It’s a nudibranch. This was the last subject I photographed in the Red Sea. Last dive in September 2016. This is one I have not seen before. How nice to see something new? The dive was like any other – uneventful. I knew it was the last dive. It came and went without fanfare. I have not dived since. I think I will dive again someday. Meanwhile, I have a lot of expensive equipment waiting for that day.
I love a challenge. I like to go to the edge technically and have to struggle to get the image. You would think that point and shoot. Anyone can press the shutter and get whatever. You do it with your iPhone all the time. Right place right time, it’s mostly about being in position. Having a phone makes it easy to catch breaking news. But what if you actually had to work to get the image. It’s not as simple to press the shutter. I had about thirty tries. And, I was inadequate to the task.
The first image is not my shot. Amr. Suffice to say that my effort was lacking. I had two tries in two dives. I was at the limit of my present skill. I’ll get better, just not today. Remember, the current is pushing, breathing makes you shake, the subject is too small to really see, and no one is patiently letting you just shoot. Hey, we have a limit to air and bottom time! If you can imagine a tiny piece of lint, then this nudibranch was about that size. I could not see the details of it with my bare vision. Any movement and you have a focus problem. And I did. A lot! So it is Amr’s image that shows up my technical learning curve. I can get better. There is always a higher bar. Steadying your hand is easy. Just rest it on the coral. Then try not to let your body sway in the current. It helps if you can hold your breath too. Try to put it all together. There’s the trick!
I see new stuff infrequently now. My buddy kindly pointed this nudibranch out. At first I did not see what he was pointing to. Yes, I wear glasses. Don’t make fun. I don’t wear them underwater. But I see pretty good without them. How do you miss something so colorful as this? Easy! It’s easy to miss. There is a lot going on underwater. Countless times I have returned to discover things sitting on my computer that were never in the shot when I pressed the shutter. Laugh if you want. I saw something new. And that always is a good thing.
This is a first for me. And my dive buddy pointed it out and did not take a picture. He’s seen it. Oh my! That’s the name – large dragon. It’s in my handy dandy book. So you have not seen it here before. I was pretty excited. Every dive has a signature picture. Some dives have more than one. And some dives have none. This was an outstanding dive! Something new! And I even got good images. Yeah, I pretty thrilled. You don’t get high detail easily. You can crop post production in Photoshop. But that is sort of unfair. My ground dry land photography is cropped in camera. So why not underwater? At high magnification, everything, including this diver’s had, shakes more. So it is hard to compose, focus, and shoot. I’m already good. I’m trying to get better.
And this was a real thrill. Go ahead, yawn. But this was a great dive for me!
Macro. It’s what they call it. Macro means large to me. It is counterintuitive to me. But the art or style is to get the details. And believe me the details are often not obvious on first look.
Red coral has hair – like the fine hair on your arm. Not obvious. I don’t know what the purpose is. I don’t see the hairs on most coral.
Horns – rhinopores. The yellow orange are pretty obvious. And the serrations are a new discovery since I now get magnified views with my super macro lens. The black and white – gee! – I didn’t know there were rhinopores for three years. There is a front and back! Damn! Starfish – fine details – it was out because the water was so murky the starfish was fooled into thinking it was dark. This is stuff that I simply never appreciated till I started macro photography. Neat!
Someone I know loves green. So here are color patterns that seem to go together. I would say I’m partial to red. It’s the color of the Red Sea. Red coral – Red Sea – duh! I was struck by the color when I edited. And I could not resist posting it. Otherwise this is just another pajama nudi on the reef. Oh boy! Like they are always just sitting around for a picture. Actually they move, Not fast but they cover territory and move from one dive to the next. Someone has seen them mating. I’d like to see that to photograph. You won’t see that here. I’m strictly G rated. HA
How big? Everyone was laughing after the dive. These were the largest any of us have seen on the reef. We are all experienced divers. For this pajama chromodorid, these were quite large. As if a nine-foot tall person would be noticed above the crowd.
But my pictures are all showing close ups and full frame images. So how to prove or how to make the reader realize these were large specimens? Well, fisherman always lie about how large it was, the one that got away… There were four.
You see three. The other was not next to the others. Were they mating? That would have been neat to see too. The images here are uncropped. So, you can appreciate that my macro technique is a whole lot better too.
The equipment doesn’t make the photographer. But it helps to have good euipment. Hmmm do we need a bigger fishing rod?
Here’s an odd couple. They were coexisting. Friends? Traveling buddies? Fighting? The big guy was picking on the little one? Anyway, it’s an unusual grouping. At this point the Willey’s is not usual but no longer unusual. Nudibranch have rhinopores and gills. You can see them. Sometimes you see them better. My macro work needs more work. I could not quite demo the rhinopores on the big guy.
Tsk tsk, I think the point was to demonstrate the pairing. It brings up and interesting question. When is enough?
I shot from different angles, from different focal lengths, changed the strobe settings, zoomed in, focused on parts, got a wide view… then you leave, swim on. At what point do you go? After one image? There was a time with film photography when you had a roll of thirty six exposures (one film roll) per dive.
Wow. My dives are about 100 to 200 images per dive. It’s not unlimited. Batteries run out. That limits your capacity. …unless I get a bigger camera… with a bigger battery.
This nudibranch is pretty common where I dive. It means we see it. It’s not as though you don’t have to keep a sharp eye. And it is usually small. And it is not moving fast. And it is usually partially hidden. If no one is looking I might move it a bit to allow me to get my camera into a better position Shhhhh! Don’t tell. Charlie, a friend a buddy, a pilot with whom I flew, likes to get the whole subject in the frame. I find that I’m sometimes influenced by his notion. Though I had rationally discounted his idea much of my work is of the whole creature.
Lately, I’m trying for more detail. The rhinopores (horns) have striations. At high mag in macro, the depth of field is so shallow that focus is a problem And then this guy was truckin’ along. Yes, they move. Not fast, but they do. It ain’t easy to get a shot. And I would love to manual focus on the horn. But it’s not something I can do underwater. In a way it’s like getting all set and then the last thing you do is close your eyes and press the shutter. Unlike someone I know, I do not shake my finger when I press.
Here’s a rare find on the reef. I’ve seen it before. It’s a nudibranch. Someone asked me to explain. It’s like a forest with trees. This is one of the trees. There are tall ones and short ones and big leaves and small leaves. It’s doesn’t help too much. Generally, they have certain common anatomic features. There are the front end rhinopores and the rear end gills. Then there is size and color which vary. So you get big and tiny. Some are quite large and you would think with a big soft body, they would be a tasty snack. For some reason the big fish do not find them tasty – probably poisonous. And then again crabs with hard shells are skittish and wary. I love that the rhinopores have striations that you can make out. It’s fun to find. Today I was fortunate to have a very compatible group of buddies. I felt a little guilty. The other three did not have cameras. I got to have all the fun.