These guys are tiny. The trick to finding them is to poke around under the coral and shine your light until you see a reflection. It’s the eyes reflecting back the light. Then as you approach, they tend to disappear. So you have to siddle up and hope it doesn’t duck. Did I tell you this is a hard shot?
I’ve seen this trick but never pulled it off myself. And please don’t tell the kids I was annoying the wildlife. Puffer fish get a bright flashlight beam in their face and they don’t move. So I grabbed it. It puffs. It’s not air. I was wondering. No, it’s water. The feel is like sandpaper. He was not hurt. We got some pictures. Night diving is a challenge to get exposure. The fish looked better then I did. Hey! It was my camera. But I didn’t take my own picture.
Spooky. There is a type of diving, which I love. It’s night diving. Fish come out at night when they think danger is less than during the day. These fish were swarming on the bottom. They weren’t headed anywhere. They turned toward the flashlight. So I got a head on view. I can say it was spooky to see them just going nowhere. What were they doing? You never see them during the day. So where do so many fish hide? I have questions. Meanwhile it’s a strange encounter. And if you’re afraid of the dark…
This is a worm. At least the reef guidebook says so. They contract and disappear when danger is about. The worm is on the reef in the shallows. It seems they like the sun. It looks complicated and it surely doesn’t look like it moves. They are seen in different colors. They are tiny and easy to miss. You still have to sneak up on it or it will contract and disappear.
It 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.
There 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.
Some 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.
I swim across these giant clams with regularity. I always take a shot. They aren’t swimming away. But they close up. The key is to get that opening to the left; it’s a mouth or excretory organ. The color varies, blue, brown, and some occasional red tints. I don’t usually see green. The algae are a factor in determining color. Reproduction has been on my mind. The clams are in a fixed location widely separated. This must be quite a challenge. As far as eating, which my father would have certainly considered it. Do the colors affect the taste?
Near the training dive platform is a pale pile of shells. It is easily overlooked unless you know to look specifically. A crustacean has taken up residence. It covers its hole cleverly camouflaging the opening so well you cannot discern the crab waiting for prey. I have not seen the whole creature. I am told it will harm you if you get a finger too close. This boy is not about to be bait. Every once in a while we visit again to get a shot. This day the water was clear and the crab cooperated for its close up. They eyes swivel in different directions and it makes me dizzy. No sneaking up here.
Ghosts, gliding majestically along blithely oblivious to a couple of divers, Farid figured that if we were deep we might see them again. Typically he pointed too late for me to get an image of the first one that practically swam into my face. You can’t speak underwater so his strategy was lost as I followed him to 140 feet. We had just completed our rescue diver certification I was idly wondering if his brain was addled from the depth. Nitrogen narcosis is insidious. He pointed and even with max effort I was not going to get close to this trio. So the silhouette had to suffice until I get a better opportunity. Majestic.
What are the odds of seeing the same fish on different dives? I can’t tell one fish from another of the same species. Hair color, eyes, facial features, weight might be helpful to tell human from human. But I could not tell the difference between fish and that’s okay until I reviewed my images. Since it’s relevant to my surgical specialty I guess it would have to be this particular fish. There’s a bite and it looks as though there’s no brain in there. What do I know about fish brains? But an incomplete craniectomy will grab my attention every time. I actually got a shot of him on two different dives on different days. And I have no answer to the complaint why do you shoot the same fish over and over. It seems that I do sometimes. This fish and I have met at least twice. And I got a head shot both times.
When the kids visited in December I chased a fish like this for quite a way. I never did catch up and get a nice shot. It’s more tail than fish. The proportions are wrong. It didn’t swim faster. It swam just fast enough to avoid me. If I hang around long enough I’ll get a better shot and a better background. This is my current best shot of this fish. It is a rather majestic tail.
Another fortuitous find but it took two tries. On the first dive I had no idea what my buddy was shooting with his big ass macro lens. Did I mention there was some serious glass involved, as in expensive gear? I actually blindly got it with my camera the first time around. On the second dive we were at the end of the dive and O2 was dwindling fast enough that I was glancing at my gauge and deciding what my backup plan would be when the air ran out. But we passed the same coral formation and I got another chance. This is a little fish head no more than ½ inch probably less. Most fish will retreat into their hole. But this guy kept perfectly still and never budged even while another companion stuck his big housing against the very coral next to him. Brave! I moved in next and he was still there! So I got my shots and have leftovers to pick and choose the best. The slight blurring is because I enlarged it for the purposes of the blog post image. Well, now I’ve seen it. There is something to be said for changing dive partners. Everyone sees something differently.
I was without a dive buddy. I can’t/don’t dive alone. Rules! So I fortunately hooked up with three photographers. At least everyone had a camera. The guy with the ‘big rig’ had excellent air management. We were down together for 91 minutes. That’s long. He wasn’t too communicative. Usually it’s courtesy to point out interesting things. He has a major big ‘mother’ macro lens attachment with some expensive glass. After he paused I followed and just stuck the camera up and took an image. Yeah, definitely just blind luck. Some days my mask has not cleared well and all the images look blurred and not white balanced. Some days are better. And sometimes it’s blind luck. No, kids, glasses won’t help. Actually these fish are out and about right now, perhaps because of mating season. I’ve got a better shot somewhere. After all this time in the water I can say I’m beginning to understand symbiotic relationships underwater. This fish and this coral like to stick together, most of the time. The human eye is trained (survival) to detect motion. What my eye can see, often cannot be captured by a camera. This enlarged detail shows a small fish resting before it darts away from my camera.
Moray eels stay in a coral crevice and only poke their heads up. They can be quite large, or rather long. The head has a different color. It took me a while to understand the anatomy. Needless to say you don’t see many morays swimming out in open water. Every dive has its aha moment. Sometimes it’s a stonefish or rarely a squid or even a turtle. So far on this particular dive there hadn’t been much excitement. Oh well… We were done and at the decompression stop. I was floating and waiting for the time to pass. Per usual routine I don’t turn off my camera until I’m out of the water. And today! Yeah, I got this moray. He popped out of the coral and took off. My dive buddy and I were both very surprised. I happened to have the camera at the ready. Great luck!
I once said I shot a moose and someone asked what gun I used. Really!!?? Octopi are shy. They stay hidden and blend with the environment. The human eye is trained to see movement. It’s a protective mechanism to keep alive. Something well camouflaged is easily missed. I’d have missed the octopus otherwise. We, not me, saw it swimming in the open over the coral reef. Off I went swimming as fast I was able. Since the octopus was interested in hiding it soon dropped into the coral. It did not shoot ink as once happened to me. That time it worked as I was startled and the octopus slipped away in a cloud of dark ink. This time I watched the octopus and was shooting away with my camera. The poor thing was unable to decide what camouflage to adapt. I can tell you that the change takes only a few seconds. Yes, they really do change over fast. The natural color is brown. Back in December I watched in horror as someone barehanded executed a captured one. This guy changed back and forth for a while and then found a nice deep hole in the coral. In the image below you can appreciate how well the camouflage can look. The change can occur in the blink of an eye. At one point my gloved hand brushed a tentacle. It was like touching Velcro. I was a bit timid and didn’t touch it again. My camera was working. White balance was good. Focus was sharp. It was great! …about as much fun as you can have with a wet suit on.
I dove at a place I haven’t visited in a while. This blue fish is hard to photograph. I’m usually in a backlight position so the deep blue black fish has no detail. Though they are very common on the reef they are also very camera shy. I might see a school of them or a few. No matter the exposure is usually poor and the fish swim away so the best I get is tail view. It seems there are often exceptions to all rules. I had this guy challenge me. He knew I was there. I was shooting and he wasn’t going to budge and give up his position. I didn’t see any reason for him to guard this piece of reef. But he would circle and circle. So I got the exposure corrected and then I got the head on shot. Head on is the hardest. Nobody swims toward a larger object blowing bubbles and I can imagine how intimidating I must look to these fish.
Do fish blink? Do they have eyelids? Ever think about it? I’ve considered the question in passing. But I never really did look into this issue. I think I have stumbled on an answer. This fish likes to rest on a coral outcrop. I used to get a profile and consider myself lucky. But familiarity has led me to be more bold. So I drift up and try to get a head on view. Not content to shoot a single image – focus, exposure, and a myriad of other variable – I shoot several to try to be sure I have a serviceable image.
Some controversy exists as: fish don’t have eyelids; fish roll their eyes (no eyelids); and why blink when you are immersed in a saline solution. And then there’s the matter of my old dog Nellie. She would blink whenever my flash popped to get a portrait of her. It was uncanny. She always blinked. Soooo….? When I have so many images of fish – thousands and thousands – why oh why are there none that have “blinkies?”
Roll your eyes or blink, it don’t matter, this is the sequence I got head on in an instant. No, no Photoshop. No fish were injured in the making of this series.
So far in my dive experience I’ve come across only one squid for which I have an image. After that I had a wonderful view of three squid swimming in formation below me. I was having early learning difficulty with buoyancy control and couldn’t control my depth to get a shot. Little did I know that it would be rare to see a squid.
Diving season has started. It’s mid May but my posts are backlogged. I actually had about a month off after California – too busy and kind of tired. I was solo. None of the usual dive buddies were available so I hooked up with an instructor. He was instructing so we stayed near the training platform and I goofed around with the camera. Then the student ran out of air, so he went up. And I cruised the reef with the divemaster for about thirty minutes. Right as we were returning, he pointed. I saw one, then two, then about six squid just making their way in open water. They were not camouflaged. And they were swimming away from my bubbles faster than I could catch them. I managed a couple shots and this time my camera didn’t fail.
Did i mention that seeing one squid is rare? So how about six or so I? I kid you not, there were about six swimming about. Indeed, I was very fortunate to get four in a close bunch in one image. Don’t be fooled. They swim much faster than me even with fins on my feet.
As for calimari, I firmly believe that squid should swim about in the ocean and let me take their picture. I don’t need/want to eat them.
Colorful and relatively plentiful – when we dove the Channel Islands, J and I found many of these colorful nudibranch. They are small, no more than an inch long. The water is deceptively cloudy and dark, enough to push the ISO to 1600. We saw them and got a number of shots but few were really good. J got one and I consider it to be the best of the day for this nudibranch. There are red horns and blue horns at the head. She nailed the shot. I’m very happy she shared this with me.
I got the names from the all knowing internet. It wasn’t easy. My search terms for fish of the Channel Islands left me empty. The rose anemone looks like and anemone of the Red Sea except the color is bright red. And it doesn’t seem to have a center. Hmmmm? It also says that this is a bat star. Whatever! What I was looking for was the name of this last animal. It’s a large sea hare. Impressive! I’m used to seeing small nudibranch, about an inch or so. I looked under sea cucumber and sea slug. Nope, nudibranch – large. I hope you appreciate that there were lots of them in the open on the sea floor… so I’m telling you. And then there was this pair. If I had to guess they were bumpin’ and rubbin’ probably means procreating?
Well that’s my guess and I’m sticking with it. That’s different in my book of things I saw that day. Something else I didn’t expect was J playing with the wildlife. I’ve been admonished by the kids often enough that I don’t touch things (except when they’re not looking).
“Wake up and smell the coffee.” I think that here it refers to suddenly realizing that what you were looking at is not the point of the picture. I got a great shot of the urchin, colorful, composed, and there’s a resting fish in the background. That wiry barbed plant life in the foreground and all around are really brittle stars. Never saw one before so I didn’t have a clue… J got the shot and later someone told her about them. (I was still seasick on board.) Me? I never did get a single decent shot. It’s lucky for me that she noticed they were moving unnaturally against the current. Now that I know what I’m looking at, it’s a bit spooky. Credit J on this splendid shot.
One thing everyone tells me is that colorful fish are, for a reason. Maybe fish don’t have the same visual receptive spectrum as me. After all at depths below 30 feet the reds disappear. So like a fire engine red sports car just screams, “Look at me go, give me a ticket!” a bright orange fish would seem like a tasty morsel. No one explained. But I’d pass if I were a predator. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. It’s called a garibaldi.
You can hardly dive in these waters and not see lots of clownfish. They are in symbiosis with the anemone. Each protects the other. The colorful fish are aggressive if you approach the anemone. It’s always worth a shot. Sometimes you don’t see the fish well, there’s to much backscatter, focus is off, and loads of other issues. As time goes by, there is no lack of clownfish images from which to choose. Some are better than others. I just keep waiting for a quintessential image. In my head, I hear my wife’s voice saying, “You have an image, why do you need another?” To which I say, “Because…”