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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Urine real trouble now

Contrary to popular belief, everyone sneaks a quick one off when they're diving. Even if they say they don't, they lied. Well here's some scientific study that says "hey, it's ok to pee in the sea". Just make sure you scrub your suit from time to time. Hot climates and urine soaked dive kit get very smelly, very quickly...........

"Again, back to Jones: “The key thing here is that urine is continuously excreted into our natural environment by billions of creatures across the globe, much of it winding up in oceans eventually in one form or another, but this process is perfectly natural. Indeed, it is essential. Without the fertilizing effects of urine nitrogen, many plant species could not survive.”

Link: HERE

So there you go, have at it and pee like you've never pee'd before!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Technical Ecstasy

Well we done double duty today with some wide angle on the new special bit of main wall we found last week. It didn't quite go according to plan of course with a stupidly strong Northerly current causing havoc. You know you're on a hiding to nothing when the current is strong enough to fold the arms back on your rig........

Insert strong current here
However we did manage to grab a few shots before having great drift dive back down the wall to the shore, so it wasn't all bad.

Some great photo opps on the wall despite the crappy current
We weren't disheartened however as the night time is the right time for some of the good stuff and even though it was still a little surgey (if that's even a real word), it was a corking night for macro.

Here we go, dive, dive, dive!
Within the first two minutes we had some excellent finds. I found a lovely pair of tritonia hamnerorum and a bristleworm hanging out on a seafan which was a real challenge to shoot given I was bouncing off of every piece of rock thanks to the conditions.

They could be spelling out my initials. If I were called A reverse J.......

A couple of metres away Jill found another bristleworm on another seafan but something incredibly small waving around on top of the fan clinging on for dear live was the smallest striated seahare. I couldn't get a shot of it as the seafan was flapping around like a loose sail.

At this point the little seahare gave up the fight and let go, landing straight onto my hand! I had to grab a shot of him before I carefully put him back in a more secure position.

He's so cute and tiny. I will call him Bert
So the first five minutes of the dive proved to be a real score for some super macro work. There a were also a good number of gobies and blennies hanging out in the current not to mention a few banded jawfish looking happy as usual. Not.

No, I've never seen a happy jawfish either........
There were loads of arrow crabs hanging around as well with quite a few getting into some serious scuffles with legs and claws flying everywhere. Either that, or it was some serious foreplay.....

"Come on, put 'em up! I ain't afraid of you!"
We had some monstrous channel crabs scuttle past us as well, one of which was missing a couple of legs. I assumed he was a marine veteran.......yes I know my jokes never improve.
We also had the good fortune to find a long horn nudi scuttling about on a sponge. 

Unfortunately it was about this time the blood worms started to come out in vast numbers and cause real headaches with obscuring the shot. I got a half decent one but not the real show stopper I was looking for. Maybe next week............

We were also fortunate to have a number of yellow spotted rays some of which were more than happy to follow us around for a bit and have their picture taken. Which was nice.

So friendly
By the end of the dive, the blood worms were just making it impossible to get some shots in so it was time to call it a night but not before we got buzzed by a squadron of squid which was a nice way to round of the evening. 

And on that note, Who held the baby octopus to ransom? Squidnappers! Boom-Boom! I thank you!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The house of blue lights

We hit Lighthouse first thing in the morning to concentrate of some wide shots and to do a little more exploration to find some ideal scenery.

It wasn't till the end of the dive that we found a small section of the main wall that had everything. Overhangs, swimthroughs, loads of sponges and corals and plenty of marine life. 

Unfortunately as we we were skirting close to the fringes of deco we didn't get any shots but we made a note of where it was for a return visit through the week. We did get a couple of turltes giving us a fly by on the way back to shore though, so not a bad dive.

Turtle are 3 o'clock! Dive! Dive!
The best was yet to come as we headed back out later that night to get some more diving in and to try out this little thing below, the Sola Nightsea blue light, and see what we could see.

Darkness fell. *Thunk!*
The surge was pretty evil tonight so I didn't hold out much hope for getting the best shots ever as as we were bounced along the hardpan in the shallows, but still managed to grab some. So with a homebrew blue light setup on my rig, I managed to capture some interesting shots.

Not everything "pops" under blue light, so it's not something you would do the entire dive on and when you have the yellow filter visor on, you lose any available ambient light there may be. It's like night diving with sun glasses on. But when you light up the right thing at the right time, the effects can be very pleasing. 

Things that you wouldn't normally see suddenly start shining like a beacon. Bristleworms for example are everywhere, in every nook and cranny, the place is littered with them. But switch back to white light and you would never know they were there and never see them.

Juvenile crab on brain coral. I would never have spotted this under white light.
However there are drawbacks to blue light, first is the expense, just a modelling light alone is well over £500 and that's before you start adding any mask visors or camera filters. But this by itself isn't sufficient for quality photography work as you need one if not two of the blue light strobes for best results but then we're getting in to very silly money indeed. 

Also there are some critters that absolutely hate blue light and go nuts trying to get away from it. For me, the amount of times it would get used just doesn't justify the outlay. And I personally I get more of challenge shooting with white light, but each to their own. Should you get an opportunity to try out blue light on a night dive then I can highly recommend it for the experience, but for photography, not so much.

So tinkering around with blue light was a fun experience, but I was here to get some serious macro stuff done. Lets go to work! There was plenty of pedersons and barber shrimps on the prowel not to mention one or two peacock flounders. This one loved the camera, he spent ages trying to look at itself in the port. Which is a bit tricky if your face is all on one side!

"I was born this way, what's your excuse?"
There were also some squid bombing around near the surface. I had one swim right into the camera lens, but it happened so fast I couldn't re-adjust the strobes quick enough so I have an out of focus squid shaped blurry type thing. A real shame. 

On the plus side Jill did find a yellow stingray which was parked right underneath me whilst i was taking a shot of something else. However, unlike 633068 who visited us recently, I actually saw what she was pointing at and took the shot. :-P

"Where's 633068 when I want a picture taken now?"
Red legged and red striped hermits where also highly active night which leads me to believe that they may be students as they do b*gger all during the day and go nuts when they go out at night time.........

"You can trust me completely, I'm totally transparent......."
I am also pleased to announce that nudis where out in force, this time it was some lovely little juvenile tritonia hamnerorum, or gorgonian maggots to give them their common name, but tritonia hamnerorum just sounds nicer.

Small slug on a small sea fan
That made my night for me as everyone knows I love my nudis and despite conditions, managing to get the shot as well so I'm a happy camper. 

As an added bonus there was also a juvenile bristleworm close by as well so that had to get photographed, it would be rude not to...........

"Don't forget about me!"

And for a final parting shot, there was this tiny chap hiding under a little piece of sea grass.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Ray of light

Well another slow week in the papers as another of my pictures gets "Photo of the week". This time it's in Stingray City with our friend Fi taking centre stage with the rays. 

Given this is the Caymans, they have of course given the photo credit to Fi instead of me.

Credit where credit is due though, she did make for a good model on the day and didn't complain (too much!)

Well done Fi, that's an awesome shot you've managed to take of yourself!! :-D

Invisible Touch

Ok, so I can see the merit in this to some extent, however, given that bee stings kill 20 times more people per year than sharks then it makes me wonder why they aren't busy devoting their efforts into making some sort of amazing bee repellent and leaving the poor bloody sharks alone!

Link: HERE

Scientists from the University of Western Australia and designers from Shark Attack Mitigation Systems, collaborated to create two new wetsuits that are designed to act as something of an inadvisability cloak to sharks.

Currently, the designs have been tested around tiger sharks, but have not yet been tested worn on humans. However the initial results were reportedly so promising that the suits were already put up for sale.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Midnight Rider

What can I say? Just in from a stupendously good night dive, not least because I found one of my beloved nudibranchs! That's the whole dive for me right there, but to be fair there was plenty other goodies out there this evening.

The sun slides lazily towards the horizon as we kit up
We worked up and down the mini wall checking every nook and cranny to see what was out and about this evening. Red stripe hermit crabs were in abundance all over the coral along with some really nice white speckled hermit crabs, not to mention the odd turtle sculling past as well.

Red and speckled. I wonder what sort of hermit crab this is.......?
Brittle stars were pretty active tonight along with a multitude of yellow line arrow crabs, a healthy dollop of banded coral shrimp and a smattering of sleeping soapfish..

A pair of red stripe hermits get it on for the camera. Bow-chick-a-bow-wow!
I was off busy pestering some sharp nose puffer when Jill made a good spot of a common octopus out for quick scuttle. He was well up for being in front of the camera and got some nice video footage of him gliding and parachuting across the hardpan. It was like watching a ball of colour changing elastic. Amazing!

A lovely octopus but hardly common in my opinion
Video embedding is a bit wonky just now but here's a link to some octopus fun: HERE

There was plenty of life on the rope sponges and seafans as well so it really pays off to take your time and have a really close look. I found a fantastic decorator crab sitting on a seafan which I nearly swam right over it.
It's so fluffy!!
The one down side that gets annoying is if you shine your lights in one spot for too long you get mobbed by bloodworms which are bloody (no pun intended) annoying especially if you're shooting macro because if one gets in front of the lens then it potentially wipes out your subject.  

I was lucky to get a shot of the nudi towards the end of the dive, the bloodworms were a lot bigger! I found a lovely juvenile gold line sea goddess tucked at the base of a sponge but the bloodworms were swarming everywhere. With a bit of luck and a lot of swearing the shot paid off in the end though......

"Look! Look! A nudi! I found one!!"

What a perfect way to end out the dive, with a nudibranch. Life doesn't get better than that!

A sharp nose puffer prior to being annoyed by me

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Scuba Photo Contest

As you are probably aware, the Scuba Diving Community is one of the largest on Google+ and very active with close to 11500 members and still growing fast. 

Just now, we are currently holding a contest for the best underwater photo so we can update our community photo. 

If you have any photos you would like to share with us, simply pop in and see us at the link below and post any photo(s) in the Underwater Photography section and tag them with #scubaphotocomp. 

The winner will be decided by the community members voting on them. 

What are you waiting for? Lets see those shots!!

Link: HERE

Friday, 12 July 2013

F-stop Blues

Well the past week has been totally epic with 37.6 GB of photos shot just by myself alone and one poor instructors nerves frayed at the end (mine by the way!), but it was worth it as the diving was exceptional covering wrecks, caverns, wall, night, shore and boat diving all over the island and I think everyone went away pretty happy by the end. 

Way too many pictures to show, these were just some of the highlights, with the bulk being kept back for private use and magazine articles but I'm sure you get the idea.

Tarpons hunting amongst the silversides
I've done a lot of night diving in my time but this week was epic, some of the best I've ever done.
A halo of fish

Amongst good friends
Why so stern?.....

Silent vigil

Out from the depths

 So many stories to tell but I am forced to remain silent to protect a ladies modesty (such as it is!). Lets just say that she would have been perfectly in sync to diving in Australia and leave it at that.

Lovely bristle worm

A pair of pistol shrimp waiting for their next victim

Tiny little velvet shrimp

The littlest octopus

Absolutely spoiled for choice between scenic and macro and it was a touch call to decide which lens to put on. Some dives were loaded with rays and turtles but as we were doing macro work we had to let them go. Remember, decide prior to getting in as to what the focus of your dive will be. You can't do everything.
Female rough head blenny

Juvenile orange sided goby

"Don't come any closer or I'll jump!"

I title this one the laughing eel........

Spot the good looking one out the diver and the lobster........


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Bob Song

Another slow week in the newspaper as I get another photo of the week in print. No underwater shot mind you, this time it was for Bob the iguana that spent three days hanging off our front window. Bob would be pleased.

The next post will be getting back into the realms of the aquatic as we've been hitting the water the last three days solid with another two days to go. Some cracking shots as well. Hopefully tomorrow will yield a seahorse of three. We shall see.............

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Secret of the sea

How big is the ocean? Well let TED fill you in using words and pictures to describe how staggeringly large the ocean is and how much of the world it covers. We really do need take care of it better.

"While the Earth's oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean. So, how big is it? As of 2013, it takes up 71% of the Earth, houses 99% of the biosphere, and contains some of Earth's grandest geological features."