Word and Image



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Snapshots and photographs differ in what you see. Either you take in the whole scene to memorialize your presence in this spot at this time. Or you draw the viewer by engaging him in a detail. This gate is like a poem. There are many unstated explanations. Take what you will. I did not go through the open gate though it beckoned. I was in Boothbay Harbor. You shoot the harbor and the water and the lobster boats…it helps to look a bit further.


IMG_8632It is dive time. Carol complained gently a year or so ago that she was waterlogged. I quickly switched to fall leaves. But right now I just completed fourteen dives in about five days and each day was pretty amazing. So you will have to put up with the fishies…until Carol complains again. This large fish was part of a group that hung out in this area of the reef for a couple days. They moved slowly and majestically.

What excites a photo diver? Unusual subjects – if you don’t see this fish often. Clear water – you need to keep backscatter to a minimum. And a head on shot is preferred. The side shot is like catalog shooting. Most fish do not like a camera pointing at them. And the fish certainly object to some big thing blowing bubbles approaching. So it is hard to get that head shot.

This was a big fish and not too intimidated. I settled for what he let me have.



_DSC1462 copyShots like this are easy to see along the Maine coast. All the elements are in place lobster boat, lobster traps, and some fog. The muted light casts a mood of peace. Having been to this spot in the past I successfully returned to catch the mood in different light. It works.

Thorny Ray

IMG_7846So if you were along for the rescue lesson yesterday, here’s what we saw. I almost swam in on the surface to allow Farid to have a good dive. Bu we agreed not to separate so we shared air. It was a bit restricting and I did not expect many photo ops.

Farid has the instinct of a hunter. We came over the rise of some coral to see a giant thorny ray settling into the sand before us. As usual I did not see it at first until the sand settled. Crank up the tele – I got some shots. It was an unexpected bonus to our unintended rescue dive. I was attached to Farid by the octopus. I couldn’t approach! The ray was settled and posing. It is the only ray of this type we have seen in almost three years diving. Farid held steady and I got my shots till the ray moved onward.


Rescue Diver

IMG_7849Farid and I were recently qualified as rescue divers. So we ended up rescuing each other on the first dive afterward. The image shows me with a yellow regulator. You do not want to be in a picture with the yellow regulator in your mouth. This is the typical color of the spare regulator called the octopus. I would not be using it unless there was a problem with my air supply.

Yes I just got my rescue diver card. With two more merit badges I will be a master diver. It is the highest designation you can get as a recreational diver. Okay no big deal. The next would be instructor, which becomes a serious expense and also it is a serious responsibility. Too many stories are told and I have seen students panic. I see enough stress in my day job.

Farid and I got cute. We wanted to maximize scenery so we swam out on the surface about a tank’s worth of air. Murphy’s law struck. The ‘O’ ring on my tank failed. We shut down the tank but now had to share air. It got us back about ¾ way and then we surfaced to swim in. It was tricky to share air over such a long distance and to rise and dive. It was also harder to blow up my BCD in order to float. Normally there is air to do it in the tank. But mine was off. We got back safe. We followed the first rule. Don’t panic.

Potland Bug Light

_DSC1332 copyI’m spinning my archive. The good thing about living in Maine for a while is that you got to visit lighthouses in inclement weather. Fog is always a hard subject. The other element is the light itself. Then to blend soft light and focused detail is harder yet. I let the camera figure out the exposure. I just fixed the compositional elements. In that instant I got the shot I wanted. It’s good.


IMG_7721There are variation and different names. The general category of these fish consists of bottom dwellers who lie in wait for prey. They are camouflaged well. Their prey are unsuspecting fish going by. This odd color teal is a first for me. It is pretty, but he kind of stands out. When he swims the underside of his fins are bright orange and yellow. To make sense of the shot, you look for the eyes and the mouth. Of course don’t get close. They are said to be very poisonous.


IMG_7686Give a boy a stick… at Christmas the kids had some dive sticks we used in our dive exploration. Farid inherited one after they left. He likes to poke things that otherwise would be left alone. As we passed a hole in the coral he trapped this one and then grabbed it by the tail. It was not a puffer. I discovered when he handed it to me, it was a trunkfish. The under skeleton is series of hard plates. I took the opportunity to get a head on close up. No fish swims into my camera lens to get their close up. But my captive audience was happy to comply in return for a quick release.

Collector Urchin

IMG_7784The book calls it that. It is said that it collects pieces of coral to provide camouflage. I’ve only seen it once before on a night dive. This one was about five feet from the stairs to enter the sea. Sometimes things are no further than a step away. We see things in close to the entrance when you take the time to look all around.

Sea Cucumber

IMG_7647Some encounters are as close as the stairway to enter the water. This sea cucumber was stuck up right on the wall opposite the stairs three feet away. The waters are rocking from the waves so it was hard to hold the camera steady enough for a shot. I didn’t bother to compose or focus. Let it all be on auto focus, auto exposure. Just aim in the general direction and repeat until you get a shot. Most people would never look close to the dive entrance for a good shot. It was a friend who spotted it for me.


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