Photo Essay

Photo essays from top underwater photographers and dive travel destinations, including behind-the-scenes insight, photo tips and best camera settings.
The 3rd photo essay in our series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography
By Jo O'Shea and Ron Watkins, text by Brent D

Epic Photo Destinations: Solomon Islands

Jo O'Shea and Ron Watkins, text by Brent D
The 3rd photo essay in our series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography

Our third epic photo destination is the Solomon Islands. The bar is set very high for these underwater photo destinations, and the Solomons continually prove that they sit right up there with Raja Ampat and French Polynesia, plus our next two epic destinations (secret as of now).

Bluewater Photo has selected these Top 5 destinations and I've put together some photos to show you just how great the underwater photo opportunities are. 

 

The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are certainly no secret to divers, but are also not one of the current trendy dive destinations. They don't receive the regular tourist traffic common in neighboring Fiji and French Polynesia either. This means that the water is cleaner and the reefs see much less dive traffic - which is ideal for underwater photographers.

According to Bluewater Travel's Solomon Islands page, divers will find "wrecks, caverns, wide-angle reefs, large sea fans, soft corals and lots of macro." There are also many unique cultural opportunities with the locals, and the liveaboards often do up to 5 dives per day! These things combine to make an incredible dive trip filled with photo opportunities.

The photos below will speak for themselves, and you better believe the Solomons now ranks high on my dream dive trip list! 

 


Book Your Trip to the Solomon Islands

Book your personal Solomon Islands dive trip.

Join our August or September 2016 Solomon Islands Photo Workshops.

Email bookings@bluewaterdivetravel.com for detailed info.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join a Photo Workshop

Join our Solomon Islands u/w photo workshops, lead by pro photographer Mark Strickland. Two workshops offered on the Bilikiki liveaboard:  August 23-30, 2016 and Aug 30 - Sept 9, 2016.

Want to join Joanna O'Shea for an underwater photo workshop?  Jo is co-hosting Bluewater Photo's Anilao workshops in April/May 2016: Anilao Photo Workshop Spring 2016.

Want to join Ron Watkins for an underwater photo workshop?  Ron is hosting a Galapagos Photo Workshop in May 2016 and French Polynesia Photo Workshop in December 2016.

 

Epic Destinations #1 and #2

Epic Photo Destination #1:  Raja Ampat

Epic Photo Destination #2:  French Polynesia

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.

 


The second photo essay in our series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography
By Brent Durand (text), Photos by Various

Epic Photo Destinations: French Polynesia

Brent Durand (text), Photos by Various
The second photo essay in our series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography

This photo essay explores the underwater world of our second epic photo destination. Our list of top 5 destinations, selected by Bluewater Photo, started with the biodiverse reefs of Raja Ampat, and today we visit the clear, sharky waters of French Polynesia.

Underwater photography and international travel go hand-in-hand, and hopefully these photos get your fingers itching to get in the water on your next trip.

 

French Polynesia

French Polynesia is a collection of 118 tropical South Pacific islands and atols - the stuff dreams are made of. Popularly called Tahiti, Tahiti is actually just the main island of the country.

Why do underwater photographers travel to French Polynesia?  Sharks, sharks and more sharks.  There are also abundant colorful reef fish, manta rays and a wide range of other critters.  The water is also crystal clear, enhancing all of these photo opportunities.

But why describe the underwater beauty here when we can share tons of photos to really show why French Polynesia should be at the top of your u/w photo list. After seeing these, you better believe I'm dreaming of the day I dive there!

 


Book Your Trip to French Polynesia

Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book the perfect French Polynesia dive trip. Visit BluewaterDiveTravel.com for more info, or join our July 2017 Photo Workshop.

 

Email bookings@bluewaterdivetravel.com for personalized info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out our Epic Photo Destination #1:  Raja Ampat

 

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.

 


The first photo essay in a series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography
By Brent Durand

Epic Photo Destinations: Raja Ampat

Brent Durand
The first photo essay in a series of 5 epic destinations for underwater photography

Underwater photographers are a unique group of divers, with the majority actively traveling the world in search of new dive and photo experiences. Maybe there's an urge to visit that "you must go here" recommendation from a friend, or maybe the trip is to try and create that iconic pier photo from the magazines, or maybe it's a desire to add to a collection of nudibranch portraits. Whatever the reason, dive travel is a lot of fun, and a great way to experience the varying marine life around the globe.

This special feature is article #1 of 5, with each showcasing one of Bluewater Photo's favorite destinations for underwater photography and video.

 

Raja Ampat

Dubbed the "Four Kings" after local folklore, Raja Ampat is a collection of islands between the Maluku Islands and west coast of Papua, Indonesia. There are several diving hubs where underwater photo and video shooters can find resorts to fit most budgets (keep in mind that these are remote places for travel). Liveaboard boats have also become a popular way to see a wide variety of Raja Ampat's landscape and marine life.

I had the opportunity to dive Raja Ampat via Papua Diving and Papua Paradise in late September 2014, and while my dive travel is limited, I was blown away by the color, diversity, exhilarating current dives and conversations with local staff at both resorts. Below is a photo essay from Raja Ampat through my eyes and those of a couple other photographers.

 


Book Your Trip to Raja Ampat

Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book the perfect Raja Ampat dive trip. Visit BluewaterDiveTravel.com for more info, or join our March 2016 Raja trip (special price) or Dec 2016 Raja photo trip.

 

Email bookings@bluewaterdivetravel.com for personalized info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Amr A. Abdul-Majeed

 

 

 

 

Check out our Epic Photo Destination #2:  French Polynesia

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

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 recap from our small group photo trip to La Paz
By Brent Durand

Underwater Photo Journey Through La Paz

Brent Durand
A photo essay and recap from our small group photo trip to La Paz

Baja California is a special place. A place where the still mornings and vibrant evening colors contrast with unparalleled underwater experiences by day, drawing on memories of quotes from notables like Cousteau and Steinbeck.

Upon arrival in La Paz, you can’t help but settle into “Mexico time," going with the flow on land while singing through your regulator underwater. Sea lions, bait balls, whale sharks, dolphins, mobula rays and many other surprises await divers who venture to the Sea of Cortez. I keep going back. Will keep going back. 

 

La Paz Small Group Photo Trip

During Bluewater Photo’s small group photo trip to La Paz we experienced some incredible diving and snorkeling. Shooting sea lion photos was distracting because of all the cormorants and pelicans dive bombing into bait balls around us. When we started to swim back to the boat from whale sharks, another would appear, luring us back away from the boat to shoot more photos.

Each night was filled with eating at La Paz restaurants under sunset skies and sharing photos and editing techniques at Club Cantamar, our home base for the trip.

Thanks to all the new friends who joined this year’s trip. And here’s to another great trip next year! 

 

La Paz underwater photos


La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

 

 

La Paz underwater photos

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

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.

 


Wide-angle, macro, wrecks and the most beautiful diving in the Solomons
By Joanna O'Shea

10 Dive Sites you Must See in the Solomon Islands

Joanna O'Shea
Wide-angle, macro, wrecks and the most beautiful diving in the Solomons

Solomon Islands is a hidden gem in the South Pacific. Still relatively new to tourism, it sees far fewer visitors each year that its neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu. This means pristine reefs, and no other boats crowding the dive sites. One of the reasons Solomons is know for the best diving in the world is because it has such a variety of diving options: reefs, wrecks, big animals, little critters, caves and beaches. Here are my top ten favourite sites.

 

Twin Tunnels

Twin Tunnels is named for two big vertical lava tubes in the sea mount. The tubes are next to each other; you can pick either and swim down to where they join and open up on the side of a reef wall at about 36m. The walls of the lava tubes are covered in fans and whip corals, and occasionally you find nurse sharks resting on the sand at the bottom. This dive is great not only for the lava tubes, but for the huge schools of fusiliers that constantly school around the entrance to the tunnels, and the fabulous reef on top. You can find pygmy seahorses in the fan corals, hairy squat lobsters live in the edges of the barrel corals, and it’s a great place to find cuttlefish, octopus, and eels.

 

Twin Tunnels Solomon Islands

This shot was taken from about halfway down the lava tube, looking straight up towards my dive buddy as she descended.

1/60, f3.5, ISO 400

 

Twin Tunnels Solomon Islands

Pygmy seahorse on a fan near the lava tubes.

1/250, f22, ISO 100

 

 

White Beach

This site is surprisingly not a white beach; the island is actually edged by mangroves. It was an American military base during the WWII, with the code name “White Beach”. When the troops departed, they pushed everything into the sea. So if you’re into wrecks, there is plenty here to explore: trucks, pieces of machinery, bullets and old coke bottles. But I love this site for its incredible macro life. Nudis galore, jawfish, pipefish, harlequin shrimp, mandarin fish and tons of juvenile fish. Along the edge of the mangroves, you can see pyjama cardinals and archer fish loitering amongst the tree roots.

 

White Beach Solomon Islands

Pipefish are abundant at this site, and they are always happy to pose.

1/320, f11, ISO 100

 

White Beach Solomon Islands

Archer fish are known for their ability to shoot down resting insects by spitting a jet of water to knock down prey from tree branches above the water. They are the sharpshooters of the ocean, able to account for the refraction of the light on the water surface to hit their target.

1/125, f14, ISO 100

 

White Beach Solomon Islands

Friendly locals watching as I surfaced at the end of a dive. The kids are always fascinated by dive gear.

1/160, f7.1, ISO125

 

Leru Cut

Probably the most famous dive site in Solomon Islands, Leru Cut is an indent into the side of a small island which runs for about a hundred meters, around 12m deep. You can surface at the end of the “cut”, and feel bizarre being in scuba gear in the interior of the island, while looking up at huge trees with vines hanging down and birds calling.

 

Leru Cut Solomon Islands

Light filtering down onto Leru Cut.

1/60, f4, ISO400

 

Leru Cut Solomon Islands

Leru Cut.

1/60, f3.5, ISO640

 

Mary Island

Mary Island, also known as Mborokua, is the best site for schooling jacks, barracuda and sharks. Huge bumphead parrotfish are also common.  As if that wasn’t exciting enough, there is an underwater volcano nearby, which gives off the occasional rumble.

 

Mary island Solomon Islands

Schooling barracuda at Mary Island.

1/100, f11, ISO 125

 

Mary island Solomon Islands

Schooling jacks at Mary Island.

1/200, f10, ISO100

 

Battery Point

This is my favourite site for night dives. The sandy slopes are a great place to find little critters including mantis shrimps, bobbit worms, snails and nudis, as well as hunting squid, cuttlefish and rays.

 

Battery Point Solomon Islands

Squid sometimes use divers lights to hunt. One night at Battery Point this squid caught and ate a fish in front of my eyes. I felt a bit sorry for the fish, but I was happy with the shot.

1/160, f14, ISO 100.

 

Battery Point Solomon Islands

Bobbit worm. Its powerful jaws, toxic bristles and rainbow shimmer are very impressive.

1/200, f20, ISO 160

 

 

Wreck of the Ann

This wreck is worth diving twice; once with a wide-angle lens to shoot the wreck, then you should come back and find all the tiny critters on the wreck itself. Soft coral crabs, nudis, and shrimps are abundant. The sandy slopes to either side are also worth exploring for crocodile fish, eels and rays.

 

Wreck of the Ann Solomon Islands

Diver above the wreck of the Ann.

1/100, f4.5, ISO125

 

Wreck of the Ann Solomon Islands

Soft coral crab, perfectly disguised to match its home.

1/250, f22, ISO100

 

Bonegi

At Bonegi Beach, a short drive from the centre of Honiara, two large Japanese WWII wrecks lay conveniently in shallow water. Starting at just a few metres depth (making them accessible to snorkelers and divers alike), each wreck is covered with amazing biodiversity; fish, shrimps, nudis, eels, rays, and diverse, healthy hard and soft corals.

 

Bonege dive site Solomon Islands

The Bonegi wrecks are home to several species of anthea.

1/160, f10, ISO100

 

Mirror Pond

This is another site with both excellent wide angle and macro opportunities.  There is a cave you can enter by swimming under the reef, and then you can surface in a beautiful pool under the jungle canopy. There used to be a resident saltwater crocodile here, but (happily for most) he’s not there any more.

 

mirror pond Solomon Islands

Coral hermit crabs are tiny, living in holes around 6-8mm diameter. They are filter feeders, using their feathery arms to collect particles from the water.

1/320, f25, ISO100

 

mirror pond Solomon Islands

Calm, sunny shallow hard coral gardens at Mirror Pond are a pleasure to explore.

1/80, f4, ISO 100

 

mirror pond Solomon Islands

This is the “pond” which gives the site its name. You can swim under a cut in the reef, and surface here to admire the lush green jungle above.

1/80, f3.5, ISO 640

 

Maravagi

Maravagi is in the Florida Islands, and is best known for its dive site called “Devil’s Highway”, where divers hook onto the reef and let the fast current fly past while manta rays swim overhead. But the shallow waters just off the beach are also worth exploring; they are home to a vast array of juvenile species including baby batfish, cuttlefish, crabs, rays and scorpionfish. 

 

maravagi Solomon Islands

Maravagi Island, left, is separated from a nearby island with a deepish channel, where you can find schools of manta rays cruising on the current when the tide is right.

1/320, f9, ISO100

 

maravagi Solomon Islands

A tiny crab hides at the base of a tube anemone in the shallows.

1/250, f20, ISO100

 

Mbike

Mbike is a tiny island not far from Honiara, with simple accommodation and a purposely sunk wreck just off its beach. It’s regular weekend getaway for Honiara residents.

 

Mbike Solomon Islands

This fishing boat wreck sits in shallow waters off the side of Mbike Island.

1/125, f4.5, ISO 160

 

Mbike Solomon Islands

Nembrotha kubaryana is my all-time favourite nudi, and for some reason this wreck always has at least a dozen of them crawling around its deck.

1/250, f18, ISO100

 

Mbulo Caves

Mbulo Island has a series of caves cut into the reef around the island. This dive is all about the light; swimming in and out of caves, finding beams of light to shoot. A green jungle canopy lies above.

 

Mbulo Caves Solomon Islands

1/80, F3.5, ISO 400

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joanna O’Shea is a divemaster and photographer, and one of Bluewater’s Trip Leaders. Born in Sydney, Australia, she is happiest when on a dive boat in the South Pacific. She lived in Solomon Islands for three years, and published a book of underwater photography called “Solomon Islands: Under the Sea”.

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.

 


Photo Essay from 3 days of diving California’s northern Channel Islands
By Brent Durand

The Wild Side of the Channel Islands

Brent Durand
Photo Essay from 3 days of diving California’s northern Channel Islands

The kelp forests of California’s Channel Islands are mystical. They’re magical. They grow up to two feet a day and create a home for a wide variety of fish and critters from the water’s surface into the sand.

Bluewater Photo’s recent 3-day northern Channel Islands trip presented my first opportunity to dive the northernmost island, San Miguel, as well as log more days at the islands than I typically dive in a year. And I was stoked. And even more stoked after meeting all the other divers on the boat, the stellar crew of the Conception, and dropping anchor for dive one on a glassy kelp bed under sunny skies.

 


Join a Bluewater Dive Trip or Workshop

Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book the perfect dive trip, including one of our workshops. Visit BluewaterTravel.com for more info.

 

 

San Miguel Island

They say that the first people to populate the Americas paddled their way down the kelp forests of the west coast and Channel Islands, venturing deeper into a wild and uncharted territory. And on descending through thick kelp onto large walls and channels reminiscent of northern Cali, I felt a sense of exploration raise the hairs on my neck.

 

San Miguel Island underwater

 

San Miguel Island underwater

 

San Miguel Island underwater

 

San Miguel Island underwater

 

Santa Cruz Island

After spending a full day at San Miguel, we ventured south in search of giant black sea bass, shallow kelps forests and their inhabitants: sea lions, harbor seals, huge sheephead, bat rays and abundant macro subjects.

 

Santa Cruz Island underwater

 

Santa Cruz Island underwater

 

Santa Cruz Island underwater

 

Santa Cruz Island underwater

 

Santa Cruz Island underwater

 

Further Reading

Author's Gear Profile

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

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.

 


Explore the sand flats of the Sea of Cortez and the fish who call it home in this unique photo essay
By Vijay Raman

Secret Dances in the Sand Flats

Vijay Raman
Explore the sand flats of the Sea of Cortez and the fish who call it home in this unique photo essay

 

Secret Dances in the Sand Flats


Explore the sand flats of the Sea of Cortez and the fish who call it home in this unique photo essay

Text and Photos By Vijay Raman

 

sea of cortez jawfish

 

 
SHARE THIS STORY

On my recent photo workshop, with Bluewater Photo aboard the Rocio del Mar, I was able to capture some very interesting territorial and courtship behavior. On our last dive of day one, while our group settled in and started surveying the rocky reef to photograph the local reef fish, eels and other reef inhabitants, the critter hunter in me decided to drop down over a ledge, to the sand and rubble flats at 55 feet, to see what I may find. What was otherwise a barren desert just off of the reef, soon came alive once I hunkered down, hovering at eye level to the bottom. In the fading light of dusk, I quickly noticed a profusion of tiny fish that popped up everywhere putting on flashy and colorful courtship displays. Needless to say, I spend the whole dive within a 20-foot radius on the sand, in the middle of the action.  

Dive Log: Isla Angel de la Guarda, Northern Sea of Cortez

Dive site: La Muela 

 


Book Your Trip to the Sea of Cortez

Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book the perfect Sea of Cortez dive trip. Visit BluewaterTravel.com for more info.
 

sea of cortez pikeblenny

Peering out from a worm tube.

 

The unassuming Orangethroat Pikeblennies, which often inhabit the vacated casings of tube worms, peered out of their holes, watching for predators. The males, seeking the attention of nearby female suitors, would occasionally dart up out of their holes, flaring out their dark dorsal fins and brightly colored orange, black and blue accentuated throat flap, with mouths agape and a quick and quirky, lurching dance before rapidly retreating back into their burrows. Other unsuccessful Pikeblennys fought to take over a better spot nearer a suitor. 

 

sea of cortez orangethroat pikeblenny

Orange throat Pikeblenny in full display. 1/160th, f/18, ISO 200

 

sea of cortez orangethroat pikeblenny

Jockeying for position.

 

sea of cortez orangethroat pikeblenny

Using shallow depth of field to accentuate this pikeblenny. 1/200th, f/10, ISO 200

 

 

Within this mix, were neatly manicured burrows of the Blue Spotted Jawfish, distinguished by their circular pebble wall at the entrance of their hideout. 

 

sea of cortez blue spotted jawfish

Blue spotted jawfish playing hide and seek.

 

When not engaged in household chores of clearing sand out of their burrows, the endearing little jawfish would sit with just their heads poking out of their holes, watching their surroundings. Every minute or so, the male would suddenly pop out of his hole, flaring out his fins with a flash of black and white with iridescent blue spots, to display for only a second or two before darting backwards into its burrow. 

 

sea of cortez blue spotted jawfish

Male jawfish displaying it’s beautiful colors. 1/200th, f/10, ISO 100

 

In the very last split second, almost imperceptible to the eye, the jawfish tucks in and turns tail to dart back in head-first. 

 

sea of cortez blue spotted jawfish

Tuck and roll.

 

sea of cortez blue spotted jawfish

Darting back into the hole.

 

Jawfish are mouth brooders, meaning that the male holds the eggs in his mouth until the fry are ready to hatch. On another dive we were able to photograph the larger Fine Spotted and Giant Jawfish with eggs in their mouths. 

 

sea of cortez jawfish with eggs

Jawfish with young eggs.

 

We saw some jawfish with fresh yolky yellow eggs and others with gray eggs ready to hatch, eyes of the fry visible.  Every few minutes the fish would push the eggs out slightly to oxygenate the eggs, giving the patient photographer a chance to capture the egg mass. It becomes a game of wait and watch - to get the shot right at the peak of action.  

 

sea of cortez jawfish with eggs

Jawfish with mature eggs, ready to hatch.

 

 

Photo Tips

To shoot these benthic fish I used a faster shutter speed to catch the fast action and often a larger aperture, for a shallower depth of field, to separate my subject from the sandy background. Getting really close also helps to isolate the main subject and blur the background. The rest is patiently waiting for the right moment. Excluding the Sea Lions and Whale Shark encounters, this dive turned out to be one of my favorites of the trip and straying off of the reef into the seemingly barren sand really paid off.

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

vijay raman

 

Vijay Raman is an avid underwater photographer and has been shooting underwater since the mid 90’s. He is the sales manager for Bluewater Photo and also a Bluewater trip leader. His award winning images have been seen in various print and digital media. To see more, please visit www.vijayraman.com.  

 

 

Author's Gear Profile

All photos taken with the Nikon D7200 in Nauticam D7200 housing, with the Nikon 105mm VR Micro lens and Sea&Sea YS-D1 strobes.

 

 

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.

 


 

 
 
SHARE THIS STORY

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.

 


Guest Photos, Workshop Report, Critters of the Season and More
By UWPG News

Anilao Workshop Photo Essay

UWPG News
Guest Photos, Workshop Report, Critters of the Season and More

 

Anilao Workshop Photo Essay


Guest Photos, Workshop Report, Critters of the Season and More

Text by UWPG

Photos by Various

 

 

 
SHARE THIS STORY

As the sun rose out of view behind us, the softly thick pink of Batangas dawn evaporated into the golden light of a calm morning. Bluewater Photo's spring 2015 back-to-back underwater photo workshops were now underway. Or actually... they started the afternoon before!

These workshops pack 4 long dives per day, three great meals, a daily image review, daily photo seminar and one-on-one instruction on everything from gear to settings to post-processing. And it starts the afternoon you arrive at the resort, presenting some incredible value for your hard-earned cash.

Each dive of each day was filled with critters presented by Crystal Blue's incredible guides: Edgar, Glenn, Pong, Jhomel, Jhomer and Paul. These guys had every guest on critters throughout their 60 or even 90 minute dives.

 

The Anilao Workshop

Led by Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and UWPG owner Scott Gietler and pro photographer / Anilao resident, Mike Bartick, along with assistance from UWPG editor Brent Durand, each workshop was 7 or 10 days in length.

Anilao, Philippines is a beautiful place for a macro-focused workshop. The muck diving is world-class and the reef diving features colorful sponges, corals bursting with anthias, crinoids, walls and pinnacles to keep wide-angle shooters engaged.

Bluewater Photo's Anilao workshops use a 4 divers to 1 guide ratio, leaving ample space on the traditional bangka boats. The resort has one of the best photography setups in the world, with a large air-con camera room, camera rinse and dry stations on the dive deck and boat crews who carry guest cameras everyday and know the gear well enough to spot whether you forgot to plug in a cable or to put that focus light back on after swapping batteries.

Our schedule is action packed, with breakfast served just after 6am, a fun group image review at 7, the first two dives at 8am, lunch, a 2pm photo technique seminar, 3pm afternoon/evening dives and then dinner and time for a massage, editing or one-on-one instruction.

Dive sites are about 10 minutes away, and we visited about 20 different sites, including muck sites, rubble sites, rich reefs, wrecks, pinnacles, and walls.

Scott Gietler tried out the new Nikon D810 camera on the trip, you can read his full Nikon D810 underwater review.

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop Seminar

Scott presents during a mid-day seminar. We had seminars and image reviews each day.

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop Seminar

Mike presents during a mid-day seminar.

 

 

Join us in December '15 or Spring 2016

Our upcoming trips

We have workshops in Anilao in December of 2015, April of 2016 and May of 2016 - full details are here, we hope you can join one.

 

Anilao December 2015 Photo Workshop

  • December 6 - 13, 2015 (with option to add 3 more days)
  • $1,599 for 7-night workshop with 24 dives (including daily night dives)
  • Hosted by Bluewater Photo's Vijay Raman

 

Anilao Spring 2016 Workshops

  • April 21 - May 1, 2016 and May 1 - 11, 2016
  • $2,299 for 10-night workshop with 36 dives (including daily night dives)
  • Hosted by Scott Gietler and Mike Bartick

 

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

A great crew for workshop 1! This crew was a great mix of new shooters, experienced shooters, and "spotters".

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

And another great crew for workshop 2! These guys and gals were ready to dive each day faster than you could say "Blue Ring"

 

 

Guest Underwater Photos

(selected at random from both workshops)

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Cuttlefish - Photo: Aaron Halstead. Most guests saw pygmy cuttlefish, larger cuttlefish, and a few flamboyants.

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Tiger Cardinal fish with eggs - Photo: Dan Kurz. There were lots of cardinal fish with eggs on this trip, at lesat 3 different species.

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Photo: Pam Murph

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Colmani Shrimp - Photo: Wojciech Meczynski

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Crinoid shrimp - Photo: Tam Sorayanawuttiwong

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Photo: John Berschied

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Nudibranch Gills - Photo: Deb Devers

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Photo: Chris Fry

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Photo: Judith Crews

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Mantis Shrimp with eggs - Photo: Joe Ly

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Yawning Frogfish - Photo: Jared Klein

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Photo: Donna Ebert

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Magnificent Goby - Photo: Dan Blum

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Lizardfish - Photo: Kerry Kiene

 

Anilao Underwater Photo Workshop

Hairy Frogfish -Photo:  Amy Zamurut. We saw at least 4 hairy frogfish on this trip.

 

 

Additional Workshop Photos

 

Ribbon Eel - Photo: Scott Gietler

 

Cuttlefish - Photo: Scott Gietler

 

Photo: Scott Gietler

 

Photo: Scott Gietler

 

Eubranchus Nudibranch - Photo: Scott Gietler

Anilao underwater photo workshop report
Blue-ring Octopus. We also saw many Mimic & Coconut Octopus, and an Algae Octopus. Photo by Scott Gietler

 

 

Photo: Brent Durand

 

Photo: Brent Durand

 

Photo: Brent Durand

 

Other Anilao Critters

We saw hordes of amazing critters on the trip, including many ornate ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, thorny seahorses, lots of squid, cuttlefish, and octopus. Many jawfish, cardinal fish, mantis shrimp, and clownfish with eggs, probably 20 - 30 different frogfish including 4 hairy frogfish, a few flamboyant cuttlefish although not as many as other years, a healthy assortment of nudibranchs, hairy gobies, lemon gobies, pink-eyed gobies, mandarin fish, every shrimp and crab imaginable, sea snake, bobbit worms, sand-divers, and much much more. The rhinopias were elusive this year, I think we had a wonderpus sighting but they were quite rare this year, for the first time.

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

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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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.

 


Incredible macro photo essay with the Nikkor 60mm, 105mm and a Snoot
By Dan Kurz

Nikon D7100 Underwater Photos from Komodo & Alor

Dan Kurz
Incredible macro photo essay with the Nikkor 60mm, 105mm and a Snoot

 

Nikon D7100 Underwater Photos from Alor


A macro photo essay with the Nikkor 60mm, 105mm and a Snoot

Text and Photos By Dan Kurz

 

D7100 underwater photo of rhinopia

 

 
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The Nikon D7100 is one of the best camaras for underwater photography. These pictures were taken in September 2014 on a liveaboard trip through the Komodo - Alor region of Indonesia.

The voyage began in Labuanbajo, where Komodo National Park is located, and ended in Maumere. This itinerary allowed us to dive some of Komodo's best sites. Castle Rock, when it is on (as it was for us), features large schools of colorful fusiliers and all the larger fish that would like them for lunch. We also dove Manta Alley and Horseshoe Bay, which includes the night dive at torpedo Alley and can have more weird night creatures than you can imagine.

After leaving the Komodo area we headed to Alor, which has incredible biodiversity and features the Valley of the Clowns at Pura Island. The Valley of the Clowns is several kilometers packed with all varieties of anemones covering almost every inch of the site - it's truly amazing. The trip had it all: muck diving, wall dives and corals.

 

Komodo & Alor Underwater

 

D7100 underwater photo of ghost pipefish

My dive guide Wawan spotted this Juvenile Ornate Pipefish swirling around in the water a meter or two off the bottom. It appeared trasparent to the eye. I followed it carefully through the lens until I was fortunate enough to get in a few shots before it disappeared into the darkness.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 

D7100 underwater photo of clownfish eggs

Clownfish Egg Detail. I have been avidly looking at the behavior of clownfish, watching to see if they are ducking behind the edges of their Anemone hosts. They do this when they have eggs in order to oxygenate them every few minutes. When new, the eggs are very small and look like a colorful bit of growth on the surface of the rock that the anemone is living on. As they get larger, they become a bed of cleat pods with eyes. The eggs in this photo are developed enough that many were already gone, and in those that remain you can see the juvenile fish.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F25, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of clownfish

Clownfish tends to its eggs.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F18, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of clownfish with isopod in mouth

Clownfish with Isopod in Mouth. In observing the activity of clownfish, I noticed that many of them give a bit of a yawn. If you look closely you can see that they have isopods living in their mouths. This clownfish has two! This shot required lots of time and patience, as the fish had to both look at me and yawn.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of damselfish eggs

Damselfish Eggs. I find these often on the base of coral whips on wall dives.

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of frogfish

Frogfish shot with Reefnet Snoot. This warty Frogfish was perfect for lighting with the snoot. When they are not moving you have the time to adjust the lighting exactly the way you want it.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F20, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of goby with eggs

Goby with Eggs. The goby eggs are located at the base of sea whips on the side of walls. The goby will be located somewhere on the whip and if you are patient, it will move along to check its eggs.

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of hairy squat lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster shot with Reefnet Snoot. These are fairly easy to find on barrel sponges and you almost always have to have a dive guide convince them to come forward for their picture. I found it was easier to bring the light to them by using the snoot.

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of jellyfish

One of thousands of jellyfish floating on the surface on night. When we surfaced on our last dive of the trip, the surface was covered with waht looked like pieces of brown bamboo. As they were bobbing in the waves I took a quick picture just to see what they were.

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F29, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of pygmy seahorse

Denise's pygmy seahorse shot with Reefnet Snoot. Very tiny and only visible to dive guides!

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of pygmy seahorse backlit

Backlit Pygmy. This is the same pygmy as above. I thought it might be interesting to shoot it with a back light - the snoot ended up becoming the "moon."

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F29, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of shrimp on starfish

Shrimp on Starfish shot with Reefnet Snoot.  We found a pair of Commensal Shrimp living under this blue Starfish and created the spotlight with the snoot.

Nikon D7100, 105mm Lens. ISO 100, F29, 1/320

 
 

D7100 underwater photo of squid at night

Squid in Space (stars are backscatter from the strobes). Near the surface on a night dive the squid are always attracked to our lights and this one stopped long enough for a photograph.

Nikon D7100, 60mm Lens. ISO 100, F22, 1/320

 
 

Book Your Trip to Komodo and Alor

Contact the team at Bluewater Travel for the best pricing, service and advice in booking your liveaboard trip to Komodo and/or Alor, Indonesia.

 

Further Reading

 

 

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.

 


 

 
 
SHARE THIS STORY

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.

 


Photos and Insight into World-Class Macro Photography in Ambon, Indonesia
By Mike Bartick

Critters in Ambon Photo Essay

Mike Bartick
Photos and Insight into World-Class Macro Photography in Ambon, Indonesia

The secret to diving in Ambon is simply diving in Ambon.

The Maluku (Mah-loo-koo) Islands are sandwiched between Sulawesi and Western Papua in the country of Indonesia. Historically the islands played a major roll in the worldwide spice trade, earning them the nickname the “Spice Islands”. Today, Maluku and Ambon are well known throughout the underwater photography community as a prime destination for critter hunting.

Ambon has very few dive resorts and even less people diving there at any given time of the year. The best resort on the Island is definitely Maluku Divers. What makes the diving so special at Maluku Divers is true to the resorts motto, “Critters without the crowds” as most days you won’t see anyone else in the area outside of your dive group or other divers from the resort. The owners recently upped their game by securing a new management team then added some of the best guides in the area that are sure to impress even the most demanding critterhead.

 

 

The critters in Ambon change seasonally but it remains a reliable destination for rhinopias, unusual nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, ornate crustaceans such as harlequin shrimp, tiger shrimp and hairy shrimp and of course the possibility of seeing the now famous, Ambon frogfish.

Ambon fits the bill as an “exotic” destination but does so while remaining quite easy to get to from anywhere in the world. Most days are calm, quiet and diving is priority number one!

 

Ambon Underwater Macro Photos

 

Commensal shrimp seem to be very common here and can be found on many variety of nudibranchs, sea cucumbers and other organisms. This giant plurobranch had 2 Emperor shrimps (Pereclemenis emperador) living on it keeping its gills clean and tidy and although they were quite active I was still able to catch one with pink headlights.

 

 

The Nudi (Miamira tenua) are often found with commensal shrimp living on them. The smaller shrimp on this large nudi exaggerated the scale a bit when I first looked at it. After watching for a few minutes I carefully tried to get myself below the nudi as much as could to really force the perspective and even though both subjects remain small, it looks quite large.

 

 

I love shooting fish behavior at cleaning stations with my 105mm lens. The 105 is an easy choice because it enables me to gain some reach on my subject and its ability to capture tack sharp images. While I was watching these ring-tailed cardinalfish (Apogon aureus), I noticed that several of them had a little hitch hiker attached to them. The Isopod parasites are normally cleaned off when they are smaller either by a cleaner wrasse or shrimp. Somehow, these poor cardinal fish seemed to have missed the bell as these parasites are reaching a perilous size. 

 

 

Short haired A.striatus were well represented during our short one week stay in Ambon. Finding subjects like these is always cool, but capturing their behavior is even better. Using its lure to draw in its prey, the hairy frogfish exerts very little energy when it hunts and can go a very long time between meals. 

 

 

This set of Harlequin Shrimps surprised me because the smaller of the two was so vibrant in color. Most that I have seen this small have remained pale in color and difficult to photograph. Using my Aquako #3 magnifier, I concentrated on the smaller subject as I felt it was more unique in this image.

 

 

Watching this very small Nudi (Pectenodoris trilineata), I realized I could actually see the eggs coming out of it as it was laying them.

 

 

A lovely and very small nudibranch known as the (Sagaminopteron sp) has only one forward sensory organ, and when it wants to move it will often flutter its skirt and fly through the water like a pelagic butterfly.

 

 

I love searching the soft corals for snapping shrimp and other gems like this common soft coral ghost goby (Pleurosicya blodinghi). Small and pale, well hidden between the smaller branching polyps of the coral.

 

 

The loud, low pitched grunting sound of my guide Ali alerted me to something that must be good. As I swam towards him I saw the telltale glow of the infamous local Yellow Rhino (Rhinopias frondosa). The Rhinos are an ambush predator that mimics an injured fish when they move across the substrate with a clumsy yet effective crawl. Unsuspecting prey that move in to investigate are overwhelmed by the speed and powerful strike of the Rhino, seemingly without warning. Once the unsuspecting fish is within range, they rarely make it out alive. Using my Subsee Snoot, I tried to frame the facial features of the Rhinopias to highlight the intricate features and to create some negative space behind it for contrast.

 

 

Wait for it! The Rhinopias (Rhinopia eschmeryi) is a lovely and regal beast that has earned its seat as the ultimate holy grail critter find anywhere. They come in many colors, but all share a few key traits that make them so darn interesting. Nicknamed the paddle-flap scorpionfish for their large bushy eyebrows, the eschmeryi’s paddleflaps hide their eyes from predators above. The lightning fast gape strike of its extensive and expansive jaw is an impressive show and always worth waiting for.

 

Photo Tip

To shoot a photo series as a Rhinopia yawns, try increasing your ISO and decreasing your strobe power. Remember, you might only get one or two well-lit images, so use the strobe dumps wisely or spray and pray. Either way, wait for it!

 

Special Thanks to Maluku Divers:

 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Bartick is an avid and experienced scuba diver and Marine Wildlife Photographer. He has an insatiable love for nudibranchs, frogfish and other underwater critters, and is the official critter expert for the Underwater Photography Guide. Mike is also one of the UWPG trip leaders. See more of his work at www.saltwaterphoto.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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