I have finally gotten around to creating a short Show Reel of some of my more memorable video encounters from over the years. This showcase features imagery from Yap, Lembeh Strait, Bali, Komodo, and Raja Ampat among others. This film is edited to show just a few highlights of interesting behaviour but no long or intensive coverage of any one animal.
Enjoy the video and feel free to share with your friends but please don’t edit or use the footage in any commercial venture without prior permission.
Raja Ampat! It’s the location that I consider to have the best diving in Indonesia. The marine life here simply thrives due to the sheer size of the area, along with a small human population and a long running successful protection program. What this means to divers is the opportunity to experience one of the healthiest and most diverse reef systems on the planet. I am fortunate enough that I typically spend 2-3 months per year diving in Raja Ampat aboard different vessels exploring areas far from where other boats typically venture. Of course, I also spend a lot of time at the popular spots as well, after all, these spots are popular for a reason! However, “popular” in Raja Ampat does not mean 15 boats on a site like in other areas of the world. Due to the amount of great sites so close to one another and the fact that boats communicate with one another, it’s rare to run into another set of divers underwater in Raja (except at Manta Sandy!). Of course the marine life is also a major reason for my love of the area: mantas, beautiful and healthy coral gardens, endless amounts of colourful soft corals, loads of schooling fish, cool critters such as pygmy seahorses and wobbegong sharks, and did I mention mantas?
It’s for these reasons that I always look forward to going back to Raja. But there is only so much that words can do, instead, have a look at the photos and video instead to see what I mean.
I will once again be heading to Raja Ampat aboard a great boat in 2017, the Mermaid II will be our home on an 8 night trip from 19-27 March 2017 departing and returning to Sorong. If you would like full information about this trip, including pricing, please let me know and I will be happy to send it to you. The best way to get a hold of me is at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tuamotu Island chain, in French Polynesia, is one of the best locations on the planet to enjoy close up, pulsating action with a large variety of different shark species. Grey reef, black tip reef, silver tip, tiger, sandbar, lemon, silky, white tip reef, and oceanic blacktip are a few of the species I encountered there during my two years of working on the Tahiti Aggressor. However, my all time favourite shark to find was the elusive Great Hammerhead, a truly awe inspiring beast of a species. The best location in which to find these incredible animals was in Tiputa Pass at the island of Rangiroa. From the months of Dec – March, large groups of eagle rays would gather together in the pass for mating purposes, which always drew in the local population of hammerheads looking for a tasty snack. As luck would have it, we had a week of “down time” with no guests on the boat during the full moon of January one year, the perfect time of the month to encounter the eagle rays, and hopefully a hammerhead! Between painting and other repairs, we snuck in a few sneaky dives throughout the week when the tides were perfect. On this particular occasion, I dropped into the mouth of the pass and drifted in to the channel keeping a close look downward for the tell tale sign of a large group of eagle rays. Sure enough, it didn’t take me long to spot the eagle rays and lo and behold, an absolutely gigantic hammerhead cruising directly behind them! Knowing an opportunity when I saw one, I silently descended to the bottom and slowly made my way toward the oncoming hammerhead. As I had encountered these shy beasts before, I knew that I would only get one or two shots off before it bolted off into the deep. As the hammerhead and I quickly got closer and closer, I had to continually fight the urge to press the shutter button and allow it to fill the frame as much as possible. Finally, I could control the urge no longer and I had to press the button before my bubbles scared the shark away, and sure enough, this is the only shot I was able to get of the shark facing toward me because as I expected: Boom!, off went the shark as soon as I took the photo. It certainly goes to show that a 4-5 metre shark with the muscle mass of a prized bull is not the menacing eating machine that the media makes them out to be, but rather a relatively timid creature that spooks rather easily!
Nikon F90x, Ikelite housing, 18-35mm lens at 35mm, Provia 100 film, settings not recorded
(Note the eagle ray behind the shark)
The Underwater Tribe visited Raja Ampat a few weeks ago and enjoyed one heck of a great trip! We chartered the smaller vessel Antares all to ourselves in order to pick and choose the dive sites that we wanted to go to, when we wanted to go! It was a very relaxed and chilled trip with just a few dives per day, but the whole trip was very productive photographically. As you will see when you watch this video, we encountered some incredible moments with manta rays throughout the week, both oceanic and reef varieties. Enough with the chatter, please watch the video to see the highlights, if you are interested in joining us on our next trip to Raja Ampat please consider joining us on the Mermaid II vessel in March 2017, more information at Raja Ampat 2017 with the Underwater Tribe.
This photo appeared on the cover of Asian Diver magazine back in 2005. As often happens with photos that get published, it was a last minute addition to a series of photos I presented to the Art Director who instantly knew this was the photo she wanted due to the myriad of colours that fill the frame. The main subject of the photograph is a juvenile trumpet fish that was hiding in a crinoid that was nestled within a sea fan on the dive site Yap Caverns in Yap, Micronesia. The idea behind this photo was to capture a bright blue background while shooting a small subject with a macro lens. The key element was finding a subject that allowed me to get below and shoot up, in this case the trumpet fish in a sea fan was a perfect opportunity. Not many dive magazine at that time published macro photographs on the cover, this was my first “macro” cover, and I believe it was the blue background that really stood out to the Art Director.
Nikon D70, 105mm lens at f16, 1/60, iso 200 2 x Sea and Sea YS 120 Strobes
My first time diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali was in 2006 during a photo workshop I was conducting with Tim Rock at Scuba Seraya. During my very first dive on the wreck, I swam the length of the wreck scanning the site for the best photo opportunities. Once I reached the midship area, with the open cargo hold, I kept it in my mind as being one of the best “photo ops” of the wreck as it certainly offered a real feel of being in a proper shipwreck as opposed to only the colourful soft corals which are plentiful on the Liberty. Being ever the opportunist, I immediately decided that I wanted to incorporate photos of this scene into the photo workshop that we were teaching. Therefore, for the rest of the week I worked with each of the participants to set up this same shot again and again with very positive results for everyone who took the shot. Although it looks like a simple shot, the difference in brightness inside and outside of the hold does make it a great learning process for new photographers to work out the intricacies of shooting natural light photography and silhouettes.
For anyone who has taken a photo class with me in Bali since then, you will most likely recognize the photo. Knowing a good learning experience when I found it, I continue to utilize this scene in all of the photo classes that we teach in Tulamben to this day and I am sure will continue to do so far into the future.
If you are diving with us here in Bali, let us know if you would like to try your hand at this photo opportunity, we are always happy to model for you!
Thanks to Sofie for being the model in this photograph with the Liberty Wreck
It has taken some time but I have finally edited down my video clips from the Underwater Tribe Raja Ampat trip aboard the Mermaid II liveaboard in March 2015. As expected, the Raja area delivered some amazing diving for our group of explorers and the Misool area was especially abundant with clear water and plenty of fish. If you would like to read a brief trip report on our 2015 adventures then please head on over to our Trip Report from March. If you are interested in joining us on a trip of a lifetime to Raja Ampat we have booked the Mermaid II for the same moon phase at the same time of year in 2017 and we still have spaces available, please check out the 2017 trip page here: Underwater Tribe Raja Ampat 2017
Well well well.. its a great month for me here in Bali, I have now finally graduated to somewhat of a modern internet! Fibre optic internet!
For years, I have struggled with internet speeds and this has always been a source of much frustration for me trying to upload high resolution photos, upload videos, watch any videos online or any other rather mundane tasks that most people (not my friends in Palau mind you..) pretty much take for granted. When I lived in Yap I believe we had 128 kbps, once I made it to Lembeh I was up to 256, then until last week here in Bali I had 512kbps (all of which were expensive and satellite based). However, Telkom Indihome Fibre Optic Internet has now been released here in Bali and it finally reached my area and I now boast a booming 10mbps! Last week I was FTPing uploads at 8 to 15 kbps, needless to say, a 200mb video file would take a very long time! Today, I am now uploading at 100 kbps, now I can even utilize the Cloud to backup my images.. That is reassuring.
(no comments from you fast internet people ruining my day 😛 )
Filter photography has really come into it’s own with the advent of digital photography and the ability to white balance underwater. Although it has been used for a long time with digital video underwater, red filters and white balancing did not really become popular with still photographers until the early to mid 2000s. The use of a filter underwater allows the photographer to filter out some of the nasty blues and greens that dominate the colour spectrum deeper than 10 feet and bring back a warm colour balance along with a lot of contrast and typically a beautiful blue. Shooting with a Filter of any sort is actually quite easy, here are a few tips to get you started:
Don’t Use Strobes – to get the most from a filter it’s best to use with natural light only
Stay Shallow – as the shot will be illuminated with natural light, the best results are typically from 15 m (50ft) or shallower
Keep the Sun Behind You – the key to illuminating the subject properly and getting the best colour is to have the sun helping
Shoot Slightly Down- although this sounds like the opposite of what is drilled into new photographers (Shoot UP!) in natural light or filter photography shooting on a slightly downward angle helps
Use manual white balance and re set it prior to shooting each new subject
Concentrate on using a wide angle lens, this will provide the best potential for filters. Macro is best shot with strobes
That’s it! Now it’s just a case of getting your hands on some filters and a nice shallow dive site. Our friends over at Magic Filters provide the best and largest range of filters for underwater photographers so head on over to their website to have a look at their products.
500px is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr or any other number of photo sharing sites out there but it does offer something of a twist. For photographers who are interested in selling some of their images via “royalty free”, 500px offers a 70% commission to the photographer for any and all sales using their 500px Prime platform. Also, 500px is a great site to have a look at some incredible photos from all sorts of different photographic genres. I now put a lot of my “seconds” on this site in order promote and hopefully make a few $$ in income along the way.