I was enthusiastic about learning to scuba dive. It was a bucket list thing. Underwater photography? Yes, of course?? It was this photo that opened my eyes! It’s nothing special as far as other spectacular images I made. But this was a game changer for me. The color! Who knew the coral would be so colorful with a flash! Not me. Done! I was hooked. Thereafter, I was the first in and last out on any dive. One never knew what you had obtained until you post processed upon downloading the images to your computer. It was like opening Xmas! every dive.
Night dive! This was the moment when I realized that diving in the dark dark ocean with sharks somewhere about was not so scary as the result of obtaining a worthy night image. This was the moment that opened my mind to the concept. “Fish on a platter” I was hooked and enjoyed and sought night dives whenever I could.
This next few days are about 5 star pics. They are in my catalog going back years. How did we get to 5 star? My picking method varies enough that there are plenty of worthy pics that aren’t labeled 5 but should be. Here are some that have 5 stars and to me are memorable. I start with a fish and a bird. It’s rare and for me, nearly never, that I was there at the exact moment to see the catch. Not so good for the fish, I suppose. But I was glad to have gotten the shot.
Hey! I got experience. I have experience. I had the fortunate experience of diving in the Red Sea. I have hundreds of dives recorded. Lucky!! And I have photos that are one of a kind. I have a hermit crab in the act of laying eggs. How cool is that? One of a kind!! I was there at the right moment. Yes, sometimes I impress myself.
How do you tell one clown fish from one another? They all look the same to me. Male or female?? Ha ha, good luck with that. But here are fish eggs. They are a rare sight to capture underwater. I am indeed fortunate that I was there when it happened. I missed the moment the eggs hatched. That would have been special. I suppose there are always some regrets we have until the next time.
I did a search on the hard drive for a picture. These images all carried the number “IMG_0771.” The image number(s) recycles. It is the nature of digital cameras. Fish in the Red Sea. Cat in Delaware.
I was surprised by the images that had the same number spanning many years. The image of Jules, around 2007, and Colleen 2014. Jules – Maine or Vermont. Colleen NYC.
I was blown away by the mask and the drawn face. It was a bit of shock. I have no recollection of that joke, date and place, unknown. And then, there’s a cerebellar tumor, Jeddah circa 2013? As I recall we successfully removed that tumor and it’s recurrence. IMG_0771, this image, has been an interesting historical journey touching significant things in my life.
…’cause jelly don’t shake. I know. I know. I got it backwards. … don’t care. It ain’t easy photographing them. They are translucent transparent. And the last time I tried I was being buffeted in the Red Sea. Alas, I am in the aquarium and the conditions are different. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you can’t.
Sometimes a picture strikes you. Smile laugh whatever! Happy! We were in the aquarium at the end of the pier in Manhattan Beach. It’s about the last place I expected to find and aquarium or fish. I’m taking pictures of fish! It’s not the Red Sea…
I learned this trick in the last months I dove in the Red Sea. Hermit crabs. They live in shells. I would see shells as we dove. I turned them over and waited. If there was a crab, it emerged to turn it’s house back – right side up. My dive buddies would laugh at me. No crab on the reef was safe from me. Mostly I would get or not get a satisfactory shot. Everyone else lost interest and stopped taking pictures of the crabs. I persisted. Look!
Eggs! Not once, but more than once. Actually, it happened more. But, in this instance you can see that the crab is in the act of laying its eggs. I think.
At least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it. You should be impressed. This was not easy. Really? The timing !!! I was there, I will readily admit purely fortuitously. But there!!
Okay, back to diving… I’m editing some images for a presentation next March. Ha! I was never known for advance planning. But…. So, I’m looking through roughly 60,000 dive images. Many, most, are not any good. You take a lot and most are out of focus or poorly exposed. Got it? I’m looking over a night dive. The exposure is awful. But? Well, I ratcheted up the exposure and lo and behold… not one, but, at least four shrimp! I’m lucky to see one. But four! They like to hide behind urchins. Protective? I can count four. This is a complete surprise to me. I must have edited when I finished the dive. I guess? I don’t remember. Meanwhile, serendipity, I found something new. I know you might not be impressed. The Planet Earth series is full of amazing shots. We see amazing shots day in and day out. I’m just an advanced amateur. I am humbled to get these shots and to have had the opportunity to do so. Hey! Four shrimp, one shot! They are notoriously shy. You should know. You’d eat them if they were on your plate. They know this too!
Here’s something I don’t see often and never in Maine until now. Tuna. I don’t know how large. Say about 300 pounds? At least! It was a big one. It made quite a hit at the dock. I heard some loud voices and peeked over the rail to see the commotion. This was a big fish tale. How big?! But this was no trophy fish. It was headed for the market and a handsome profit. Within moments of hauling the fish onto the dock it was already being dissected. Off with its head! Soon to follow were the fins. They used a simple power saw. Onto the truck. Off and away to market. The head was tossed upon the dock and soon discarded for lobster bait. Nothing goes to waste.
It’s not a fish? This one washed up on the beach. It’s a much better picture taken underwater. However, the water is cold… too cold for me. No diving. You can actually see some detail around the edges. Fascinating. Transparent. Brain? It eats? Anything/anybody eat it? Life, how interesting.
This is a jellyfish in the Red Sea – in situ. Believe me, it’s hard to photograph. They are transparent and therefore near to impossible to focus your camera let alone get a decent image.
See through! Yeah! Try to spot this one. And they are small. And they are skittish. So, it’s very fortunate to see one. Now, try to get a picture. Damn! It seems that the flash does not trigger a retreat. Every once in a while, I get to see one. Focus! It’s the hardest thing to do. How do you focus on a transparent animal? Yeah, it was hard. I’d shoot and shoot and shoot. Some, a few (images) would turn out decent. Most were throw away images. Remember I’m shooting through water and moving in 3D – up, down, sideways – in the current. Yeah, it’s hard enough if I’m standing on dry land. Oh, remember to get all of your settings right. The flash had to be set manually – guessing at the right light settings. Oh yeah! Easy as pie?!!
They like to hide in coral holes. They are fearless. They think you can’t see them. Mostly no one does. Amr has eagle eyes. He sees them. After he moves away with his ($5000) big rig camera, I move in and get my shots. Rarely is it the case where I find a goby on my own. They simply hide/blend so well. This picture is mine. See the horn?! That’s detail. This is a good shot. I’m telling you so because it’s a hard shot to do well. Trust me?!
The last few months I dove in the Red Sea there was not a single (that I could find) hermit crab safe from me. Turn over the shell, wait, the legs and head would poke out to right the upside-down shell. They’d do it over and over. I just had to hang around long enough to wait to get the perfect shot. My dive buddies were swimming away. I would linger to the last second. The shot includes the eyes and the antennae in focus. You only get a moment. Once, I got a “mama” hermit crab with eggs. That was special. I think even my buddies were impressed. The crabs are only mere fractions of an inch big. Yes! Small! I’m used to shooting under (time) pressure. Traditionally, my companions are always moving on to something else as I linger behind. Yup, the Poky Little Puppy.
Follow your buddy, shoot what they shoot. My friend Marie has the ability to find great “shit.” And she breathes slow! Way slow! She can get an hour and a half from a single tank. Newbies get about thirty minutes. I got an hour. After I learned to breathe more slowly and rhythmically from her (by watching her) I could get way more dive time. And more pictures! Meanwhile, she was taking pics of the male fish (see the teeth) with eggs in their mouth. And I did too! Yay! I once saw a fern in Jamaica whose leaves shrink when touched – sort of like scrunching up when a rain drop would hit. Coral does too – some types – as in you can write things in the coral. But once one coral shrinks the whole lot seems to follow. So, it’s a trick to write letters in the shrinking coral. Good luck.
During Ramadan everything (schedule) is turned upside down. Night dives! The guys would show up to break fast. Eat. Then dive. Yay! They did two or three! Night dives! Unfortunately, I was not privy to the schedule. No one ever tells you, nor do they bother to invite you. Ah well, I caught on to the rumor and showed up. The group all brought food to the communal break fast meal. They graciously fed me. (Free food!) We hung out way past sunset into night time. What the…? We were waiting for the late arrival of a friend. He was a thin guy whose wet (elastic) suit hung limply over his scrawny figure. He chain-smoked until he put his tank on and the regulator into his mouth. Yeah, nothing happens (explosion). It’s compressed air, not oxygen. I got to be his dive buddy. Oh great!? At the very end of the dive, after the decompression stop, when we were swimming in toward the pier, at the very last second; he pulled up short and started taking pictures like mad. It was a hermit crab on the bottom in ten foot of water. Yeah, sometimes your dive buddy has his moments.
Confusing picture? The hermit crab has green eyes. There are antennae. He has covered himself with shells in order to confuse you and to camouflage himself better. See?
I realize it’s not a good image. But it’s a good memory. Farid and I were swimming parallel to the reef. That would be north south. We are supposed to be able to navigate underwater. After all north south is south north going backward. Ha! It’s one way or the other. Keep the reef to your right or left shoulder. Done! Ah! No! If you swim into a cove you can swim in a circle and be right back where you started. Get it? We didn’t. I had a great laugh when Farid surfaced to see where the hell we were. Oh! I missed it too. I was just following the “leader.” Rays? Out in the “blue” were three rays just moving along the reef. Beautiful. We couldn’t get close. They swam effortlessly away from us. The “blue?” In the deep, with no reference for navigation, up, down and sideways, it’s all the same. You can be lost or disoriented so easily. We joked. Sudan is to our west and in the “blue.” Don’t go to Sudan.
This was the quintessential image that “hooked” (ha ha) me on night dives. Night dive? Sharks are out there in the dark?!! No. They don’t like the light. They think it’s a big eye; they don’t come near night divers. Hmmm? Who had a conversation with a shark and found that info out? I consider that bright flashing light a dinner bell, “Come one, come all, dinner is served!”
My first night dive during my “advanced” course was totally forgettable. I wasn’t allowed to take my camera. Drat! And double drat! We didn’t see much. It’s surprising how boring things are when you don’t carry a camera. But this image was taken during a boat dive and a night dive. We actually had a guy on the boat who was afraid of the dark and didn’t go into the water. Funny. But near the end of our dive, there it was – a stonefish on a platter. My! Everything was right (including the stars!) – I got this shot. Perfect! Well, for me it was so special to see this as I edited. Wow! You might be jaded and fail to see the difficulties that all culminated in this image. Me? I was just so impressed with everything that came together in that fraction of a second. What an image! Night dive? I was there ever after. We did not do many. It was not a thing that folks wanted to much wait around to do. Generally, we did a couple day dives and then moved along with our day activities. It was even rare to do a third day dive. I’d have gone (diving) morning till night. I appreciated the special moments and that they could end any time. Alas!
I got some “art” shots. Unintentional! Really! The kissing fish? It’s a true picture. I was swimming over a rise in the coral. Voila! They were kissing. It lasted for a single frame. No! No Photoshop! No one believes me. It’s too easy to manipulate an image. But! Yup! Kissing! Omar blew bubbles. He liked Jules. So, he latched on to us and did a few dives with us. He was showing off his skill at the decompression stop. Bubbles! Free diver. There are guys who dive without tanks. Free divers – duh?! They hang weights from a float and dive to depths. Hey, it’s something to do when you have mastered basic diving skills. This diver was waiting for his compatriots. I got my balletic shot. Beautiful.
It’s “fiber.” That includes knitting and weaving. There are lots of knitters. There are fewer weavers and spinners. The two groups are pretty separate skills. So, it’s called fiber to get everyone to gather under one roof. Angora fiber can be spun straight from the rabbit. It’s fussy enough that the fiber is quite expensive. The sticks are scarf/shawl pins. If you need to ask, you don’t wear them. And, this takes me to the question of taxidermy. How do you stuff a trophy fish? It looks fake to me. That’s the trick I suppose. The plaque says it was a caught fish. It sure looks artificial. But then again, I’m no fisherman. Onward… to the next fiber fair. Hey! It’s been a while since I did a post with a fish. I guess this is not the case now. But…
I’m not posting new from the Red Sea. But there are fish. We were buying pet food. Petco is a big box chain store. They sell fish. I was stunned to see a sad display of betas. They are solitary and will fight any other fish in its habitat. So there was a stack of bowls with single fish. The fish were lethargic. They can breathe air; there was a tiny hole in the top of the container. Stacked up row upon row the fish were waiting to be sold. It is enough to make you want to reconsider owning a pet. Who thinks this is good advertising?
It took two days to go from not too much to see, to eyes and mouth. We actually returned to the same spot. This is a neat trick – to return. It’s not easy. Everything looks similar. In the forest one tree looks about the same as any other. Here’s how I figured it out. I used my dive computer. I saw we were at 50 feet and about twenty minutes in the dive. So, we retraced our path. It worked! Tomorrow the eggs will be hatched. We know this from the last find. Once hatched, the tiny fish will be chaos and I would never get an image. And, we weren’t waiting to see the hatching. Too bad.
I imagine being there to image the hatching. It would indeed be a rare and special thing to witness. That would be for someone way more OCD than I can admit to being. But… No! It’s not my day job and I don’t have the time. But at least for the next diver, it’s about two days to eyes, and one more to hatching.
Damsel fish lay eggs and the guard them. This one moved in and brushed against me as I swam by. I knew it was guarding something. Eggs! It was too early. Nothing had developed yet. The eggs are tiny. You need very high magnification. How high? Enough that I can’t see the eggs by myself. I wear glasses now. There are no corrective lens in my mask. So I shoot and then wait to see what’s on my computer. I am fascinated that I can technically get images like this. And even more special is that finding this is so rare!
I never said I wouldn’t post another fish. I just said, “last dive.” This is one weird shy fish. Weird or shy? Both. Picasso trigger fish, the coloration inspired its name. It swims on the reef and usually is speeding away from my camera. So, I was just a second late to shoot a feather duster worm. And this fish flashes past my vision and burrowed into the coral crevice. What the…? I never knew the stripes on the back were raised. And I bet you did not either. I poked him. …sorry! And he burrowed farther. He did not bolt! In this case he would have had to back out. Do fish have a gear for reverse?