Wow, what an amazing resource you have put together on your site. The images are fantastic. I really like the way you captured specific behaviour. But it's not just images but explanation and education. This should be the go-to starting point for anyone thinking of going to Tonga. Very well done sir!
By the way, although I have been to Tonga many times for work, including Vava'u, I was never able to time a trip to go diving. But I was extremely fortunate to swim with humpbacks in Niue which is not so far away. So I second your endorsement of such encounters being a seminal experience. Thanks for bringing back those memories.
Sounds like you had a typical Philippines resort experience - great diving, great service above and below the water, average food, and horrible traffic! When we went to Malapascua last year it was much the same, though "only" a 3 hour drive from the Cebu airport (and a 90 minute wait for the boat which didn't turn up). You don't mention any pelagic encounters - no sharks? Anyway, good to know about this place, thanks for the report.
The Olympus 12-50 is definitely a better lens all round (I've had both). It's not perfect but if you want a single lens setup it is the best there is at being a jack of all trades. At 12mm behind a flat port it is not really a true wide angle, though does capture decent scenic shots and the corners are acceptable. You can get true macro with the the Nauticam port and gear (it is admittedly pretty expensive) or you can use a diopter at 50mm. It is possible to switch between 12/50 using housing buttons, but you cannot access macro at 43mm without the right port and gear.
This experiment started with a desire to salvage a photo where the subject was well captured but the background was horrible and distracting. I started to wonder about using the technique in a slightly more creative way to make a subject pop out more dramatically. Most of these photos had in common a background very close in colour and texture to the the animal itself.
My non-diving friends seem to like these, but divers and photographers mostly don't. True, they are obviously artificial and are the sort of thing that you might find on a postcard in a seaside gift shop, but there is no attempt here to hide the technique. On the other hand, we know what the environment should look like and it is disorienting to see monochrome coral, not to mention that eliminating colour selectively takes away from the wonderful demonstration of how some animals fit into their habitat so well.
I wonder if anyone else thinks this could be an interesting effect if applied selectively from time to time? Let me have your thoughts, and don't hold back!
This was the first time I have come across each of these scenes. The moray was one of a group of four eels at a cleaning station populated by three different species of shrimp. They were competing for attention in a crowded little hole. It was a bustling scene! The mantis is the first one I've found bearing eggs.
Neither shot is brilliant and I would welcome suggestions. For now I am just really pleased to have found them:
Also keep in mind that you don't want to use the CMC for every subject. For example, that last shot of the nudi, you probably didn't need the CMC and could have shot it with the lens zoomed in, whereas using the CMC caused you to have to zoom out but then you get the vignette. With your camera, you probably only need the CMC for really small critters or really tight details on larger critters.
When I shoot super macro, I almost always have the strobes pulled in very close to the port, a little (like 10 cm) behind the glass, and aimed straight ahead, or even a little outward from straight. If you were looking straight down on my rig from above, the strobes would be pointing like the outer legs of the letter "W".
i use this lens without manual focus and am quite happy doing so. I usually lock focus using AF and then move the camera to recompose anyway. Though I have definitely come across situations in which MF would have been useful, especially in very tight quarters, but those have been rare for me.
I signed the petition, because I agree with the importance of the topic, and wish you luck.
I note that the competition page has removed your 2nd place shot, though not your name. Seems petty
By the way, it also seems unlikely to be coincidence that the winning macro shot and one of the runners up in the amateur category were both taken by people from the same country of what seems to be the same subjects with the same technique. I don't wish to take anything away from the many good photos that were posted there (and there are some very good ones) but the competition doesn't look like one I'd engage with or pay attention to in the future.