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.
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?
Selfie. It’s a wrap. I’m not bragging. It’s been an incredible journey.
Dives: 399 – Minutes: 25877 – Hours: 431 – Images this year: 21834 – Total four years: >50,000 images
I have logged 399 dives. Darn, just one short of 400. I did not log early dives nor training dives. That would be about six months until I got a dive computer. Some dives were short, maybe 30 minutes. And the longest was in excess of 100 minutes, 109 on a recent dive. I got better at air management. The average dive was about 64 min. This year I dove a lot and took 21, 834 images with a Canon G7. I have used a Canon G11, two Canon G12’s, and three Canon S100’s. Basically, I used three housings. I have two strobes. Redundancy was a must. Saudi has very limited access to equipment and supplies. All my stuff was largely brought from the US. I traveled with extra everything – batteries, memory cards. I always had a flashlight for unexpected night dives. I often had an extra camera housing – just in case. I have had about any camera problem you can think about. So be prepared. Everything fails. It’s a bit like wedding photography. You have two of everything. It’s a rule. Something always happens. I saved my buddy the other day. His memory card was full. I have forgotten to load my memory card. It’s better than forgetting to turn on your oxygen. But, I’ve done that too. (Ask your buddy to turn you on.)
There were three fantasy things I wanted to do in life. Dive. Fly. (I flew with a buddy in a Bell 47 helicopter.) And parachute. Two out of three ain’t bad. And I got to do both extensively. I’d have liked to have done one more night dive. And there are pictures in my head that I never got to image. Four years on the reef and I still saw something new on the last dive. I went into the water never expecting to make statistics. Fun, learning, pushing my personal limits – when the fork in the road came, I took it.
Fast. The shells were moving like a three card monte shell game. They are active at night. New houses – shells – are a premium. Poor snails. I wonder if they move out or are eaten. The adults move slowly and deliberately and cautiously. The little guys scuttle. I mean they move fast enough that I have to actually catch them and hold them. I could not see this one. He was translucent. Early. Juvenile. And I guess a morsel. So the faster you are the better your chance to survive to adulthood. The shell is so tiny. First home! One bedroom, no room to expand. Starter place. My kids live in small apartments. I have a five-bedroom villa for the cats and me. It doesn’t seem fair. I’d share but they don’t want to live here. Location, location, location.
Those guys in the last post – the ones taking their night dive specialty – one of them found this at the dive platform. I find the tiny ones. You’ve seen my pictures. No matter. The guy pointed this out with his light. I knew immediately what it was. It’s nothing to look at – a gnarly shell moving on the bottom. But large! How large? The size of my fist. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But it was large. This is nice. It’s a lot easier to see the crab. And so I got a nice shot or two.
A crab this large is not seen much on the reef during the day. And if it already has a shell, why does it carry around a second shell on its back? Meanwhile it’s my mission to photograph all the hermit crabs I come across. In order to do so you have to turn them over. That would be messing with the wildlife. Sorry kids….
It seems everyone knows about hermit crabs. Where have I been? But they are a ready target for macro photography practice. I find a shell and turn it over. The crab senses his world is upside down and emerges to turn himself upright again. We do this dance over and over. I get ready aim and fire. I’ve learned some crabs are not bright red and photogenic. I’ve learned that some crabs are faster than others. They turn over quick and then it’s a trick to be ready with the camera in time. I’m getting better. I am using super macro now. I zoom up with the digital zoom. I thought you can’t do that. But it looks like I can. So I do. Naturally. Show me a rule I can bend and I’ll do it every time. I’m still not to the level where I can image just the eyes yet. I working on it.
I have a buddy who keeps showing me that there is a higher bar. You still have to be in the right place at the right moment.. But when that shot comes, I’ll be good to go. He’s been giving lots of folks lessons. He is the local guru of photography. His big rig Canon is quite impressive. It’s a massive housing and two flashes with double arms. The thing weighs about 25 lbs out of water. Underwater, it’s set to be neutrally buoyant. I have not taken a lesson. Cheap! But no.
When I learned to snow ski, I took a lesson. Exactly one. For four hours one morning. Mount Snow. Vermont. The instructor was busy hitting on all the girls for the four hours. I learned zip. I was married and did not need tips in meeting women. So the afternoon lesson was skipped and I learned to ski by putting on mileage. It worked. I can ski. I’m good enough to be at the bottom. In one piece. I may not look great coming down. But I sure have fun with my near escapes. How good? I’m good enough to ski down and video my kids as they go. Try looking at the slope thru a viewfinder as you go. Or to ski backwards as they come toward you. The real trick is that they would ski between and under my legs as they came by. The only caveat: “Do not under any circumstances, lift your head!” I got the video to prove it and it’s hilarious. Mileage baby.
I’m taking many many images and I keep practicing on these poor hermits. No, it’s not the same one. I got one good image. Quit? Lisa would not see the insanity. You know? Insanity – doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Me, I never claimed to be playing with a full deck.
Can you top this? Does lightning strike twice in the same place? Who knows? Well, I found this second hermit crab with eggs inside the shell. Pretty neat! This was actually the first I saw of this phenomena. I guess it’s common place for hermit crabs. But I’m still tickled to find this when I find it. To me it’s still wondrous.
Hey! It’s spring and things are in bloom. So eggs are getting laid. If you know where to look you can see it everywhere. I’m just not that good yet. No, don’t ask. I wonder where the tiny hatchlings go? That would be a hell of a photograph. Meanwhile lightning struck me twice. Not literally…figuratively, silly.
So, you saw yesterday’s post. I got some good images. And now!? My dive buddy took my camera and shot a few. This is what he got. It’s not blown up. It’s full frame. At this magnification, it is very hard to get a sharp image and detail. Things go blurry for lots of reasons. Everything is moving, photographer and subject, and current, and camera, and focus point, and it’s pretty near impossible…for me. Credit this to Amr. He just raised my bar. I think I’m good. He shows me I still have a way to go. This is fun. I’m better, not great, and not as good as I will be. At this point in my life it’s pretty nice to be challenged to do better. Good equipment helps. The right lens at the right moment helps. Luck! But it’s the photographer too. I just discovered that my equipment is fine. …and my hands shake. Not really…shhhh, I do brain surgery just fine. But I’ve been doing my day job for a long time. And I know what to do and I’m good at what I do… day job.
This hermit crab is too tiny to eat. Someone I know loves crab…to eat. That antenna is as small as a fine hair. So! Yes! This is a small morsel. Not even a tidbit. I took the liberty of cropping horizontal and vertical.
Each image has its merits and you are left to choose which you like. And always, the question, “Which do you prefer?” You have to have a favorite.
That would be like asking me which of my two kids do I prefer. And to that I just smile. Okay, back to the post. Do you see the detail? Are you getting some enthusiasm here. Great images are too easy to find? Someone always has a better one. But! This one is mine!
I got eggs! Be suitably impressed please. I don’t think anyone has this shot. And if they do, great and good luck to them. I have another somewhere. I’ll post it when I edit it later. But this was an unexpected find from the dive I made this past weekend. The senior and more experienced dive photographers as making fun of me. I have discovered what they have known about before me. I just discovered how to find hermit crabs. Ho hum. No big deal. Right! I’ve been tormenting all the hermit crabs that will come out to play on the reef. The others just shake their heads and photograph something else. I’m old. My vision is not what it was once. Add motion, and blurring with a dive mask, and then a gentle current pushing you around, and finally a subject that would rather you leave it alone. You cannot stage this. You can’t even know what’s going on. You certainly can’t see the eggs when you shoot the image. This crab is small. The eggs are miniscule. Yeah, wow! I have to say that this is pretty good. Right place, right time, luck is a great thing. Or as our neurosurgery departmental motto went: “It’s better to be lucky than good.”