In all the night dives over the past three seasons, I had yet to encounter a Spanish dancer. It is a mollusk. I have seen a picture on a poster at the dive center. But it was a goal of mine to finally see and photograph one myself. So on this night which started so slowly, Farid suddenly began swinging his light wildly to make me stop and join him. I have to admit he finds some of the best wildlife.
I had to check my book later. But, yes, it’s a Spanish dancer! And yes we played with it. Lifting it above the sea floor it flapped and wiggled down to the sand again. I guess that’s why they call it a dancer. Or otherwise it is the skirtlike edge which reminds you of a Spanish dancer’s skirt. Either way this was pretty thrilling.
What I learned is that you never give up on a dive. Something turns up to make it special. And with all my familiarity with the reef, there is always something I haven’t seen.
This is a shot I have staged before. The kids taught it to me. Julia did it first in Africa and then lately David did it at Waba Crater in Saudi. David’s refinement is to make it look as though you have nothing beneath you but a sheer drop. I admit I am lazy and don’t want to do much post processing. And then there is the photographer. My travel buddy is not fond of heights. So Colleen was not a candidate to jump. She was nervous (eyes closed, hands shaking) about me close to the edge. But someone had to jump and someone had to press the shutter. The other thing I learned from the kids is to bend your knees. Then, even an old man looks like he can jump.
The octopus tried camouflage, then it ran, and finally a squirt of ink. I had been surprised by ink before so I was prepared to keep an eye on the octopus’s movement. No we weren’t there to eat it. So after I got my shots we retreated and the octopus swam away free of our encounter.It’s hard to ever see an octopus in the open. I have seen just parts of their bodies. Then, recently, I had the luck to see them frequently and even during a night dive. There are enough in the ocean to fill seafood stores and restaurant menus. I still find an octopus encounter a rare event when diving. And now I am getting some shots with tentacles. Great!
I’m not a great one to embrace change. Then again things change around me constantly. Our primary residence was sold recently. I have no known address nor a hardline phone. Well it’s not that extreme…. Following up on yesterday’s post, I wrote about my Nikon D200 camera. It was new at the time of yesterday’s image. And now I have upgraded to the Nikon D610. Images are posted here. Drat! A week later Nikon announced the D750. Last time around Nikon announced the D300 about a week after I got the D200. I mean, come on!! They just released the D610 didn’t they?. And I got a spiffy fast lens in the FX 24-70mm zoom. The first events were the Indian Powwow in Southampton and the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. I wish I could say there was a standout image right away. But no, there were many images, too many to really say there is one quintessential image. Nowadays I use several cameras, all for different reasons. Point and shoot Canon G12 and S100 as well as iPhone images are mixed in. What I can say is that I shot eleven thousand images in the first month with the Nikon D610. New lens, new camera, I have been getting very nice shots and have certainly using the new equipment.
I recall this photograph. It’s a life lesson. The circumstance – on my way to see the puffins in God only know where, Maine. I had just purchased a brand new spiffy Nikon D200. It was the first event. I had to go from Lewiston to Cutler to pick up the ferry to the puffin island. I calculated a start out time of 3AM to get to the ferry by 6:30AM. It meant zipping up to Bangor on I-95. You can drive fast at that hour. Right off the exit ramp in Bangor I was stopped for speeding. Out of the complete darkness, the flashing patrol car lights caught me. When I told the fireplug short female state trooper I was headed to see the puffins, she ran my plates and then let me go with a warning. A nutcase from NY going to see birds shouldn’t receive a penalty if he’s already nuts. I have now driven to try to see the puffins three times. This time and the next were a complete bust. I saw better pictures in the travel brochure than I got with my new camera. We never got close enough but to see a dot on the water or in the sky.
After Bangor the road is smaller and winds eastward toward the coast. I was tooling along at as fast a pace as the deserted road would allow. Meanwhile I was hyper-attentive in anticipation of the birding. At the early glow of dawn I looked out over a fog covered valley as the sun was beginning to rise. Sunrise is rarely a time I am awake unless I am in an OR with an emergency.
I was running late. But I had to stop for this shot. The digital camera compensated for an impossible lighting scene. This was the shot of my day! It happened before my day ever began and I never knew it till much later. In fact it was a shot of significance. Thinking back and looking over many images I have taken before and since, I can make an observation.
Life happens quickly. I’m not the first to comment on this fact. But sometimes a special moment happens and you don’t know it. Later when you have time to pause and rewind the video – I play back some of the events of my life and finally realize how special this moment was. I knew this was a special shot right from the moment I pressed the shutter. But I was rushing to another event I thought was more important. It turned out that the moment of import was before me as the dawn rose over the fog in the valley. Well I was fortunate to preserve the moment to look back upon. My only regret is that I did not stop to realize it had been one of life’s special moments of which we experience so few in our lifetimes. It is not the first time I have done this nor will it be the last. But if I ever recognize such a moment again I hope I will sit back to savor it.
Orange is my autumn color. Okay red is pretty good. And yellow is also. But orange, that deep even pattern is not so easy to just dial up. Many a tree view is obscured by some man made object. So often you crop out the extraneous to get to the best shot. Like many things when you have done all the things on your checklist the image pretty much takes itself.
The Draper wedding was nearby to this town. Something I read about was pumpkin boat races. What? Well the first year… what do you do with prize winning 500 lb pumpkins. Some folks painted them. Someone got the idea to carve them out and make boats and then race. The first year everyone was in the water. No one had a clue how to make an irregular unbalanced shape race let alone float. So the splashing in cold water images were what I was after. No such luck. By now everyone had a year at the drawing board and no one sank. The event drew a nice crowd and a photo op from Susan Collins, US Senator. Goofy way to re-purpose a 500 lb pumpkin.
I’ve been down about 150 times now since starting a database and keeping track. I have seen what there is except that always there is a twist or variation. The photo expert I dove with told me he doesn’t like eels. Well I do like them enough to take advantage of an opportunity. I was over the reef and in a crevice there was a moray stretched out. What was unusual was that he was not inside a hole in the coral but fully exposed. He was quite large. I got my shots and even had a chance to get a nice movie. Every time down you see a variation on what you might have seen before and each time it’s a chance to do it different. So I try.