One of the highlights of my adventure-filled life was being able to take my younger daughter, Chloe, scuba diving in Indonesia this past June. We had an amazing time and she got to see what a healthy coral reef looked like. It was not really an underwater photography trip, but I still brought along my Ikelite housing to take a few photos when the opportunities presented themselves. This is my favorite image from a dive site in Komodo National Park called Batu Bolong. I became enamored with this coral and sponge covered rock and love how the sun filtered through the water column while the reef fishes swirled above 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.
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.
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.
Of all my photos that I created during my recent Indonesian adventure to the Misool Ecoresort, this is the one that I had most envisioned. Indonesia is well known for its spectacular reefs, and Raja Ampat is considered to have some of the most pristine in the world. I was not disappointed. Before my trip, I was anxious about my learning curve to create an image like this. I think that every photographer should try taking a picture outside of their comfort zone once in a while. I initially struggled with balancing an ambient light exposure with fill-flash from my powerful underwater strobes, but I overcame these limitations after my first few days of diving. Freeing myself from the technical aspects of underwater photography allowed me to focus on composition. Once I figured out where to look for soft corals on the side of boomies (underwater pinnacles), I was able to realize my creative vision. Clearly the focus of this image is the neon soft corals surrounded by tropical fish, but I added texture to an otherwise featureless blue background by angling my camera up towards the surface. The clouds in the sky above also added color. I find it interesting that clouds play an important role in underwater landscape photography just like they do above water. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens with a +3 diopter in my Ikelite 5DmkII housing with dual DS160 strobes set to -3 power. This image required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.