I recently returned home to the island of Kauai after spending the last month visiting family and friends on “the mainland”. While vacationing with my wife’s family on the East Coast, I spent a few days photographing sharks from Rhode Island. It was a fantastic experience and I might even go so far as to claim that it was my favorite shark trip that I have ever done. Brian was a fantastic host and guide, and though the boat ride left me a little green in the gills each day, I would highly encourage any aspiring shark photographer to book a trip with Pelagic Expeditions.
I had hoped to photograph a mako shark during my 3 days on the water, but only saw one a few fleeting times. Dang, it was fast and my photos unremarkable. Fortunately, there were a lot of curious blue sharks that stayed around the boat and provided me with plenty of photo opportunities. This is one of my favorite images of a blue shark passing incredibly close to my dome port. I need to point out that I was not in a cage, but simply floating on the surface while having the hull of the boat against my back for safety. There were usually 2 or 3 blue sharks swimming around, so it was easy to keep track of them, but by my last dive there were at least a half dozen sharks taking turns at bumping into my camera. I spent about 30 minutes in the water solo before deciding that I had enough of sharks bumping into me.
I have to admit that it was wonderful to get back in the water scuba diving during my recent South Pacific adventure. All the transitions and disruptions in my life the last few years simply did not leave me with any time to be able to dive. The last time I really dove was 4 years ago when I first visited Fiji. Fortunately, my recent trip to Vanuatu required me to fly through Fiji, so I planned a week of diving on the Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Straits. This was an area that I had not visited during my previous trip, but had always heard fantastic things about. I flew up to Taveuni and stayed at a wonderful resort for 10 days. I ended up diving with another resort than where I was staying, but it all worked out. Over the course of 9 days of diving, I got to know a few sites exceptionally well and planned my subsequent dives around the ideal currents. The current was totally ripping when I created this image, so it was challenging to say the least. This is one of my favorite bommies which was covered in soft corals while being enveloped in clouds of colorful anthias.
This is my favorite underwater walrus image from my Svalbard sailing expedition last summer with my co-leader Tony Wu. Early in our trip, we encountered walrus resting on iceflows with ideal blue sky conditions that allowed for great underwater visibility. As both the trip leader and inflatable boat driver, I cautiously motored towards a group of walrus to allow my clients to photograph them without disturbing them. Eventually, I delicately approached them and got close enough to extend my underwater polecam out to shoot the most curious animal. I love how he is looking right at the camera and the detail in this image is truly amazing. I created this image using my Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera body and 15mm fisheye lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkIII housing with an Aquatech 8″ dome port and remotely triggered it on the end of my monopod. I processed the RAW file using Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC 2015, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.
I want to start sharing some of my incredible new images from my spectacular Svalbard expedition that I co-lead with Tony Wu this past June. I have been hesitant to publish what I consider to be some of my best work ever given the fact that publishing photos is not what it used to be, not to mention that a lot of my work gets used without compensation by copyright infringers. However, I can not be afraid of holding back my new photos forever.
This is an underwater walrus image that I created while standing in the Arctic Ocean, holding my polecam, and waiting for a walrus from the nearby colony to swim up to me. Eventually, this very curious walrus took interest and swam directly at me as I nervously stood my ground with my polecam held under the surface in front of me. I blindly fired away as this extraordinary encounter unfolded. After the walrus grew tired of staring at its reflection on my dome port, it gently settled into the shallow water in front of me and proceeded to scratch itself for what seemed like an eternity. It was truly an unimaginable experience as both of us were just relaxed and hanging out at the beach while enjoying each other’s company. I created this image using my Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera body and 15mm fisheye lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkIII housing with an Aquatech 8″ dome port and remotely triggered it on the end of my monopod. I processed the RAW file using Adobe Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CC 2015, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.
One of my false clown anemonefish images was published on the October cover of Sport Diver! I photographed this clownfish while visiting the Misool Ecoresort located in Raja Ampat, Indonesia in March 2011. (Man, was that trip really almost 5 years ago?) I had always wanted to photograph these charismatic fish ever since watching Finding Nemo a thousand times with my older daughter when she was little. When I returned from the trip, I recall one of my good dive buddies telling me that clownfish images were a dime-a-dozen and I would never publish them. Surprisingly, I have proven him wrong and published them widely. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII and 100mm f2.8 macro lens in my Ikelite 5DmkII housing with dual Ikelite DS160 strobes set on TTL. This image required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
One of my underwater Steller sea lion images is featured on the cover of this month’s issue of Canadian Wildlife. Scuba diving with these curious pinnipeds is one the highlights of my entire photography career. Over the years, I have had a lot of success publishing these images from my January 2009 dive trip to Hornby Island in British Columbia. (Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?) It’s nice to see that an “older” image that I created using my original Canon 5D is still valuable and publishable.
Since I am getting ready to fly back to Hawaii tomorrow afternoon, I decided to share an image from my last trip to Kona in November. I got very lucky several days in a row by experiencing my first encounters with sperm whales. This photo was taken moments after one swam directly at me to check me out and then inverted itself vertically in the water. I don’t know whether this image is epic or not, but it is one of my first sperm whale images all the same. What I like most about going out on the water in Kona is that I never know what I will encounter. Every day is different. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.
I am excited to share that I have the cover photo on this month’s issue of Scuba Diving! I photographed this humpback whale calf while visiting Tonga in August 2012. It was especially playful and pretty much swam right over me while I was snorkeling next to it. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.
Over the years, I have tried to photograph pilot whales while visiting Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, but been unsuccessful. However, during my recent visit I had a close encounter with this pod. After observing them logging (resting) on the surface, I cautiously entered the water and photographed this curious mother and calf. It was an exhilarating experience, especially given the unpredictable reputation of these large animals. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.
I recently made some progress on editing my backlog of humpback whale images from Tonga last year and thought that this one was worth sharing. I was very lucky to be able to spend 90 minutes photographing this very relaxed mother-calf pair. They spent most of the time calmly resting on the surface during which the calf moved around a lot and curiously check me out. This was an amazing experience, which is why I can’t wait to return to Tonga in 2014 to lead a few week-long tours in search of more encounters like this. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkIII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Ikelite 5DmkIII housing. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS6, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s white balance filter.