Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Robust Ghostpipefish

Almost 6 months since my last post, thought I’d better do something about it. I originally hoped to do a post every week, thought I had plenty of ideas, but found that it is actually quite hard to keep a blog going.
I’m just back from a week diving and relaxing at Cocotinos in Manado. After a couple of years diving elsewhere in Indonesia it was nice to be back there. The diving was a great mix of drifting in the current along the colourful walls of Bunaken and mucking about looking for interesting critters on the sandy slopes on the mainland side. On the last dive our guide Henki spotted this small Robust Ghostpipefish, Solenostomus cyanopterus. A nice way to finish a week’s diving.....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shapes and patterns

Think ‘Shapes and patterns’ was one of the tips the editor of a dive magazine gave me when we talked about my competition entries and what makes a winning photograph. On my next dive trip I started paying more attention to this.
I remember photographing an emperor shrimp on a seacucumber and waiting forever until it moved and was nicely framed on a white band in between two brown patches. I managed to take a few shots before it moved and the results were far more interesting than the photos I took while only concentrating on the shrimp. The Anemone shrimp pictured here is a similar story. A common species I photographed many times before but this time around I positioned myself so I could get a clear shot of the centre of the anemone and waited for the shrimp to move into the frame.

Periclimenes holthuisi, Misool Eco Resort House reef

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pygmy Seahorses

This species of pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) was a recent discovery when we visited Manado some years ago. Due to their size of just about one centimetre and their incredible camouflage they blend in with the background so well they went unnoticed on the walls of Bunaken for many years. Our guide Vanus knew where to find some on a divesite called Lekuan II and took us there on the first day of our stay. He found us an individual and I tried my luck, however its size and the fact that I only owned a 60mm macro lens didn't make it an easy subject. However I was happy to have seen the new species and gave it my best.

Two days later we returned to Lekuan II and found a few individuals in the same area. One of them was feeding on the hydroids they live in and I watched and took some photographs. At 21 meters depth and on the 3rd dive of the day, my computer soon warned me my no-deco time was running out. I knew I had to go up, but stayed a bit longer to watch the feeding behaviour.

Just when I started to go up I saw something move near where the Pygmy I'd been watching was. I looked again and couldn't believe my luck when I saw another seahorse had joined the first one. With my computer still beeping I repositioned my camera and managed to take 3 or 4 more shots before I had to join my buddy already waiting for me a few meters up.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ambon Frogfish

A year ago we met up with Buck and Andy of Maluku Divers while passing through Bali on the way back to Singapore. Buck had just returned from Ambon and wanted to show me a photo of a strange looking frogfish he never came across before. I thought it looked like a Cryptic Frogfish, but when we looked that up we all concluded it wasn’t that. It was a beautifully patterned creature with lines of white and various grades of red/orange. I started calling it a Psychedelic Frogfish because of these patterns.
I was tempted to fly back to Ambon that same day, but it wasn’t until April we finally made it back there. By now it was confirmed to be a new species and everybody was excited when just before we arrived they found one carrying a clutch of eggs behind its curled tail.
The next day on the trip over to Laha my mind drifted away, New species....Carrying eggs.....Photo opportunities.....
The first dive put me back to reality. Laha was giving us the usual overdose of critters and I almost forgot about the frogfish until our dive guide Toby called us over at the end of the second dive. There, taking shelter under a lump of rock was the “pregnant” frogfish.
Two days later I went back to Laha to find the frogfish again with Toby and videographer Mike Veitch. When we found the frogfish hiding deep inside a crack we noticed it was no longer carrying the eggs. We carried on looking for others and managed to find the smaller one pictured here.
We later found the clutch of eggs under a plank a couple of meters away from the hiding place of the larger individual. I took some photographs and when we looked at them later you could see the shape of the juvenile frogfish inside. A new batch of a new species......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coconut Octopus

One of my favourite dive locations is the Lembeh Straits (North Sulawesi). Easy to get to from Singapore and one of the top "Muck" locations in South East Asia. In Lembeh there is always a surprise around the corner, under a rock, buried in the sand or hiding inside an empty bottle. On one of the dives during a macro photography workshop a couple of years ago my guide found this Octopus using two empty halves of a coconut shell as his hiding place. I took around 12 shots saving my film as I was hoping to find something more interesting later on. When I saw the developed film the next day I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Ever since I have been looking for this sort of behaviour. It's amazing to see what an octopus can use to create his hiding place. I've seen them use glass jars, discarded crisps packets, halved drinks cans, empty bivalve shells and bits of bamboo. To me this is one of the things that keeps diving and underwater photography interesting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Welcome to my blog

I decided to start the new year with a new blog for my underwater photography. Each week I will add a new image and a short write up.

A the end of a nightdive on the house reef at Misool Eco Resort I spotted this Cuttlefish in 2m of water under the pier attracted by the lights shining from above. My focusing light wasn't working so I had to hold the camera with one hand and use my torch as a focusing light with the other. He was very cooperative, stayed in the same position for quite a while and disappeared into the dark when I finally managed to fire this single shot.