Photo Essay

Photo essays from top underwater photographers and dive travel destinations, including behind-the-scenes insight, photo tips and best camera settings.
See what animals and critters have made great photo subjects for 2016 so far at Reunion Island deep in the Indian Ocean
By Gaby Barathieu

Dispatch from Reunion Island

Gaby Barathieu
See what animals and critters have made great photo subjects for 2016 so far at Reunion Island deep in the Indian Ocean

The latest installment of our Dispatch photo essay series comes from photographer Gaby Barathieu, who shoots frequently from his home on Reunion Island.

The diving at Réunion Island is always full of rich animal encounters, making it a great destination for underwater photographers. 2016 has shown us many great photo opportunities so far, and the hardest choice has been whether to shoot macro or wide-angle!

The water is exceptionally clear at Réunion right now, and the 29 degree (84F) water temperature is a real pleasure to dive. Every dive has been full of beautiful encounters, and yes, it is a true drug. As proof, here are 4 pictures from my last 3 dives.

 

Réunion Island Underwater Photos

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gaby Barathieu is a passionate underwater photographer based on Reunion Island. He and photographer Yann Oulia run the Reunion Underwater Photography website and Facebook page, sharing the incredible diving and wildlife encounters in the waters near their home. View their photography at www.RUP.re or on their 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 new photos and trendy critters from Anilao resident and pro photographer Mike Bartick, including insight into capturing each image
By Mike Bartick

Dispatch from Anilao

Mike Bartick
An inside look at new photos and trendy critters from Anilao resident and pro photographer Mike Bartick, including insight into capturing each image

In Anilao, the ever-changing seasonal cycle slightly resembles the changes seen on land. Each of the dive sites comes back to life after the rainy season, bringing with it a certain cast of characters to find and photograph. Water temperature and life cycles come into play with the timing of certain subjects, but for the most part the pool is open for exploring. Here's what we have been seeing and photographing over the last several weeks.

Editor's note: Mike Bartick is the resident photo pro at Crystal Blue Resort, spending much of the year closely observing and photographing critters in Anilao.

Mike's gear:  Nikon D7100, Sea&Sea D7100 housing, Sea&Sea YS-D2 and Inon Z240 strobes.

 

January brings cooler waters, which helps the corals and sponges to re-vitalize. Many of the oddball nudis show up to eat, meet and mate. Im using a snoot to isolate this Ceratosoma nudi from the rocks directly behind it.

Learn more about underwater snoots

 

Empty dive sites means long bottom times with your subjects. Fang blennys can become quite aggressive when they are protecting their eggs flashing their fangs as a warning sign. Relax.. I get it bro!!

This happens quickly, so wait, anticipate and nail it!

 

These tiny Nembrothas live on the tunicates growing right out of the sand. The tunicates slightly resemble mushrooms and each solitary unit is comprised of thousands of individual tunicate organisms. These nudis can be as small as a grain of rice living on the stock of the tunicates.

 

Snapping shrimp are easier to see on a night dive. They live in the base of vase sponges and will venture towards the opening after dark to feed on an opportune meal. Using an indirect light source, try back and side lighting the sponge as this will help you to get the shot, direct lighting is nearly impossible.

 

I love shooting gobies. They are without a doubt one of my favorite and diverse fish to photograph. One thing you will notice about them is that they do a little barking movement like a small dog. In fact, they tend to remind me of the yappy-yorkie on a dive site. Its not too uncommon to see a goby act like it's barking or exhibit the yawn-like movement. Having observed this in almost all other fish, I'm convinced that it is a sign of defensive posturing.

Shooting at a very wide open Fstop and nearness to your subject will have dramatic effects on the bokeh that can be created with your lens (read my article Macro Wide Open). When you use the right lighting, common subjects can become uncommon images.

 

 

 

Season Bonus - One of the things I loved the most when I first came to Anilao remains the same today: discovering new or unusual subjects. In fact, this is what Anilao is all about to me. Exploring with the guides to find the special subject like this denise pygmy (Hippocampus denise) seahorse. Perhaps only 2 centimeters, I used my Nikkor 105mm lens and Nauticam SMC magnifier to shoot the image. I think this is the first one ever seen in Anilao but who knows?

 

Motivated? Now get out here and have an adventure!

 

Join us in Anilao!

UWPG is running two intensive photo workshops at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao this April/May. Join us for some of the best macro diving in the world!  Workshops are hosted by Bluewater Photo owner Scott Gietler, UWPG Editor Brent Durand and Mike Bartick. Only a few spots left.

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.

 


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.

 

 

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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!

 


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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 Brent Durand (text), Various (photos)

Anilao Workshop Photo Essay

Brent Durand (text), Various (photos)
Guest Photos, Workshop Report, Critters of the Season and More

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.

 


 

Join us for our Anilao underwater photo workshops!

April 21 - May 1, 2016

May 1 - May 11, 2016

Learn more

 


 

 

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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