me whilst following a school of striped catfish moving as one over the reef, feeding, whilst a beautiful school of batfish hung in the shallows producing perfect wide angled shots.

 

 

 

Other Bunaken Dive Sites

Dives at Mike’s Point, the most Northern site in Bunaken, Celah-Celah, and Lekuan were all perfect for wide angled underwater photography with beautiful colourful reefs, plentiful schools of different fish and good to great visibility. 

On our penultimate afternoon, whilst off-gasing, we decided to snorkel around the jetty at Siladen, trying to take some half, half shots with the lowering sun. A group of local children spotted us and came to play, making very willing and enthusiastic models for our last few photographs at  Siladen.

 

 

 

Learn more about diving Bunaken Marine Park on Bluewater Travel's Siladen Resort page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I have been taking underwater photos for nearly 20 years, being lucky enough to dive extensively worldwide. My passion grew into a profession, becoming a partner in the distribution of INON products in the UK and developing a comprehensive underwater photography course. I now run the INON UK Level One Courses and Workshops around the world. I was very privileged to be asked to test prototype equipment for INON Japan and my images feature on their website and in their brochures. I am also a major feature writer for several well know dive publications. My enduring passion has always been to showcase our amazing underwater world, highlighting the fragility and conservation of it through my photography.

www.inonuk.com

www.inon.jp

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Magical Misool at the Southern End of Raja Ampat in West Papua is an underwater photographer’s paradise
By Paul & Lisa Hogger

Photo Dispatch from Misool, Raja Ampat

Paul & Lisa Hogger
Magical Misool at the Southern End of Raja Ampat in West Papua is an underwater photographer’s paradise

In short, Misool at the Southern End of Raja Ampat in West Papua is an underwater photographer’s paradise.

What makes this location unique is that many of the amazing underwater photo opportunities can be experienced without the need of SCUBA gear.

For sure the SE corner of Misool is a scuba divers dream with walls of large and colourful soft corals to keep the wide angle enthusiast enthralled for hours. There are also some quirky underwater caves and arches to explore.

But what we found the most rewarding was the alternatives to scuba diving.

Misool has at least 2 Jellyfish lakes. Unlike Palau, these smaller lakes are open to the ocean, have jellyfish with longer non-stinging tentacles and surrounded by high terrain making for glassy surface conditions. There are a lot less Jellyfish than Palau but the structure around the edge of the lakes makes for interesting backdrops to photograph the Jellyfish. Plus there are no crowds!

Another highlight is “The Bluewater Mangroves”. This unique Mangrove system located in the NW of Misool lies very close to a deep water drop-off. Every day on the flood or rising tide the Mangroves are flooded with clear, nutrient rich blue water. The result is incredible viz (often exceeding 40m/130ft) in the shallow mangroves. The nutrients over time have feed the system and despite the shallow depths, the area is abound with amazing soft corals, sponges and fish life.

The topography in Misool both above and below the water is incredible.

There are limestone karst style beehive spires that protrude out of the glassy bays making it a kayaking dream. Take your UW camera with you and the under/over shots in the glassy waters are endless.

 


 Want to dive Raja Ampat? Bluewater Travel will help book the perfect photo and dive trip.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about scuba diving Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul and Lisa are an Australian couple originating from Australia’s East Coast. Of their 20 years of marriage they have lived on their private yachts Purranha and Lorelei for 14 years and have been full time sailing/cruising for 9 of those years. Their latest expedition began in 2011 onboard Lorelei with the main purpose to dive many of the world’s best dive locations. To date they have explored 22 countries in the South Pacific, North Pacific and Asia – covering a distance of over 24 000 nautical miles.

They are independent divers and can proudly say that over 95% of their underwater images were taken whilst diving by themselves from their purpose built dive tender on board Lorelei. They are PADI pros and have over 8000 dives between them. Due to the harsh conditions of sailing life, they choose Nikon, Ikelite and Aquatica photographic equipment.

More information and images of their travels can be found on their blog:

www.yachtlorelei.blogspot.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


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