WOW! That is a very short summary of my recent trip to the Misool Ecoresort in Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. I am still getting over my jetlag, but starting to process my new images. I shot a variety of subjects from wide-angle soft coral underwater landscapes to above water remote beach sunsets, but some of my favorite images are of the anemonefish. I have wanted to photograph them ever since I first saw them underwater during my visit to Indonesia in 2000 and later while watching “Finding Nemo” hundreds of times with my daughters. It took me a few years, but I finally had the opportunity during this trip. These fish are constantly darting around in an agitated state while having a cute expression on their face, which makes them very frustrating to photograph. I spent 20-30 minutes patiently waiting for this clownfish to move into the most aesthetic position, all the while I photographed a hundred or more pictures that required immediate deletion. This image resonates with me for the head-on pouty expression on the clownfish’s face as well as the symmetry of the color and texture of the anemome around it. 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.
This bird I did find in the guidebook. It is called a Bythe’s Hornbill. Pretty wicked looking dinosaur of a bird. This one is the resident pest at Sorido Bay. When I first approached it, I was unaware that it was kinda tame. I took one look at that bill as it was coming at me and considering my past luck with getting bit by exotic critters, I backed off. Some of the locals then came over and showed me that they could actually touch it. I’m still not sold that I’m going anywhere near that beak, but I am quite pleased that I got to use my camera today and came away with some respectable images.
Update on 11/25-I figured out that this bird is a Kingfisher of Paradise.
Today started out very early. I am staying at the Waiwo Field Station of Conservation International. They are kindly putting me up for 2 nights before I start diving tomorrow with Papua Diving. I am trying to photograph the incredibly rare Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. I had to get up very early and hike a long way up hill through the jungle. I wore my sandals and was covered in mud by the time we got to where my guide had scouted the bird. I actually got a glimpse of it twice, but did not get off a single frame. I spent about 4 hours in my blind waiting with all manner of bugs crawling over me and biting the hell out of me. I am taking an anti-malarial drug, so I hope that it works because I’m gonna need it after that trek. Sitting on my knees in the mud in the jungle of Papua, what a treat! I am going to try again tomorrow. This bird is not a BOP, but rather something kinda cool that is not in the field guide that I have been looking through all evening. At least I took some pictures today that I can feel good about.