I had the good fortune to dive with some serious underwater photographers. If the equipment is an indicator, they used some very costly stuff. The DSLR body, lens, close up lens, lights, modeling light, monster pod, waterproof case with air leak indicator… well it’s enough to make me feel completely inadequate. Say it must be about $10k worth of gear. Seawater is unforgiving. I have fried two cameras in the past. Fortunately it was not expensive gear. But it hurt to lose a camera. Well I was on a reef safari with four photographers, one with video, and all with external strobes. For a gearhead comparison think Volkswagen compared to Porsche. I had the VW. This group had varying tastes in subject matter. Some things I never pass by and I always photograph, seemed not to interest them.
So it was with interest as one found an anemone floating free at about 80 feet. Color is an issue at this depth. Red is almost gone. A flash would definitely help. I didn’t use one – just white balanced and let my camera go on autopilot. And so there were four photographers clustered around this fairly nondescript subject. It must be special but I have no real frame of reference. I hung on the edges having taken my shots. Then I decided that the quintessential shot here would be the gear in play. I sure don’t do any set up this complicated in life on the land. Trust me this is some seriously expensive gear. I will admit to being strictly amateur. I have a different level of interest here.
The parrotfish on the reef during the day is a hard fish to photograph. It is always aware and swimming away from me. I was surprised to find this one in the coral crevice and seemingly sleeping. Then someone told me that it weaves a bubble around itself. If anything touches it, the fish will awake and swim away. I don’t know but I am sleepy before I am fully alert upon waking. I don’t see any bubble.
This pink color is not commonly seen. They don’t move but contract in an instant until danger passes. So you sneak up on it and if you are lucky it will let you get in a couple shots. I get the idea of a feather duster. But a worm?
This little fish is another one that is uncommon to see. I sneak upon it and sometimes I get a shot. So far I have had more luck with this guy. He will pause for a close up. But as with most fish they don’t like cameras pointed at them.
This trunkfish is another shy denizen of the reef. I swim up on them and then have to chase as they dart in and out of the coral. Invariably I am with a buddy who is moving onward. So it is only for second that I can try for a shot. You wait and wait but it is often just fortuitous. I have learned patience. Eventually you get a fish that will cooperate.
At the tail end of the dive, I am following a very good and patient photographer. She pushed her big rig into place and took some shots. She moved and pointed. It was an empty discarded bottle – trash. She kept pointing. My kids make fun of the fact that I don’t see so well anymore. I see fine. But in the water there’s always some backscatter and the mask lens has some distortion. So I did what I needed. I aimed the camera in the direction of the bottle and hoped for the best. Later I found out it was the bottle I was to shoot. I never did find that spot again. But this shot is an example of blind luck. Maybe the kids are right after all.
I found this one. I was following my dive buddy to shallower water. The long antennae are the tipoff. They reflect the flashlight. You may shoot a series and only one shot will do. Fortunately the shrimp was cooperative and I got this with the claws open.
This is a very hard coral to see. It resides deep and underneath ledges so that getting a shot is a technical challenge. You keep looking into the crevices and sometimes your camera can fit. It’s a nice shot anytime you can see it.
Another day another night dive. Right as we dropped to the bottom there on a coral outcropping was a starfish. This is an unexpected pose. Maybe it was settling into place. I shot quickly because my buddy was headed to 100 feet and I was behind. Never leave your wingman.