Word and Image

Posts tagged “Technical tips

I Shot What He Shot

IMG_7346I 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. IMG_7478After 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.

Camera Shy

IMG_6514I 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. IMG_6511I 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.IMG_6508

Unfinished Story


A few posts ago, I gave a long rambling recitation of detective work or early dementia. I have been having a recent series of camera mishaps. Briefly, I lost one and then another camera (due to stupidity). I’m usually OCD, but lately…. Well, (don’t ask), I’ve been experimenting. I have decided that, of my two used Canon G12 cameras, that I have tested, the newer is fine and that the older (first) is now having some serious focus issues. I told you Canon service said, “Send the camera, pay $189, and we’ll tell you what’s wrong, fix it, and charge you more as we decide what’s wrong. It’s not a very good deal. I figured to send the first camera in anyway. But the logistics of getting it to and from the US is a problem. Canon has a repair center here in Jeddah. It is not too inspiring. I’ve been there. It shares space as a luggage company. And if they can’t get parts…. I gave it a try. What can you lose? It doesn’t work already. I have the other camera to compare and the broken one is ‘broke.’ IMG_6010

Then for some silly reason, I took an image after I got a hair cut. They say, “Be careful what you wish for.” On one image (and it is reproducible), there is a single line of pixel errors (see vertical line; medial right eyeglasses). It is on the image/sensor. It doesn’t show on every image depending on the subject , but the defect is definitely real. This is a problem for me, especially as it is my primary dive camera. There is a workaround. I use Photoshop and heal the pixel defect – press ‘shift’ and then draw down the repair brush. Voila! The damage I magically repaired. The repair guy said it might be possible to repair this problem also, or maybe not. Or maybe you need a new optical (expensive) system. But if you saw the squid, the newer Canon G12 is sharp! I’m thinking I’ll wait a while. I’d rather have mostly sharply captured images than to introduce another variable. When I finally get all the troubles solved I will be so happy to just worry about technically getting a properly exposed image. Anyway, having a backup plan is always good.


IMG_8235I have to admit that I’m in a quandary. Sometimes you look at something … and then it’s like you really ‘look’ or you just discover you’re seeing it for the first time. I did try to notice when Lisa cut her hair. It’s very annoying even dangerous (for me) when she changes things and I don’t take note.

My Canon G12 was acting a bit funny. Don’t ask; we don’t have enough space here. Canon’s repair website feedback was no help. They just sent back a series of generic answers. No prob, what could they really do? My paranoia is worse because this was purchased as a used camera. The images were soft almost unfocused. It was not consistently bad. But it was noticeable when we rode and saw the Pepsi sign.

IMG_8738The example provided here shows that the center of the image is in focus with definite blurring at the edges. I panicked. This is my primary dive camera. And if it’s broken, I have no way to conveniently or reliably get it repaired or replaced here in Saudi. Then I wondered if I was simply crazy. Was this just a function of the camera and lens? You can also see wide angle distortion at close focus as well. To cut to the chase, I took the G12, S100 and my trusty Nikon D200 to the field – soccer practice with Farid’s kids. I shot comparable images. What I can say: the Nikon has better images. Larger and better glass (lens) appears to win every time. The G12 is okay at the center but it was definitely soft on the edges. My problem is that I am shooting wide angle and close up while diving. Shutter speed is slow and the f stop is wide open, not a good combination. (I did have reasonable shots underwater in California, before I noticed the problem.) The S100 is actually pretty good with reasonable edge to edge sharpness.

Has the Canon G12 been like this all along and is it only now that I noticed the edge blurring?

IMG_8132Solving my problem is not going to be simple or easy. I’m locked into the G12 because I have the underwater housing and don’t really want to upgrade and get (spend for) another housing. So I made a compromise and got another used G12 from a reputable camera store. I’ll try to see whether the first camera is really broken. I can go back to the S100 but the battery life is terrible – too small battery for multiple dives. I don’t want to change batteries and risk getting the camera wet/fried.

And then logistically, this all happened just before I returned to Saudi. Now the trick is getting the newly acquired G12 into my hands in Jeddah. Mail it? A US postal package can take more than a month. And Saudi customs is very much a problem. They x-ray and examine everything for contraband. Things like bibles are illegal and confiscated. I have been told that someone with a magic marker blots out magazine pictures with inappropriate pictures. (Maybe not.) Someone has told me that the customs people may take what they want and a camera is certainly something that can be easily “lost in transit.” Insurance is no consolation. I also had medication renewals that did not arrive before I left. A perusal of the website states that medication cannot be sent without obtaining some certificate from the Saudi government. Good luck. The good old internet is no particular help; there is too much conflicting info.

In a wild/frantic/hopeful series of emails, I tracked down my neighbor Wissam, a neurologist, who had casually mentioned he would be in Pennsylvania this week. Great! I found him! He graciously agreed to carry camera and meds with his hand luggage back to Saudi. David FedEx’ed the package. David did me a big favor to find and go to FedEx just as he was headed out the door on an evening out. We needed delivery the next day. I had to send it to a hotel. I double checked and made sure Wissam was a registered guest and that the hotel would accept a FedEx package in his name. As I write, the final story is not complete but it does look like I’ve got a solution going. I had no past problems with medication coming into Jeddah. I’d hate for Wissam to be in trouble.

Take It Out, Use It

IMG_5285Guilty! There are folks who have expensive cameras, (not too many any longer), who have them stored in that camera bag or camera case until the moment comes for taking that ‘picture.’ Not so many bags any more, but I do see people walking around with lens caps on their camera lenses. In the time it takes to get the camera ready, the ‘moment’ is often gone. Digital has freed us. We don’t have to sparingly conserve film. And the smartphone, iPhone, has made it pretty convenient to shoot an image, and video too. I don’t shoot much video. With all the video I’ve shot, it’s now on DVD’s and no one much looks at them. So I’m comfortably sticking to images.

But my point, IMG_8495Grandpa Bill had some pretty nice camera stuff. And he kept it in pristine condition. The used camera market would list the stuff 9+, almost new condition. And Uncle Pete (Bill’s brother), was the same way. He kept a lot of treasures in pristine condition and well protected. IMG_5282Pete’s old Exakta was given to me in a large leather case along with its accessories. Nowadays film is dead and these old cameras are ‘art.’ It doesn’t make sense to have art and not be able to see it. So they are out now rather than wait for the kids or grand kids to discover the dusty cases. And my old Nikon SLR bodies are out on the shelf collecting dust. I look at them and realize that as I moved up through the Nikon line with better and better camera bodies, I never went back much and shot again with the old bodies. The kids did a few times. It’s kind of like feeling guilty about old girl friends I never stayed in touch with. I do have regrets but the future and history shows I was pushed forward._DSC7274 As for my cameras, DSLR, point and shoots, iTouch, and now iPhone, all are in readiness for action at the ‘drop of the hat.’ I carry one in my pants pocket. I hang a camera on my neck riding a bicycle. I went to Iguazu waterfalls in the pouring rain (umbrella blowing) and soaked myself and my Nikon DSLR. We both survived. I have not been bulletproof and I did fry a couple of Nikons (one film, one digital). Hey, it’s ‘living.’ You can live sheltered and never take a chance, or, you can ‘go for it.’ Everyone has a line where they think they won’t cross, a risk benefit continuum so to speak. Meanwhile all my cameras sit out getting dusty and ready to shoot.

Lunar Eclipse

109-0944_IMGI got this one in digital with the Canon G3. It sure helps when the image can be checked immediately instead of guessing without feedback. Yes, you must use a tripod. And there are all sorts of technical details about night shooting. But the easiest part is in knowing you’ve got something for your efforts. And, no, I did not delete all the other shots. Did I mention that all my digital files are in a hard drive the size of a brick? 109-0919_IMGAnd did I tell you that I currently have about twelve bricks with redundant backups of my image files…and there was only one drive that had my G3 images… these images that I have posted today. Things can sure get confusing sometimes. Susan swears by Carbonite and ‘the cloud.’ I say, what happens if they go away. Companies can fold and your stuff is lost. Of course it also helps if your stuff is stored in multiple sites, which mine isn’t. 108-0891_IMGBack to my topic, mounting your camera to a tripod also allows you to do night shots. Bright lights will actually let you get a decent shot handheld. And I do his all the time when I don’t have a tripod handy. Still…

Old Cameras

IMG_5277No more film… well, yes, if you are persistent. As I have said in the past, my last roll of film was shot on David’s graduation from high school. He recently proctored the SAT at his old school; he was at least ten years older than the test takers. My digital cross over came with the Canon G3, point and shoot. It was fairly advanced and given as a birthday present by Lisa. She did treat me well in those days. Digital was not on my radar at the time. Prices were too expensive and I was too snobbish to use anything but an SLR. The Nikon D70 changed all that. Suddenly there was a DSLR and it was the right price point. The D70 was retired as I shot the US Tennis Open and discovered that the high end Canon DSLR’s were eating Nikon’s lunch. But that is another story covered elsewhere.IMG_5273

The first camera I handled in the ’60′s was an Argus C3, affectionately known as the brick. There are so many still around that the ebay price is as low as $5. No one shoots film, remember? My mother had it and she let me take it to Charleston, West Virginia, when I won the Golden Horseshoe award. Clueless, I shot that camera with a roll of BxW and came away with essentially nothing. Later a Kodak Instamatic 100 allowed me to shoot the tail end of the Worlds Fair in Flushing.IMG_5282

When I made college I was advised by Chi Ming Pang a fellow Merit Student’s Encyclopedia salesman to buy an Exakta even though I lusted for a Nikon F. The Exakta has since been lost when it was stolen from John. But Uncle Pete (Lisa’s) gave me his Exakta. It really is a great camera. Mine was almost exclusively BxW, Tri-X film. After I made my fortune in selling encyclopedias, my father traveled to Hong Kong and with specific orders returned with my Nikon FTn.

Alas this was also stolen at the same time as the Exakta. I was given Bill’s (Grandpa) Nikon F.IMG_5288

He kept it in pristine condition. And a little while (many years) later I was at a flea market and picked up a Nikon FTn. Yeah! I felt restored. The seller threw in the roll of film (undeveloped) in the camera and gave me a view camera for free instead of lowering the price of about $150. Okay!IMG_5284

I’ve been a help to Susan in developing her photo skill. I must say she’s pretty terrific (photographer) right now. I mean to say some of the photos she shares with me are simply great. In appreciation, just before I left for Saudi, she presented me with her Dad’s old Argus. It was very sweet of her.IMG_5276

J’s Nikon D60 sits on the shelf.IMG_5281 She’s gone over to her iPhone and a Canon G12 since she returned from Africa. There’s a Polaroid in the mix somewhere. Mostly I kept to the Nikon line and went F2, F3, and later the F100. The Spartus was a toy camera (plastic) I got from Maggie Sherman. She was a well known photographer, friend of Lila (Grandma), whose houseboat mounted upon a floating barge, was where we (Lisa) were married. She was evicted from her pier mooring and called the Captain of the Intrepid (aircraft carrier) to see if there was room at his pier. Yes, she admits she was clueless about aircraft carriers.IMG_5283

Grandpa had two other treasures. He did work professionally for a short time. He was unsuccessful but did leave some great cameras to me. His pride was a Leica. They’re still valuable on ebay but to me it’s priceless. It’s hidden and not on the shelf.IMG_5285

IMG_5287 Then there is the 5×7 view camera complete with wooden tripod. It had been in the basement storage closet when I discovered it in Grandma’s house. It, too, was pristine. I set it up and it sits in front of Yvonne Chang’s work…both works of art. There’s video new and old as well as some odd point and shoots. Except for the gifts, I used one and all pretty extensively.IMG_8495

I travel pretty lean these days. No film to claim space, but suddenly there are three digital cameras and an underwater housing. I thought things were simpler but it looks like I have not succeeded. Oh, and there’s the iTouch for the emergency image when nothing else is at hand.IMG_5279

NYC Skyline – View From Home

_DSC2800-1 copyI am not a fan of tripods. I have one and use it very infrequently. I suppose I should use it more. However, it does have its moments and uses especially on long night shots. I used a slow tele and long exposure (seconds). Times Square is well lit and colorful. But it is still a challenge to get a properly exposed image. Still, there is a certain charm to a well exposed night shot of the city.

Statue of Liberty

IMG_7157 copyGot this shot? We rode the dinner cruise on World Yacht. One buys tickets and signs on for dinner. The route takes you down the Hudson River past the “Lady.” The challenge is that the boat is moving and the shutter speeds are slow. But you can do it. Just shoot a few extra shots to be sure one comes out sharp. Alternatively you can take the Staten Island ferry for free. Yup, free. And you pass close enough to the Statue of Liberty to get the shot also. You could even bring a sandwich.

Right Place… Right Moment

Patient__2014-02-17-14-54-05-577This is an intraoperative image taken through the operating microscope. The scale of magnification would be to look at your thumbnail and imagine this is the field of view. It’s small and you can’t do this without high magnification and sufficient light. The titanium clip has taken the aneurysm out of the circulation. In the view (right to left) are the optic nerve, carotid artery, clip, aneurysm, and third nerve. We saw the other critical structures necessary to be sure the aneurysm was gone and no vascular compromise had occurred.

Emergencies have a way of occurring at odd times. I was busy on another project and was called by my clinic nurse. One of the clinic nurses, very well known and well regarded by the staff, had collapsed with a sudden ictus. She was immediately resuscitated and taken to the CCU. The diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage from a cerebral aneurysm was made after a series of examinations. She was in coma. Her vital signs were extremely labile with the blood pressure so high as to invite another hemorrhage. The prognosis was grim. Nurses and fellow surgeons expressed concern to me about her condition. While everyone hoovered as a supportive audience no one else could really help me in the decision-making and the surgery. I kept to the plan I formulated as information became known. I facilitated and supervised the diagnostic tests. Two operations were performed. The second was a craniotomy in which the aneurysm was isolated and the cerebral circulation protected. The danger lay in finding out if the aneurysm was so weak after the initial rupture that it would let go again during surgery and the patient could bleed to death in the operating room. The operation turned out well from the technical standpoint. It was performed without any exciting intracranial events. For now prognosis for her eventual recovery from the stroke is unknown. It will be many months before we will see the extent of the recovery.

The collapse occurred in front of medical staff who saved her life by timely resuscitation. Otherwise I doubt she would have survived the initial insult. For that I’m thankful. It was the right place and from that moment the right treatment has at least saved her life. Everything fell into place on this particular day in order for this to happen.

Argentina – Iguazu Falls

_DSC5325Down in Argentina you can visit Iguazu  Falls. It’s sure to be wet. There is a boat ride to the falls. They give you a ‘wetbag’ to store valuables, that would be expensive cameras. Take the picture or not, it’s your choice. _DSC5480We did. And it was raining all day. I mean umbrellas couldn’t save you. David, Lisa, and I did the best we could. Dry was not possible. At lunch it was quite an experience to enter an air-conditioned dining room and to see condensation inside the lens of all the cameras (3). DSCN0873Fortunately the water evaporated and nothing more could be seen of any water damage. But it was scary for a moment. No waterproof diving camera in those days.IMG_2318


Yes, this is not a special effect. This is condensation in the camera at lunch when the A/C caused the vapor to fog. It cleared in less than an hour. Dumb luck or crazy!

Organize and Backup

IMG_3495It’s been a year. I dropped my beloved laptop one year ago. Ordinarily it has survived. I have dented the case (aluminum) and it survived. I’ve done it more than once! (Not too bright!) I don’t backup… at least not regularly. And I have priceless hundreds of thousands of images. Dumb!? My images are at least backed up redundantly to a series of external hard drives. So very few images have been lost. Some were gone because if you copy bad files to bad files…. So I only copy the original files to each back up drive. That part is compulsive and paranoid.

I got a call last year, “Come out. We’re going now.” So I leapt up from my seat and my laptop dropped. Unfortunately it was on, as in actually working, spinning the hard drive. That is not good! When it’s asleep or off, the hard drive heads and reader are parked and relatively safe. The bad news is that the drive was dead. No backup! And the good news is that the drive was alive enough to resuscitate most (95%) of the files which took me months to complete the recovery process.IMG_3494

When the kids made their December delivery to me here in Jeddah, I got some new 2TB external drives. The older ones (2 left) had the original image files and scanned slide files. I just completed a comprehensive backup and reconstruction of my Lightroom files. Now I have digital files, scanned slides, and a mishmash of older image files in three catalogs. This is estimated at about 200K images somewhat organized. Certainly my digital files are organized. And the scanned slides are pretty well organized. It’s the mishmash that is the challenge. I filed my slides and original digital images by date. (Start now and you’ll never know how much work you saved yourself later.) I keep a separate database in Excel to track the general place, time, subject, and people. Use Excel, most other programs stop getting supported and database file then can’t be read. (another hard lesson learned)

Well, there it is, a little brick (silver on the far right), sitting on my desk, and waiting to be mined for future blog images. So some random files from the archive, that happen to catch my memory will follow for a while. I have been back and forth about the vision of this blog. Is it current events, Middle East adventure, stories….? So to all of you reading (and I thank you), I’m a bit scattered but there’s a plan. And there’s a backup, too. Ha!

US Tennis Open

_DSC1261I suppose I have to revisit my trips to the US Tennis Open. I store my slide collection in a set of custom-made drawers. I have more than 100k. That would be a lot of drawers. Anyway we had a party and Manny Milan, a senior Sports Illustrated photographer, was there with his wife. Our wives worked together. Mine mentioned that I had a lot of slides and Manny was pretty impressed by my storage solution. This led to an invitation from Manny for me to attend the US Open. I had a Sports Illustrated ID and wandered the grounds shooting the ‘semis’ and ‘finals.’ I learned a lot. First of all most all of the serious sports guys are shooting Canon. Nikon is in the minority. Forget equipment. It ‘s about getting the shot. That is generally defined as getting that image where the ball, racquet, and player are in the same frame. And it’s even better if it’s just the players face, racquet, and ball. Try this a few times. You think motor drive will do it. No! You will miss just about every time. Things are just moving too fast. And try to focus. So I learned to pre-focus and to time when to press the shutter. (Go ahead, get the ball just coming off the racquet!) _DSC1272And for all that you only got the image a small percentage of the time. And then there are the classic positions. Shooting from the baseline you want a face on view with the ball in the frame. From the sideline there is another goal. And the same can be said for being high in the stands with a full view of both players and the entire court. Time of day…. And so it goes. With digital cameras the images are taken off the memory cards and uploaded online even as the match is being played. Then there are the images that will not show up anywhere in the media. I will be discrete and not name names. 2006 09 7490 UnderwearAt the baseline there is the ‘dugout.’ It is an area at the level of the players’ feet where photographers sit and shoot. The assigned seating is like a pecking order of importance. I got a back row view. I’m nobody. The male photographer in front of me nudged his female colleague as he showed her his LCD. She gave him a disgusted look. I couldn’t see the near court player nor could I see his image. I just stuck my camera up and out, fired off a couple images, and took a look at what there was to see. I have to laugh. It’s almost pornographic. A thong, and the pants are pretty much transparent (presumably sweat). But what puzzled me were the suspenders holding up the thong. Anyway this image would never get published. It no doubt falls in the outtake bin. By the way she’s still playing.


In The Dark

IMG_1981It constantly amazes me how well the camera processor/sensor can analyze a scene and get a decent exposure. Basically I’m lazy. I don’t want to be twirling a lot of dials and adjusting shutter, ISO, and aperture. So the camera does the work and I compose and try to crop in camera as the image is taken. You could never do this with film. And you never had a chance to make instant corrections. Immediate feedback has made things so much easier. I will also admit that I am not shooting raw.IMG_1982


IMG_1958 aI’m saddled with slow shutter speed, image stabilization, high ISO, and a cropped image. You can see the movement blur. All in all I consider this a satisfactory grab shot. The beauty of auto focus is that you really do just point and shoot. In truth this is what I have come to know as street photography. I’d rather not tangle with folks who don’t want their picture taken. So I just shoot from the hip. This opens up a whole discussion on whether it is proper to just shoot like this. It is in fact permissible in a public space. My kids would rather that I didn’t do this and risk harm to myself. I’m just discrete and haven’t run into any problems so far. Hey, he was a cute kid.

Sunset Panorama


I have been taking multiple images and stitching them together. It’s never quite perfect and it’s time consuming. So I cheated here. I took a single wideangle shot and cropped it down. You lose lots of information and I won’t get to blow it up to mega size. Since I mainly planned to post the image to the internet, this has not presented a major problem. The camera had a setting for sunset but this scene option was dropped from the G11 to G12. Secret: just run up the saturation and voila. It’s what the camera’s processor does to ‘pop’ the sunset.IMG_1948


IMG_1897I have to say that the little point and shoot outdoes my big DSLR in low light. You really can see the fast lens make a difference. The Canon S1000 has an f2.0 lens. And that darned lens is sharp. I took out the Canon G12 and did a comparison shoot. The evening sunset night shoot got me some nice shots of the mosque. I was going for a sunset image with the blazing sun setting just behind the mosque. My only problem is that the setting sun has moved on the horizon with the change of seasons. I’m taking my shot now and not waiting until next year. I got a very decent handheld night shot. There’s image stabilization. After all my problems with underwater exposure and white balance, it was a pleasure to let the camera decide for itself this time.IMG_1987

Fan Coral

IMG_4634I have begun to know where things are around the resort we have frequented. There is a fan coral at about 65 feet depth. Follow the reef north and you will encounter it. I have been there several times. It’s the only one around this area. Lighting is tricky as I have been disappointed with many images I shot. The key is the diffuse bounce lighting. It gives the coral a clean natural color and a pleasing glow. I’m not showing the failures all of which had some defect. But there are a lot of images that did not make the cut. I’m glad I got to come back.

Fish Teeth

IMG_1657Well sharks have them, right? Anyway, I read somewhere that the profile, side on view of the fish – head to tail – was like a catalog shot. If you’re doing a fish guidebook, that’s what you want to shoot. And to get an image worth keeping, you need a head on view. Someone also said that fish see the big camera pointed at them and think that big photographer is coming to eat them. As a result most of my images are tail end where I’m chasing as the fish swim frantically from my camera. Profile images result from shooting as the fish turns out to avoid me. But every once in a while I get an image face on into me. And even less often is the lighting, focus, and exposure are good enough to be satisfying. Hey, remember this is a point and shoot camera.

Butterfly Fish

IMG_1760 copy 2Lighting is a challenge because red color falls off with depth. And the water acts like a big diffuser there is direction. So from one direction or another the light changes and so does the color. Try asking a fish to wait while I swim around into a better position. The challenge is in position, which is determined by our swim up and back along the reef. In the Red Sea we are oriented north south with the sun moving overhead fortunately almost always cloudless. I just am happy to get a focused well exposed shot. At some point I’m going to get further along the learning curve and control the environment a little better. It’s a matter of more experience.

IMG_1762 copy 2

Lion’s Den

IMG_1829 copy 2I had an epiphany the other day. I’ve been diving for a year. I learned underwater photography without a lesson and on my own. I watched my dive master and used common sense. I tried flash, ‘underwater setting’, custom white balance, used two different cameras (not by choice), and edited in Photoshop and Lightroom. So I just realized how far I’ve come… or how little I knew a year ago. Even so I got some pretty good shots. But I can now tell how much better I’ve become. I realize how not so good I was last year. Right away I was excited with some of my shots. Later Julia and I had a big breakthrough with editing in Photoshop. The subjects (fish) remain fascinating and different every time I dive.

In this instance we have been diving the same area of the reef enough for me to become familiar with certain areas to find fish. There is a concrete cave made from fallen slabs.

IMG_1831 a copy 2One day you find a stonefish, another day there was a spiky pufferfish. But recently it was a lionfish convention. There were six… no… seven. It was almost too much for my camera. And we were training a new diver. There were four of us and I had the only camera. It was very poor visibility as in there was a lot of backscatter – looks like dust and is mostly fish poop. White balance in poor light is also a problem. I couldn’t back away without getting too much backscatter. You never see this many lionfish together. Maybe they were planning to mate up. Down on the left is another type with spiky fins. Whenever you find them they are rarely swimming toward you. And my dive mates are always swimming away before too long. So it means you move on because you ‘never leave your wingman.’


An example of the picture out of the camera, it needs a bit of processing.

I had three dives this day and passed this spot on the last two dives. With several chances, the light was best on the last pass. Otherwise I would have had some less dramatic shots.IMG_1839 copy 2

I don’t rely on flash. But anyone seriously needing to control the light is using a couple of external strobes to get a dark background. While I like ambient light, I can see the advantage to an isolating background and more consistent color balance. IMG_1841 copy 2


IMG_4508 copy 2I don’t think that it is one. But it sure reminds me of tuna. At least this guy is sleek and built for speed as opposed to the puffer fish, who looks an ungainly truck. I’m running auto white balance, using on camera flash with a diffuser, and in macro setting. You get your share of misses. But when you hit, it’s pretty special. Thank goodness for digital. You shoot several hundred images to get 10 or 20 to keep.IMG_4515 copy 2

Step Right Up

IMG_4505 copy 2Or, rather swim right up. Swinging my flashlight like a madman, I was looking under every rock for something hiding. It seems to me that fish have a very large iris opening. But you can’t see at night because it’s just plain dark. Who would want to swim in the dark and run into sharp coral? I found this one under a rock and moved in with my light. It blinded him and he stayed perfectly still for me to get some great close-ups. Then, Farid scared him away.

Puffer Fish

IMG_4483 copy 2There were several out and about on the floor of the sea that night we dove. When I found this guy and the next, they didn’t swim away from me. They just sort of stood there… ok, lay there. Later on I figured it out. Anytime any of my dive companions shined their flashlight in my face, the bright light was all I could see. I couldn’t see the diver behind the light. So it works that way for the fish. IMG_4489 copy 2The light beam blinds them and they stay still because they don’t sense a threat. As a result I got to shoot in macro right up close. Even the camera flash didn’t not cause them to stir much. It’s a neat observation. But, there aren’t too many fish out at night. I was really struggling to keep the camera and the flashlight in sync. It’s kind of like getting dressed in the dark. You need to be familiar with the buttons and settings, because they don’t glow in the dark to help you see your way.


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