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!
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?!!
Shrimp! Alas, it was in an aquarium. It’s striking how much glass will degrade the image. When I shot through water directly it was so much better. But… it’s fish again. Yay!
Green eyes – the water is green, grey. Does that mean the green eye pigment helps? The only reason you see the color I show in my pictures is because the strobe has compensated for the lack of red color underwater. It returns daylight colors to the otherwise green looking see. And then there is the matter of “red eye.” Light reflects off the retina of people and produces “red eye.” You knew that, right? So here you see the red eye. It looks orange to me. And here you don’t. So, see, it works. I love it when science works!
At the end of the dive – that long night dive – we were hovering at our safety stop. Three minutes. It’s like praying. You just hover and ponder life. It’s a safety stop! It’s not supposed to be entertaining. But this is the reason I ran out of air. Down in the coral – deep down – was a crab. Look. Two eyes over the left shoulder?
Ok. I see him. Her? But to get a picture is impossible! How so? It’s deep. The light won’t reach and there will be shadows. The crab is shy! And he doesn’t like the light. And auto focus is stupid. It will focus on the nearest thing. That would be the coral and not the crab.
I don’t control the camera. It does me the favor of imaging what I point at. And damn! Yes! Got several images. Not great. But I got the eye. The eye is the key to the soul. Ok, too much. But the eye makes the image interesting. Got enough so that you know it’s a crab. And I could even identify him in my book. I think?
And when I reviewed the images, there was an added bonus. A shrimp. And something else. Obviously they were all hiding there. Maybe they were playing, who’s for dinner?
Okay! It’s actually spelled out – not – ok. This was the first of what I call Durban dancing shrimp. Yes, yes, out of order. Hey, it’s my blog and you may read backward now if you wish. It was under a rock and hiding with its protector urchin hovering over it. And though my dive buddy pointed it out, I could not for love or money get a shot. His Go Pro was not going to get anything. His camera was out of commission. So my mission (tra la) was to get something. The shadow of the rock did not allow me to aim the camera and get the light in. SOL – shit outta luck. Or: some other lifetime… So how in the world are you looking at anything. I’m not making this up? Oh, see the striated legs are purple. And the spots are not three dimensional like the other post with eggs. Same, similar, alike, male vs female. Who knows? I told you I have this book. And when I ask questions I get blank stares. Me, I’m just happy I got a shot.
Oh! So how we did it…. My buddy shined his light into the hole from behind. It shone over the shrimp and I got a shot. His light was daylight balanced. There were a lot of stars that aligned for me to be able to show you this image. Did I say it’s hard to do? It’s the challenge. It’s why you keep coming back. Mother Nature always pitches you curves.It’s tiny. You could barely see it until the post processing. Thank you Canon camera for making a great lens and sensor.
It’s a dancing shrimp too. Not like the others. Nope. It has a pointy head. And it hid. And it moved away when I got close. Sneak up. Act like you are not paying it any attention. Ha! Try that underwater. I’m a big bubble blowing thing in a large wet suit. Yeah! I don’t think I fool anyone. And the bubbles make a hell of a racket underwater. Fish have ears. If they have ears, how do they pierce them. If not, how will I ever tell the boys from the girls. The shrimp here has something frilly on its body. I don’t know what it is except to point it out. The legs have color striations. And the eyes are on stalks. I’d think more lobster than shrimp. But it is just conjecture on my part. I see this thing and photograph. That’s a challenge. Suppose you were a marine biologist tasked with getting a specimen. Good (damn) luck!
Damn tiny! You would not notice it. I didn’t. My dive buddy was using a flashlight in the daytime dive. He shone it into every nook and cranny. It’s good to have friends with good equipment. Way better than a candle….
This is a shrimp that is associated with the urchins common to our reef. Urchins come out at night. And so, too, the shrimp appear. This guy was out during the day. Brave fellow. People like to eat shrimp. I suppose other fish do too. Getting the shot was hell. The shrimp stays in shadow and moves if you pay it any attention. So to get in close is not too practical. And to get the light in the hole is pretty challenging too. I will add that it is very tiny. Not even a morsel for the cocktail sauce. So it’s all the more amazing I got a shot. You’d understand too, if you knew how I had to stand on my head to get this shot.
It’s tiny. How tiny? The best way to find them it to see the reflection of their eyes from the flashlight. When they see the light they flee. Aha! Some guys use a red light. It helps. Me, I just use luck. It’s lucky we have anything to post for you to see. I’m lucky.
My reference book of pictures is not complete nor accurate. The best I can make out is that these are Durban dancing shrimp. They hang with urchins. Why? Protection. And for sure, it you touch the spiny urchin you will be hurt. It’s needles are so sharp they will easily penetrate a wet suit or gloves. Did I ever tell you to touch nothing under the sea?!! I may be seeing things but there are tiny round things all over the outside. Eggs? This is a shot I am lucky to have. Just plain lucky. The camera and flash are not parfocal. In a hole that mean my light is pretty useless. I managed to pull out this detail from my image. But it was not easy. Then again, it’s a very interesting image too. It’s the first time I’ve seen this shrimp. There are seasons. A month or so ago it was hermit crab time. And the stone fishes were gone for a while. Now I begin to understand the rhythm of things.
Mating has its season too. Maybe they are eggs. It’s surely an unusual place to carry them. The urchin protects. It was pretty bold sitting there among the sharp spines.
Here is an example of how pitiful things can be. See the eyes? I was pretty clueless. And this was only this past summer.
I got these images on a night dive. That would be diving under water in the dark. No, silly, we use flashlights. This is an entirely new and different experience. Yes, your imagination runs wild. I have friends who are afraid of the dark. Really? Yup! The usual, a shark will get you. He sees the light and comes for dinner. Well, you know that I have been told that the shark sees the light and thinks you are a bigger fish. So they stay away. To which I ask, “Whoever spoke to a shark to find out? And did all the sharks read the same rule book?” My strategy: Always dive with a buddy. Duh! Basic diving 101. And…if a shark comes along, turn off your light. You might have to explain how your buddy was eaten…. So, I got a hermit crab. I saw a shell tumbling. In the dark! And it was a hermit crab! Neat! I got a really bad picture which I was pretty proud of until now. Yes, it’s a pitiful picture considering the luck I’ve had lately. He read the same rules about sharks that I suspect is closer to the truth. Be ready to turn off the light….shhhhh.
And then there was a shrimp inside a coral. Their eyes reflect the flashlight. The problem is that they retreat from the light. So you’ve got to play peek a boo. Well, about all I got was the glowing eyes. Yes, it is only a matter of time before what you thought once was good, was not so good after all.
I’m still diving. The water is still in the 80’s. For those of you in the snow and sleet of winter…my regrets. This image was taken during a night dive. The shrimp is about the size of your thumbnail. It’s small! And it’s shy! The tip I got was from master photographer who said they were there to begin with. You look under the coral and look for something reflecting back your flashlight beam. Once you see two glowing eyes, shove your camera in there and shoot. The shrimp are not hanging around to get their picture taken. They move. And you can’t see to shoot because you have your hand under a coral to get the camera close enough for a decent magnified exposure. You are really just in a ‘shoot and pray’ mode. The photographers with the big rig – macro domes, wide-angle lenses, and articulated armed flashes – probably have a better percentage of success. But as always the trick is to find these guys first. I have several images and someday I’ll get a better one. If you look closely you can see the eyes and six legs plus two long antennae. The creature is not even enough to make a mouthful.