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Palm Beach Black Water Diving


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#1 laz217

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 09:32 PM

Inspired by the imagery produced by Hawaii's Black Water dives we finally set off on our own version of the Black Water dive out of Palm Beach, FL. on the Deep Obsession dive boat (operated by Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures) this past Friday. We jumped into the Gulf Stream and drifted along the top of 500 feet of water not knowing what to expect.

Having spent the last two years photographing every possible plankton that drifts across these waters I have been at a stalemate for a number of months now. I was uncertain I would find any new creatures. Much to my surprise I was surrounded by new creatures I had never seen and some I was hopeful to see. Most of the creatures were miniscule in size with an occasional moon jelly drifting by. Today would not be the day when we would photograph the giant squid (with a 50mm macro lens), but the smaller critters certainly made up for it.

Now, just as in Hawaii, photographing them was challenging. Drifting in mid water trying to focus on something the size of your pinky nail (or smaller) is no easy task. The good news is we didn't have to worry about any photographer silting up the bottom! :P

Among the creatures that I observed were numerous shrimp larval, flounders in various larval stages, a (pelagic?) pipefish, tons of ctenophores, and even an eel in its larval stage. We will certainly be doing these trips again and I am hopeful that I will get my chance to photograph the elusive giant squid with my 50mm lens real soon. :)

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#2 Steve Williams

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 10:46 PM

Amazing Laz! How deep were you diving? I think the Wetpixel JASA trips just got even longer for you guys. When are you going to sleep?

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#3 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 10:53 PM

Love the flounder! Gorgeous.

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#4 Aqua_soul

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:33 AM

WOW - amazing pictures and tetemant to just how many different dive options there is do be done.
Did you use Autofocus or Manual for these?

#5 loftus

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 02:26 AM

Beautiful Laz; looks like another trip or two to WPB / JASA is on the agenda.
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#6 james

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 05:09 AM

Great work Laz! I love that juvi flounder too - just incredible.

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#7 laz217

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:00 AM

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I am really psyched about doing many more such dives. I think this type of diving (and the images produced) in Palm Beach will add to the area's attraction. Plus, I'll finally be able to pull you Shear Waters guys away from Phil Foster long enough to get you to see the rest of Palm Beach! (Yeah, right!! LOL)

I've already seen some of the images from one other photographer who was on the trip and his encounters were quite different. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the imagery from the rest of the photographers and videographers who were on the maiden black water trip. I will post them on JASA's web site as soon as I have some more material.

To answer your questions...

Steve: We were in 500 feet of water -- hovering between 5ft - 40ft. Sleep... What's that?

Aqua_soul: I was shooting a 50mm in manual. I set the focus to the * button and based on the creature I was going to photograph, I would preset my focus on my hand at the proper distance and move the camera back and forth until the subject was in focus. It wasn't as difficult as I expected. I probably wouldn't try this type of diving with a 100mm, though. I think that would narrow your frame too much and make it a lot harder to get any shots.

Loftus: Perfect! I have gone ahead and signed you up for our next trip. :P Best of all, we are running a photo contest on the trips: the best photo of the night wins a free trip on Deep O. I think a macro wide angle shot of a juvenile peacock flounder in the foreground with one of your beautiful (human) models in similar peacock-like attire in the background would certainly win!
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#8 loftus

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:24 AM

Loftus: Perfect! I have gone ahead and signed you up for our next trip. :P Best of all, we are running a photo contest on the trips: the best photo of the night wins a free trip on Deep O. I think a macro wide angle shot of a juvenile peacock flounder in the foreground with one of your beautiful (human) models in similar peacock-like attire in the background would certainly win!

Absolutely sign me up; and don't give me any crazy ideas?
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#9 Canuck

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:25 AM

Beautiful shots Laz! You must have been stoked when you saw the pipefish. You probably weren't expecting it. The flounder shot is awesome. Were the divers tethered to the boat, or were you all free swimming? Looking forward to more shots. Makes we want to go back to Kona.

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#10 laz217

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 08:26 AM

Beautiful shots Laz! You must have been stoked when you saw the pipefish. You probably weren't expecting it. The flounder shot is awesome. Were the divers tethered to the boat, or were you all free swimming? Looking forward to more shots. Makes we want to go back to Kona.


We have seen pelagic seahorses in the Bahamas while doing the night dolphin swims, but I was surprised to see the pipefish out here. We don't commonly see pipefish out on the reefs.

The divers were not tethered to the boat. What we did was use a lit float ball with a forty foot line on it. We attached cyalume sticks every 5 feet to give divers a visual reference to their depth. At the bottom of the line we attached one of Jimmy's high power Green Force lights (with LOTS of tie-wraps) pointing downward in hopes of attracting some critters towards the line. The boat kept its distance from the divers and could easily follow the float and the divers. Staying with the float ball was easily accomplished since it was not affected by the wind and was drifting at the same speed as the divers.
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#11 laz217

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 08:31 AM

Absolutely sign me up; and don't give me any crazy ideas?


I just showed Jimmy the photos from the dive (he was captaining and hadn't seen them yet) and he jumped out of his chair and said we're doing it again this Friday on Shear Water. I have a feeling he's going to be in the water this time, though. :P

See you, and your crazy ideas, at the dock on Friday!!! :)
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#12 mojodiver

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 09:14 AM

Nice shots!!!

#13 Deep6

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:00 AM

Absolutely sign me up; and don't give me any crazy ideas?

Outstanding! I haven't been diving in Florida in decades. Blue Heron Bridge, manatees, Rainbow River, and now black water!. Time to go back. Lazlo, thanks for the post.
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#14 loftus

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:06 AM

I just showed Jimmy the photos from the dive (he was captaining and hadn't seen them yet) and he jumped out of his chair and said we're doing it again this Friday on Shear Water. I have a feeling he's going to be in the water this time, though. :P

See you, and your crazy ideas, at the dock on Friday!!! :)


Shoot! How about Saturday, I can do it then and I'll be in WPB anyway during the day. Shooting crazy pool stuff on Friday.

Edited by loftus, 12 October 2009 - 10:07 AM.

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#15 MIKE POWELL

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:17 AM

Killer shots Laz ! Keep us informed if this becomes a regular scheduled event. I've been meaning to plan a trip to WP and this just may be the ticket.

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#16 Nakedwithoutcamera

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 11:07 AM

Very cool Laz. And thanks for sending the video link of my dives with you back in Sept. with the baitballs & Goliaths. It was a pleasant surprise.
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#17 yahsemtough

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:17 PM

Laz the flounder is superb!

Awesome shots. Next trip down sign me up.

As long as we can still get Jimmy to the cafe for his Eggs Benny in the morning and me a Starbucks bold coffee. LOL

Well done my friend well done.

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#18 DiveMasterMark

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 06:30 AM

Great images, Laz! Truly inspiring. Looks like a trip south is even more necessary for me...
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