I haven’t seen one since the winter. I guess they go south. Who knows? But in the last few dives I’ve seen a few. Or, maybe it’s the same guy. They are pretty solitary. Except someone has pictures of them mating. Have a look. Tell me who’s the boy and who’s the girl. Nope. Not here, it’s one or the other. This is one skittish octopus. It changed color and camouflage several times. It did not slip under the coral and hide. So this series gives you an idea of the show it put on for me. I happened along at the right moment. My buddy drifted patiently nearby while I feasted with my camera. Later he told me his battery was dead. The happy ending is that we saw him again on the next dive. Can you imagine? Of course you can’t. It’s near to impossible to go back and see the same creature again. So maybe the second time was the she we’ve been wondering about.
The base color is a deep brown. I’ve seen the octopus touch down on the coral and change color and texture in a matter of seconds. Curiously, this guy did not squirt ink. He put on a great show for me – all for free.
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.
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.
Nice detail and nice background. Well, the detail in the coral helps the image. It’s why I took the image. So here’s the process. Did you want to know? No? Skip the rest and look at the fishie. First you swim by. You see the fish. You determine if it will stay put. Then you turn on the camera and the flash. Macro? Set up things by twirling the buttons and dials. Flash is done manually. There is no auto exposure. You set it up. And you set up the depth of field. And you make sure your background is uncluttered. And at high mag you are moving and so it’s exceedingly difficult to hold still while the current is pushing you up and down and to and fro. Meanwhile steady your hand and move in close whilst not scaring the poor fishie. He moves and your shot is toast. Still with me? Then you are indeed my friend. I imagine most folks would have given up on me way back. Ha! No paragraph. It makes it harder to skip ahead. Maybe you were reading along because you thought I might teach you something.
At the end of the day I like the detail in this white coral. I’d never post this image except the fishie got cooperative and stayed so that the two together make a good pair. You think this is easy? I now understand how to shoot a gun. You hold your breath and press the shutter slowly. Anything else and everything is moving and you don’t have much chance to hit a target or to get your image in focus. I’m getting quite good at holding my breath. No! That is the first rule of scuba. Breathe normally – in and out – and – out and in. But then again rules can be stretched without breaking. I’m holding in place. My lungs will be just fine. I will not pass out from lack of oxygen. And I got the shot!
In the movies the good guy shoots while falling out of a car and shoots three villians between the eyes in three shots. What you see here is a good shot. How it got here was a journey. Breathe in, breathe out.
Bigg’s Museum ran a photo contest and I was seduced into entering. Like everything else I did not spend too much time in selecting three images for submission. You got to enter three images for $35. I think it was a fundraiser for the museum. I was persuaded to do this. Flattered into doing it. You know the drill. So I collected about twenty shots and they were passed around and around. The jury of my close admirers picked and debated. I submitted these images. I am perfectly happy to have lost. Someone better than me won. The images make me happy. In the end I have so many images that are good. Some are technically good. And others are artistically sound. There’s a difference.
The best example I could give was in painting figures. Dave and I painted detailed figures for a game we played. Jules did for a while but then lost interest. Dave kept me at it. I was technically sound. After all I was a surgeon and good with fine detail. So I could paint tiny detail and get it just so. Dave painted too. He was a kid. Mistakes and all. But his finished product was better than mine. Forget detail. We had both painted the same figures and his were better. Art. He had that “je ne sais quoi” (I don’t know what) that cannot be translated by technical excellence. That’s the difference in knowing and winning. I’m just happy that there are some folks who like what I’ve done.
By the way, the fish kissing was real and not post processed. Yes, they came together for a second, long enough for me to get the shot. I imagine it wasn’t kissing but then again, what else?
Hey! A new trick. Multiple photos are place in a mosaic. Where have I been WordPress?
I know I talking macro photography like it’s a new discovery. And for me the fascination is in the learning. Technique is half the battle. Not that you might care too much, and besides, why do they call it macro? I think that micro would be a better way to describe something close up. You know, like micro-scope? Or microscopic slide. But nope, they call it macro photography. Which is, get in close, get very close. A zoom lens does not cut it. Underwater the more distance the more dust in your way to ruin the sharpness of your image. So I got the first part ok. The next trick is composition. Background matters. And the detail – oo la la! The fish has horns. Don’t ask. I’m just taking the picture. I got a profile. It’s what I could get. Right and left side. And his mouth is open and you see reflections off the lens of the eye. When you consider that the camera takes care of itself I feel fortunate to have the capability to utilize its potential. There is some skill involved. You have to know when to press the shutter. Otherwise it’s pretty simple.
So red, the background, it’s coral – you know – it’s why they call it the Red Sea. And my fish posed perfectly. And if he had not, the image would not have been nearly as striking. I am just getting beyond where I happy to just have a macro image. Now I can go for composition and background. Yay! I’m still not giving up my day job.
The chicken or the egg? Clownfish reproduce. Cool! They laid their eggs on the wall of coral beside their protector, the anemone. Mama, papa, they look the same to me. That’s a nice thing. Eggs need protection. We were a few days early. I showed you the embryos with eyes not too long ago. Now, I got a few really nice images close-up. The eggs in fact look pretty detailed. I have no complaint. It’s not easy to spot the eggs. And then the fish nip at you as you move in to take a picture. Alas, by the time we return in a week the eggs will have hatched. Not many will survive to maturity. I’d come back to photograph the developing eggs but I have a day job.
Look, I admit to being a certain age. And it’s beyond middle. Who lives to 100? That’s all I will say. I discovered I needed glasses when I was lost in Puerto Rico and tried but failed to read a map in a rental car’s interior dome light. That’s another story. But suffice to say when I visited my good buddy ophthalmologist he said, “You need glasses. Go to K Mart (yup, K Mart!!) and get a pair of 1.50 reading glasses.” Darn if that didn’t work for almost twenty years. I’m pretty lucky. My vision without glasses is good mostly. Dim light is bad for me. In the operating room, well, that’s different. I used strong headlight illumination – halogen then xenon. It worked till recently. Then I succumbed and got proper prescription glasses which I promptly crushed in my pocket. So now they are always on my head to avoid crush injury.
Back to my post… I dive with a guy who would be supernatural. He must have another sense. Maybe he sees infrared. But no, that won’t work in an ocean full of marine life. Who knows?! The son of a gun can spot things that mere mortals, even with good vision, cannot possibly see. This nudibranch is tiny. How small? Smaller that 1/16 inch. Who knows. It was so small that he took my close up lens and piggybacked it to his and then shot with +20 diopter. I hovered. It looked like dust, maybe a piece of stray debris. I mean I was looking now that he was all over the subject. Yeah. Really! And when I took my turn and got my shot, I could only see this in retrospect on the screen of my computer. Yes, it ain’t fair that some people can spot stuff I would have no ordinary hope of seeing. Hey! Look close, the rhinopores have striations. That’s really fine detail. Do I sound impressed? Well, I am unabashedly happy to have been there to get this shot.
For fun. There are a group of divers at the resort who freedive. It’s a sport and a famous champion woman died in the Mediterranean recently. You dive with long fins in a camou dive suit. And there is no tank. And you train. And it is dangerous. And you don’t see much fish. And there’s not much to photograph. Well, to me it is about as sexy as eating broccoli. Yes, they do this for fun. I watched an instructor pour a tea cup of water through his nose to clear his sinuses. That was pretty sexy too – about as much so as a second helping of that broccoli. Remember? I never finished it. Every once in a while we see them frolicking – ok ok – training. It makes for a nice picture. I have a new dive computer. It’s a Suunto – made in Finland. It’s a great computer used by most of the serious divers around here and recommended highly to me. The computer cable to my Mac does not work. The dive watch does not connect. The Finns made a piece of crap cable and software connection that is a complete opaque piece of junk to connect. There, I ranted against this great watch. But what good is it that I paid an extra $100 for the cable and can’t get the benefit? (I hope you see this Suunto company. So far you have not solved my problem.) Anyway the dive watch has settings: Air, freedive, nitrox, and off. You set the watch before your dive. Duh? So one day I messed up. I hit the tiny buttons and the dive watch set itself for freedive. And when I was underwater I was locked in. So for 78 minutes I was underwater on a scuba dive and the watch was calculating a freedive. Oh my! I set a new world record.
I’m friends with the instructor who pours tea through his nose. (Don’t ask.) I showed him my watch and he laughed and laughed. These characters take pictures of their dive watches after a successful freedive. He declined a photo of my watch. Not famous enough I guess.
I’m not using macro. And I’m not challenging. He’s not challenging either. The coral hind is a big chicken. Well, he’s a fish that would prefer to flee rather than confront. I trap them periodically under coral. Nowhere to retreat. Or he feels like I can’t pursue. Or, he thinks I can’t see him. Who knows? Anyway, I can occasionally get a good head on shot. Ok, done, been there, done it. Now I got teeth. I know sharks have teeth. So too does this brand of fish. They are not large. Do they fall out and are they replaced by new sharp teeth that will rip your guts out? Ah! And why don’t fish have eyebrows?