Sunday, June 29, 2014

Diving Tioman Island, June 2014

We had another fun weekend trip to Tioman Island last weekend.  The school holiday traffic made the journey to and from Tioman Island very painful, but the diving was worth it.  Highlights of the trip were bumphead parrotfish, 2 turtles, and lots of clownfish and anemones.  I had a lot of fun experimenting with the Tokina 10-17mm and Zen 4 inch dome port.  I'm finding it challenging to avoid/minimize backscatter in CFWA shots but am making progress.  Examining some of the pictures, I am not happy with the corner sharpness of the Tokina 10-17mm and mini dome at f/8, so I am going to try f/13-14 as my base aperture from now on.

Hard coral landscape in the shallows. Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100 

Giant sea fan.  Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm, 1/320s, f/13, ISO 100

 Turtle.  Tokina 10-17mm @ 10mm, 1/125s, f/8, ISO 100

Monday, June 02, 2014

Diving Tioman Island, May 2014

A couple of weekends ago, we had an excellent trip to Tioman Island.  It was Taitti's last trip to Tioman for now and a very apt farewell as the conditions and marine life were as good as any of us had ever experienced in Tioman.  It was also my first trip out with my Tokina 10-17mm lens and Zen 4 inch dome port, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of pictures that I was able to get.

Highlights of the trip were having a chance to shoot Grouchy, the resident turtle on Roger's House Reef, seeing 2 bumphead parrotfish and a cuttlefish couple laying eggs at Chebeh, lots of anemones and clownfish at Malang, the biggest spiny lobster I have ever seen on the House Reef, and lots of schools of juvenile fish in general.  The cuttlefish laying eggs in particular was very special for me as I felt blessed to witness such a tender underwater moment.  I saw her placing her eggs within the folds of a large hard coral head while her partner looked on.

This trip renewed my interest in Tioman and left me very grateful that we have such good diving so close to home.  Weekend trips to Tioman are tiring because of the long travel time and many transfers but totally worth it for this quality of diving.  I had a lot of fun with the 10-17mm lens and I'll definitely be spending more time with it learning how to shoot wide angle.

Goodbye Taitti and come back to dive with us again soon!

 Grouchy the turtle.  Tokina 10-17mm @ 17mm, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 100

Broadclub cuttlefish.  Tokina 10-17mm @ 17mm, 1/320s, f/16, ISO 100

Giant spiny lobster.  60mm, 1/320s, f/14, ISO 100

Diving Catalina Island, March 2014

When I was in Los Angeles in March, I had the opportunity to sneak in a day of diving so I contacted Scott Gietler, owner of Underwater Photography GuideBluewater Photo Store, and most recently, Bluewater Travel.  He arranged a day trip to Catalina Island, about 1 hour south of Long Beach by boat.  While Scott was unable to join the dive trip, Brent Durand did instead.  Brent is a cool, laidback dude who has tons of experience with photography and diving Californian waters, and was the perfect buddy.

We met bright and early at Long Beach and after a slow start, were on our way.  Catalina Island is very accessible from LA and is a popular destination for short trips for both divers and land visitors.  We spent the day moored around the island and did 2 leisurely dives among the kelp forests.  The kelp forests are quite a unique underwater environment.  Kelp is a type of gigantic leafy seaweed that stretches from the rocky bottom all the way to the surface.  The fronds create a natural shelter for juvenile fish so the kelp forests tend to be quite fishy.  The highlight of the dives was seeing a few giant sea bass, which can grow up to 2m long, in the distance.  During the surface interval, we had a friendly baby sea lion hop onto the back of our boat and hang out for about an hour, which I understand doesn't happen too often!  We had a very nice sunny day but the water was around 13C, which was a little chilly in my DUI 30/30 drysuit.

My drysuit neck seal had deteriorated significantly since the last time I used it and I had to duct tape it to my neck to keep the seal watertight.  I had to be very careful not to move my head too much to avoid any leaks, and as a result, I wasn't very productive in taking photos.

It was a fun day out and a cool first experience in the kelp forests.  Next time, I will be back with a wide angle lens to try to capture the full splendor of the kelp forests.

Curious Garibaldi.  60mm, 1/320s, f/14, ISO 100

Spiny lobster.  60mm, 1/320s, f/14, ISO 100