I like the general idea, but I don't think this image quite works. The split is executed well. Composition is OK and the backlighting on the model is nice, though I might have tried to get a little closer and put a bit more space between the sun and the model. However the sun flare overpowers everything, the model is almost lost as a result, and the UW scene is dull and lifeless (but I guess in SWFL that's a good thing!). The lens reflection is indeed a distraction but very hard to avoid when looking straight into the sun.
Now if you could just go back and get a ND filter on the sun, a remote strobe on your model, and move the whole UW scene to a colorful reef, you'd be all set ;-)
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".