I photographed this scene while visiting exotic Bora Bora in French Polynesia‘s Society Islands this past December. I have never experienced water that was as turquoise as this. I created this image by flying my new DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian drone over the atoll’s outer reef and waiting for the perfect balance of direct sunlight and clouds. The reason that I was visiting Bora Bora was that I had chartered a sailboat with some friends and my father. I grew up sailing with my family on the Great Lakes, so it was special that my dad was able to join me. I especially like the dappled sunlight below the ocean’s surface and the gentle waves washing over the top of the reef. Ahh, paradise.
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.
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.
What can be better than photographing sunset? How about photographing sunset while underwater? A number of variables had to perfectly come together in order to shoot this scene, including the soft corals, colorful anthias, and dramatic low-angle sunlight. I especially like the dramatic sunbeams penetrating beneath the waves.
Do I need to get any closer to my subject? This is as close as anyone ever needs to get to a bull shark. I took this picture while shark diving with Beqa Adventure Divers during my recent scuba diving trip to Fiji. Many people ask me if I am ever scared around sharks? I have total respect for these wild creatures, however, being timorous does not allow me to photograph them.
I love photographing soft coral reef scenes. Who can blame me when there is more color in this image than almost any sunset that I have ever experienced? It was made in the Namena Marine Reserve during my recent trip to Fiji. I was happy that I was able to spend 2 days diving in this spectacular area and experienced ideal conditions. When I return to Fiji to scuba dive again, I am going to devote a week just to the Namena dive sites.
I have been back home from my amazing scuba diving adventure in Fiji for almost 2 weeks. I have also been on a self-imposed social media holiday for the last month, so hopefully my friends and fans will find my new underwater images worth the wait.
My Fiji trip began with 10 days of scuba diving based on the Nai’a liveaboard during which we traveled through the Bligh Waters to the Koro Sea. I dove most of Fiji’s better known dive sites, but my favorites were located in the Namena Marine Preserve. This is where I where I photographed this orgy of color which includes brilliant soft corals and swarms of colorful anthias. In order to create this image, I had to scuba dive when the current was moving fast enough so that the soft corals were inflated and the fish were schooling together. However, the current makes it very difficult to maintain my place in the water column, so I resort to a combination of kicking and drifting into position while composing with my viewfinder and making sure not to disturb the reef. No wonder I go through air so fast. I also spent most of the dive trying to get the reef fish to cooperate by all swimming in the same direction and filling out the frame. That is not an easy task, but I eventually got everything to line up.
I spent much of my visit to the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island photographing over-underwater split images. This is one of my favorites. I like the coral reef with the refracted light dancing across the sandy bottom below with the dramatic scenery and clouds above. There are even a few tropical fish visible in the original, though, I doubt any of my readers will be able to see them at this resolution. Creating an image like this required a lot of trial and error. Waves were constantly washing over the front of my dome, so I had to remove the water drops with a hand towel which I kept underneath a ballcap on my head. I’m glad that I had the whole beach to myself as I must have looked like a dork, but it got the job done. It was also really hot. Most of the Samoans stayed in the shade during the hottest part of the day, but I was out there swimming with my camera under the intense sun getting thoroughly sunburned. But it was fun. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens with a B+W +2 graduated neutral density filter inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech 8″ dome port. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Since I returned home last week, I have not had a lot of time to edit my new images, but this one is definitely worth sharing. I photographed this dramatic sunset while visiting the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island last month. It took a lot of effort to travel this out-of-the-way tropical destination, which was part of the charm, but also explains why it is the least visited of the US National Parks. I stayed at the Vaoto Lodge where Jim, Ben, & Marge were delightful hosts. Other than the 2 researchers who were doing coral studies, I had the entire stretch of beach in the Park all to myself. I photographed a number of brilliant sunrise and sunsets, but this was the most spectacular. As much as I travel, it is still special when the clouds light up with intense color like this. I composed this image by framing the dramatic peaks in the distance with this eroded limestone shelf with waves washing over it in the foreground. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Yesterday was my last day in Hawaii. Overall, the trip was exciting and adventurous, yet the photo opportunities were limited. The volcanic haze (vog) foiled almost every sunset landscape image that I tried to shoot. I also went boating 4 days to try and shoot some underwater wildlife. Even though I encountered spinner dolphins, pilot whales, and oceanic white tip sharks, none of them came close enough to me in the water to capture a publishable image. I always say that you better enjoy the boat ride when you are looking for pelagic critters. The chances of finding them are few and far between, yet when you do, it is an incredible experience.
I lucked into this image yesterday morning while snorkeling near the Place of Refuge. My flight home was not until the afternoon, so I decided to go for one last swim. Almost immediately, I found some green sea turtles feeding underwater, but soon turned my attention to a large school of yellow tangs that were moving back and forth in the wave surge. I noticed how dramatic the waves appeared in the background of my useless fish photos, so I turned my attention to capturing the drama of the large waves breaking over the coral reef. After some trial and error, I got my timing down for when I should dive underneath the surface and how to angle my camera up to shoot as the waves boiled over the reef. Of course right after the waves hit me, I felt like I was on the inside of a washing machine! It was challenging, but I had a lot of fun shooting something different.