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Diving with the seals in Farne islands (UK)

seal seals grey seal farne colony UK

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#1 Nicool

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 01:08 AM

Hello Wetpixelers!

 

After lurking on it for years, last month i've finally made it to the Farne Islands (facing Seahouses, Northumberland, UK) for 1 week family vacations, but with a side-agenda to go diving with the famous grey seals.

 

I think i don't need to introduce this destination since there have been some wetpixel trips organized over there in the past, plus a recent article from Alex Mustard on front page mentioning it too.

 

Nevertheless, i'll be happy to help with any question you may have on the diving there.

 

We had planned for 4 days of diving (each day including one double-tank trip, so 2 dives/day), but unfortunately the sea conditions allowed for only 1 day... I've asked the boat operator if there was a better time of the year to come back, but apparently we've just had very bad luck, and October is supposed very good to dive there.

 

Still, i've taken a few pictures which i am happy enough about, but i would really appreciate your constructive criticism on which ones to improve, and how.

 

thanks a million!

 

Nicolas



#2 Nicool

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 01:23 AM

For this trip, i shot with my Nikon D500 in Nauticam housing, using Tokina 10-17mm. Unfortunately i found out that the zooming ring got disengaged at the very beginning of the first time, so i was stuck at... 10mm! Ok not the worst, but to be honest i've done some cropping in Lightroom for some pics, i'll say which ones.

 

In terms of viz, i think we were OK, i'd say about 3-4 meters on the first dive (max depth 6 meters), whereas more 2-3 meters on the second one (max depth 4 meters).

 

Note: you can see bigger size photos on our Flickr account (just click on the picture).

 

First dive:

Slight cropping on this young, playful guy:

30494258646_92464b05f2_c.jpgNLR_3357.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

Obviously cropped too, as i thought the sides were not so interesting (though OK-lit):

30232485310_0c14cd8bca_c.jpgNLR_3353.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

This is one of my buddies wearing those white fins that seals liked very much:

30465031551_5bbc21fd52_c.jpgNLR_3371.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

I was happy with following pic, though i can't help noticing the top of the seal isn't fully lit and you can see a greeny cast. However i am not sure anything can be done given the size/shape of the animal (had it lit its top, i would have had greeny shadows below i guess):

https://www.flickr.c...57672063848284/

 

A little bit of highlights correction on the right side for this one:

29919679013_16f9bbe502_c.jpgNLR_3386.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

What a funny chap! This big seal was snooring on the bottom and rolling left or right depending on the surge:

https://www.flickr.c...57672063848284/

 

At the end of the dive we've been lucky to have the sun back, so i made my way close to the surface (1 meter or something deep), trying to shoot either natural light or with flashs, i did a bit of both. Here the ability to disable the flash with a right-hand finger comes very handy.

 

So close to the surface:

30544425655_bcb5e45e77_c.jpgNLR_3461.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

And last one for this dive - honesty statement here: it was initially framed horizontally but the sides were empty, so i massively cropped (to make it a vertical). Then it comes handly to have lots of megapixels :)

30530451725_464117385b_c.jpgNLR_3488.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

Looks like my flight is boarding now, so i'll post the second dive photos a bit later!



#3 TimG

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 01:31 AM

Really nice pics. Well done! A shame on the zoom ring but you've sure made the best of it.

 

I'd go for cropping the first one a bit more - the empty space/rock to the right of the seal is, for me, distracting and unnecessary. It's not quite neutral space.

 

I really like the bottom one especially how you have the surface/neutral space above the seal.


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#4 Nicool

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 05:32 AM

Really nice pics. Well done! A shame on the zoom ring but you've sure made the best of it.

 

I'd go for cropping the first one a bit more - the empty space/rock to the right of the seal is, for me, distracting and unnecessary. It's not quite neutral space.

 

I really like the bottom one especially how you have the surface/neutral space above the seal.

Thanks Tim for your useful feedbacks! I agree for the first one, and i would definitely have zoomed in if i had the ability, since he wasn't swimming that fast  :good:



#5 TimG

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 06:38 AM

Yeah, REALLY annoying that the ring came off in the situation you were in. But, hey, happens too us all at some time or another, right!?!


Tim
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Nikon D800 and D500, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE, Tokina 10-17,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#6 E_viking

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 02:16 PM

Hi,

 

I have been intrigued in going there for a lomh time, but living in Munich it includes a flight and a rental car getting there.

So, the hurdle is there...

 

When is the "supposed" best time of the year to go there?

 

 

 

/Erik


Edited by E_viking, 06 November 2016 - 02:25 PM.

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#7 Nicool

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Posted 07 November 2016 - 12:12 PM

Hi,

 

I have been intrigued in going there for a lomh time, but living in Munich it includes a flight and a rental car getting there.

So, the hurdle is there...

 

When is the "supposed" best time of the year to go there?

 

 

 

/Erik

Well you live closed to a large airport and i presume you're used to flying for diving right?

Quite convenient to get there: Seahouses (the town closest to the islands) is between Newcastle and Edimburgh, around 2h driving from both. Both are international airports and offer decent prices for car rental :)



#8 johnohuk

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Posted 07 November 2016 - 01:35 PM

I went in April, absolutely freezing and 2-3m vis.

 

This was the boat = http://sovereigndiving.co.uk/, nice B&B and good skipper. Saw maybe 3 seals over 2 days underwater, they didn't want to play.

 

Went to St Abbs for a few days afterwards with http://divestabbs.com/, much nicer reefs but no seals.

 

You will need a car. I'd guess June/July would be better.



#9 Nicool

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 04:39 AM

I went in April, absolutely freezing and 2-3m vis.
 
This was the boat = http://sovereigndiving.co.uk/, nice B&B and good skipper. Saw maybe 3 seals over 2 days underwater, they didn't want to play.
 
Went to St Abbs for a few days afterwards with http://divestabbs.com/, much nicer reefs but no seals.
 
You will need a car. I'd guess June/July would be better.


What i heard from Sovereign Diving guys is that in May they are not playful as the youngster have not met divers ever at that time.
Later (aug-oct) they will have had plenty of time to get used to divers, and become much more playful.
When arriving at dive sites seals would jump in water and swim towards us.
I've probably interacted with 15-30 seals per dive.

#10 Nicool

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 01:20 PM

Now i am back for posting the pictures of the second (and last...) dive of this trip!

 

My buddies were diving semi-dry and got too cold to jump in again for the second dive of the day, so i had to go back solo (which from a photographer perspective was not too bad, and still very safe - 4 meters max depth).

 

I made the mistake to borrow my buddy's blue fins (mine are normally black), which work very well to attract seals, but not so much to take photos of them, as they stick to your back! 

A picture is better than a thousand words:

30161437643_c682453c78_c.jpgMaking of by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

Some ambient light photography close to the surface:

30245755330_8ded13c841_c.jpgNLR_3550.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

This young guy got interested:

29913379154_1fd1d64f8e_c.jpgthe kiss - part 1 by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

Came investigating...

30232371240_61119e4b30_c.jpgthe kiss - part 2 by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

And trying to taste my mini-dome! Fortunately no visible scratches afterwards :)

30507873246_b700e8f684_c.jpgthe kiss - part 3 by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

Then some close-up portraits:

One which i cropped as i thought it rendered well in square format:

30413983942_68b1b41a62_c.jpgNLR_3566.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

and another one un-cropped - I was surprised to find out that Lightroom's red eye removal feature works well on seals eyes!

30530345785_1121c9f0a1_c.jpgNLR_3571.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

As light was getting lower i tried to capture some sun rays, but i am not too satisfied, probably due to the overall low viz:

30508487816_b3c11af882_c.jpgNLR_3578.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

If you have any suggestions on how to better take such a photo next time, please shoot (exif visible on flickr)!

 

Another curious guy:

30427885102_136d602aed_c.jpgNLR_3606.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

And one resting on the bottom:

30544664775_810da15cb4_c.jpgNLR_3612.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 



#11 Nicool

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 01:23 PM

I had reached my maximum number of photos per message it seems, so here are the two last ones:

 

A young one swimming:

30544714805_11d4500bec_c.jpgNLR_3632.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

 

And this one breathing on the surface... photographed from the bottom:

 

30246481610_ed02e13733_c.jpgNLR_3645.jpg by Nicolas  & Léna REMY, sur Flickr

It's obviously cut on the top but also on the bottom (fin), still i like something in this photo - do you see interest in it?

 

And this was the last of my seal photos! Such a great place for underwater photography, i really want to go back!!



#12 SwiftFF5

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 04:12 AM

That looks like a really fun trip.  Maybe someday I'll get a chance to pack my drysuit and dive there.  Thanks!


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#13 sinetwo

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 12:34 PM

Late to the party, but these are amazing! I can't wait to go at some point...