Prior to my trip the Solomon Islands, I had researched satellite views of Marovo Lagoon and knew that I had to find a way to photograph the Mindeminde Islands with my drone. This beautiful location featured mangrove covered islands surrounded by interconnected reefs and shallow water. My first logistical challenge was that I needed a boat in order to visit the islands. They were located over an hour away from the dive lodge where I was based, but closer to the airstrip where I had landed. Eventually, some new guests were arriving by plane, so I took advantage of the opportunity to use the boat before they landed. My ideal photography conditions for an aerial image like this are when the sun is directly overhead and there aren’t any clouds casting dark shadows on the vibrant landscape. When I was finally ready to fly, there was one massive cloud causing me some trouble. Fortunately, after a few flights where I explored for compositions, the cloud dissipated and I was rewarded with this brilliant image.
In October 2019, I realized one of my life-long dreams and traveled to the Solomon Islands. I have been sitting on these images for over a year, but now want to start sharing them. The Solomon Islands are infamous for the fierce fighting that took place there between the US Marines and Japanese forces during World War II. They are also a series of idyllic tropical islands surrounded by coral reefs and home to a diverse people with exotic cultures. I began my trip by scuba diving for 10 days at a tiny resort located in Marovo Lagoon. I was the only guest for all but my last few days, though to be fair, they could only host a maximum of 4 guests. I was there long enough that I was able to learn the local reefs and planned my dives around the tidal currents. This image is from my favorite wall next to the village. I was enthralled with the top of the wall covered in soft corals with the mangroves hanging above. This location was at the end of my favorite dive, so I planned accordingly to spend a lot of time there. At less than 10 feet deep, I was able to suck my scuba tank empty as I worked the wall for photos. I loved photographing this spot so much that the dive guides renamed it “Jon’s Spot” in my honor. Sadly, I recently learned that the older American women who ran the resort recently passed away. Lisa was a good friend and she will be missed.
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 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.