Posts posted by Dave H
I need some assistance in choosing a camera to take ID shots of small critters such as nudibranchs, seahorses and cowries.
Over the next 4 months I’m diving every day to finish off my seahorse research and whilst I’m doing my surveys and tagging underwater it’s impossible to lug my D300 setup around. So I’m after a point and shoot setup that I can stick in my BC pocket and pull out to use if I come across a critter I haven’t seen before or to take photo’s of the tagged seahorses.
I am after a camera with good macro that allows manual control (shutter speed and aperture). I don’t want an external flash so the internal flash would need to be adequate. Also, the camera would need to be rated to at least 20-30m as on some occasions I need to survey for seahorses in deeper water.
The key here is that it needs to fit in a BC pocket… any suggestions would be appreciated!
Did you use the 105 lens to shoot the Pygmy Seahorse? Did you use any diopters or teleconverters?
The pygmy in the image above was shot with the 60mm with a +2 filter. Generally I shoot pygmies with the 105mm and possible a +1 or +2 however the 60mm was what I happened to have on that dive! And the pymy above was amonster, one of the biggest I've seen. Actually, come to think of it, all the pygmies in Bali (Denise and Barginabti) were generally bigger than one's I'd seen in PNG, Sulawesi or the Solomon's. Must be the local food!
Thanks for the feedback on the sots, I have to say Bali is one of the nicest places I have been for an all round holiday and I highly recommend it as a destination for couples as there is much more to do than just diving, which is a change for me!
I have just returned from a 2 weeks holiday in Bali where I managed a weeks diving at Tulamben and a couple of days on Lembongan Island searching for Mola mola. Diving at Tulamben was sensational, reminded me a lot of Lembeh except that there was massive wreck to explore in the US Liberty. The Liberty is an outstanding dive site however if I can offer anya dvice it's to dive first thing in the morning or around 4 in the afternoon otherwise you will see about a million day trippers from Kuta diving the wreck. Great macro and critter diving in the Tulamben region whilst the wreck provided some good wide angle opportunities.
Diving at Lembongan was much different, crazy insane currents and more dive boats on 1 site (Crystal Bay) than I have seen anywhere else in the world! Managed to see some Mola’s however had to say photography was challenging in a raging current or when there were 15 divers around a single Mola.
If anyone is interested in the adventures of Scuba Snoopy, he wrote an article on his Mola mola experience here:
All images were taken with a D300 in an Ikelite housing using DS125 strobes. Lens used were Nikon 105mm and 60mm, Tokina 10-17mm and Sigma 17-70mm. Some of my favourites include:
Barra with Diver
Harlequin Shrimp (Ever since I first saw this critter I've always wanted a shot with a black background and finally had them in the right spot at Seraya)
Tomato cod at cleaning station
Coral cod on Liberty wreck
Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)
Mola mola at Blue Corner (very difiicult to photograph when you're flying past in a current!)
Giant Anglerfish on Lembongan Island
More images can be seen here:
It is a Jansen's Wrasse Thalassoma jansenii
But it is true that with the 105VR I donâ€™t get sharp pictures as I used to get with the D200 and the 60mm Marco. wonder if anyone else had the same impression? With the D300 / 105VR? UW?
I used the D300 with the 105mm VR in Sulawesi two weeks ago and I have to say that I love the combination, I was really happy with the results from the 105mm considering it was the first time I used the lens. Focusing was super quick and the image quality was sharp in my opinion.
Some shots taken with the 105mm can be seen here:
and here are two examples:
If it was at night or dusk, I wonder if they'e learned that small fish are attracted by the lights
They were actually photographed in the middle of the day. I find with Rhinopias that if you spend some time with them they actually become quite curious and if there are two animals near each other they will often join one another - its happened to me on two occasions at Loloata in PNG.
how did you like the D300 compared to the D80, did you find a difference is useability or image quality?
I really like the D300, the huge LCD screen is fantastic for viewing images underwater however I haven't seen a noticeable difference in image quality between the D80 and D300. Put it this way, I don't think anyone could pick which images were taken with the D80 or D300 in the Sulawesi gallery (except for the fact that it says under each image what the camera was!)
I'm not sure if you have seen the latest Underwater Photo Mag (Issue 41) but if not you will find a short article that I put together on the D300 and Ikelite housing. See: www.uwpmag.com
but other people at our resort saw these two together.. actually what happened, is someone was taking a photo of the purple one, the red one was farther away, and the red one hopped over and plopped down right next to the purple one to get in the photo! so how funny is that?
Thats the exact same thing that happened to me!!! We found the red rhinopias (Rhinopias frondosa) sitting in the open in 12 metres of water. I took several pics and then conitnued on the dive. 40 minutes later I returned to the same spot and I found the frondosa heading towards a large staghorn coral and sitting under that was the purple rhinopias eschmeyeri!
I spent about 10 mins waiting for the puple eschmeyeri to move into a good position and then all of a sudden the frondosa swam past my camera and plonked itself right next to the other. I was cheering!!!
So by pure utter luck I managed to get both together even though they were a good 10 metres apart at the start of the dive!
I've also seen Rhinopias display similar behave at Loloata in PNG - they are quite a curious fish species. Probably my favourite fish (behind seahorses but they don't count as fish )
What route did you take to Manando? I notice their website recommends via Singapore as the most reliable way there.
We fly with Singapore Airlines. It is a 8 hour flight from Sydney to Singapore, a night stop over in Singapore at the Furama Hotel and then a 3 hour flight across to Manado the next morning on Silk Air. It takes just over 24 hours to get there which is pretty good. The other benefit with flying Singapore Airlines is that they are pretty good on luggage and you may be able to organise 30kg baggage allowance.
Anywat, very nice photos. What did you think of the actual resort? I stayed at the hotel before Cocotinos was built and that was very pleasant.
In April 2007 we stayed at Kima Bajo resort at Wori Bay where Odyssea Divers were based. Kima Bajo was really nice but hideously expensive and also had a horrible hill to walk up. Whilst we were there we saw Cocotinos being built and planned a trip back as soon as it was completed.
That's how we ended up at Cocotinos in March 2008 and we spent 1 week diving everyday. Cocotinos is easily the best scuba diving resort that I have stayed at. It was designed by divers for scuba divers so the attention to detail is fantastic. The large tables in each room are great for the camera equipment and there are power points throughout the room which make it possible to charge everything! All the rooms are aircon with huge bathrooms and each room is less than a 1 minute stroll from the dive boats and diving area.
The rates are very reasonable and they have some good specials going; we had a 6 day package which saved us about $300 off the normal nightly room rates. The food was excellent and there is a bar in the dining area which offers all sorts of cocktails (The Cocotinos Cocktail is a must but save it for the last night!!!) and the beer/soft drinks were reasonably priced.
The dive boats generally head out to Bunaken Island however we did several dives around the Odyssea Reefs (Aba Point is one of my favourite sites) and we also did a day trip up to Bangka Island and Batu Mindi.
There were 9 of us in total and everyone only had positive things to say about Cocotinos...it was so good in fact that I'm looking at going back in June!
I should have some pics of the resort up on my website in the next couple of days. If you have any specific questions feel free to email me.
Great images Dave. Sounds like a nice trip, and from your galleries, very productive too. Two rigs on a dive, that must be nirvana. Bit of wide here, a bit of macro there.
BTW Did you find the little guy you were looking for?
Nope I was really keen to photograph the newly described pygmy pipehorse species however after many dives the little bugger still managed to elude me. Which means I just have to go back there again!
Having two camera's on a dive is managable... except when you have one rig set up for 10mm wide angle as its just too hard to carry both! Fortunately I had some good dive buddies who played Sherpa's and carried the spare D80 for me! Which meant that by the time I got it off them the memory card was full and the strobe was flat!!
I have a new buddy. Apparently I don't make a very good dive buddy I'm too busy taking photo's so I recently found myself a new dive buddy who accompained me to North Sulawesi over the past 2 weeks.
I really like my new buddy. He models really well, doesn't bother me underwater, doesn't cause back scatter and most importantly can't give any hand signals or say anything!
Here's a couple of shots of Scuba Snoopy, my new dive buddy!
Scuba Snoopy meets the Painted Frogfish
Snoopy meets the Harlequin Shrimp at Police Pier in Lembeh Strait
Snoopy plays with a Coconut Octopus
Some of my other favourite pics from Lembeh can be seen here:
Here are some samples:
Two species of Rhinopias (Rhinopias Frondosa and Rhinopias eschmeyeri)
Has anyone done much diving with the D300 regardless of housing? Anyone tried the "Live View"? I have played with it on land. Seems like it could have some use underwater. Take the shot and immediately depress the shutter again to put it back in LV? Maybe for macro in manual focus mode? I have noticed that in Live View sometimes the shutter fires right away and sometimes it has a slight delay and I can't figure out why.
I just spent 2 weeks playing with the D300 in a Ikelite housing in North Sulawesi. Some of the images from the trip can be seen here:
One of the reasons why I bought the D300 was for the new 'live view' functionality. However, I have been very disappointed with the live view feature and after trying it out a couple of times in Sulawesi on small macro critters such as pygmy seahorses and featherstar shrimps I ended up giving up. There is to much delay between the mirror dropping up and down and I was often missing the shot as the animal will have moved during the live view focusing process. The other issue is that I found it more difficult to steady the camera without holding the viewfinder/housing against my face.
So in all I've given up on live view for now and will continue to use the standard viewfinder as its much easier and more accurate for framing.
I've just returned from a two week dive trip to North Sulawesi. We stayed at the new Cocotinos Dive Resort located at Wori Bay adjacent to Bunaken National Marine Park for 6 days. This resort has been open for 6 months and is the perfect location for a photographer as it was specifically designed with photographers in mind. There are powerpoints throughout each room, a huge table in each room for the camera equipment, a dedicated camera room with even a air gun to remove water and the dining area has powerpoints on every pillar so us nerdy photographers can drink beer, eat dinner and play on the laptop without moving!
I have put together a gallery with my favourite images from the trip. See:
The majority of pics were taken with the D300 however some shots are from the D80 as I was able to 'borrow' (read Steal) the D80 setup off my partner when ever we found a cool critter! Lenses that I used for the trip were the Nikon 60mm and 105mm, Sigma 17-70mm and Tokina 10-17mm.
Here are a couple of my personal favourite images from diving with Cocotinos:
Pinnacle at Mike's Point @ Bunaken island
Boxer Crab @ Siladen Island
Commensal Featherstar Shrimp
Softcoral Crab with eggs
Gorgonian Shrimps on black whip coral
For a full copy of the review see:
Neville Coleman 2008
WOW!!! Yesterday in the post I received a brand new copy of Neville Colemans "Nudibranchs Encyclopaedia Catalogue of Asia/Indo-Pacific Sea Slugs". This new book is a must have for nudibranch enthusiasts or for anyone that is interested in learning about marine biodiversity.
Neville Coleman is the publisher of many fine marine books, including the very popular 1001 nudibranchs that is probably the most popular nudibranch book ever produced. However his latest offering, the Nudibranchs Encyclopaedia is easily his best publication to date. There are several reasons why this book is so good:
Photos: There are over 3,000 images in this book and they are of excellent quality and of a large enough size to make it easy for Identifying nudibranchs. Unlike 1001 nudibranchs which crammed 15 images onto the page, this book only has 8 photos per page which makes it much easier to recognise the nudibranchs and look at all their identifying features. Photos have been provided by many outstanding photographers including Roger Steene, Takaka Uno, Nigel Marsh and even I managed to have quite a few of my nudie pics published, including my all time favourite nudie discovery which Neville kindly called "Harasti's Onchidoris"
Book Size: The book is roughly B5 in size which in my view is a great size for travelling as its not too big. The encyclopaedia also has a beautiful hard cover which I really like as they look better, sit well on the book shelf and last longer. The book is also 416 pages, which makes it just over 2cm thick!
Comprehensive: This book includes many photographs of nudibranchs that are newly seen or rarely recorded. Given that Neville started photographing nudibranchs back in the 60s when he travelled Australia documenting its marine life he has a great collection of nudibranch species many that havent been seen for many years. Each species photo is accompanied with family name, scientific name, common name, authors/dates, location data, size and natural history. There is enough information with each image to obtain an understanding of where you could find each species, what they can be found on and how big they grow.
There have been various contributors to the encyclopaedia however most importantly its development has been assisted by some of the most respected nudibranch taxonomists in the world including Bob Burn, Dr Richard Willan, Dr Bill Rudman and Dr Terry Gosliner. The input from the relevant experts ensure that the taxonomic identifications are accurate and up to date with the most recent species revisions.
Introduction: Neville has written a great introduction on the world of nudibranchs in easy to explain terms which is straightforward to understand for even the newest of slug enthusiasts. The introduction covers all the important stuff about nudibranch biology, where to find them, what to they eat, camouflage, mating and mimicry and there is enough information in the first section of the encyclopedia to help anyone write a school assignment!
This book now proudly sits on the top of my marine library alongside "Nudibranchs of the World by Debelius and Kuiter" which is another nudibranch guide that I highly recommend.
The cost of the book is $99 and it can be purchased from http://www.nevillecoleman.com.au
How would you say Nelsons Bay compares to Fish Rock and North Solitary (apart from the fact that N.B. is a shoredive, the others aren't)? I haven't dived down your way yet.
Its like comparing apples with oranges! Nelson bay has the best macro diving on the east coast (if not Australia) as it has a huge diversity of tropical and temperate critters. Fish Rock is where you go to see big stuff (sharks, rays and a big cave) and North Solitary is good for seeing tropical species and pretty fish!
They are so different from each other you cannot say one site is better than the other etc...
I hate to rain on the sydneysiders parade but if you drive 2.5 hours north you'll come to a little place called Nelson Bay where the diving is remarkably better than Sydney. More marine diversity, weirder critters, better habitats, easier entry/exits and from March to Dec much less people!
I've dived Sydney on many occasions and whilst it can be good its a lot more miss than hit when compared to nelson bay. Alot of the Sydney sites depend on wind and swell whilst you can dive at nelson bay any day on the high tide - the only limiting factor with nelson bay diving is that you can generally only dive it on a slack high tide as the currents are very strong.
There is a reason why Nelson Bay is voted as having the best shore diving in Australia!!!
This is a sample of what you can see here:
I'm from down south in Ballarat (Vic) and was wondering about the water around Sydney?
I would have thought that your area would have been more temperate than tropical?
Do you get southerly currents or ???
I noticed in your articles on your web pages that you list the Anglerfish as being tropical...
Just the ramblings of another confused Victorian...
Nelson Bay (in Port Stephens) is temperate however it also receives warm water from the East Australian Current (EAC for the Nemo fans) over the summer period. During the summer we get lots of different tropical nudibranchs, cowries and fish turning up and if they are fortunate they actually survive during the winter when the water temp drops. It also helps that Nelson Bay has the best sponge garden and soft coral habitat along the east coast of Australia!
The striped anglerfish (A. striatus) is considered to be a tropical species but fortunately it seems to do very well in Sydney Harbour and Port Stephens and can be found all year round. Over summer they are more comon as they come together for mating and about now we start seeing the baby anglers around the place.
DaveReally nice images, Dave. Glad you have got the D300 up and running underwater - excellent set of images.
For those who want to see more of Dave's images or are planning a trip to SE Asia they should check out Dave's new book:
Although the book is about Bootless Bay in PNG, many of the species are from the wide SE Asia region. Also it is soft cover - so is an ideal travel ID book.
Hi Alex, thanks for the book plug!!! I hope yours arrived in the post okay. I'm now down to my last 50 personnal copies so if anyone wants one they are going to have to be very quick and offer some good bribes!!!
Dave, this is NOT what I wanted to hear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poor little guys....., I had hoped they were smarter than that....
Dave that frogfish is a. striatus (striated or striped frogfish), isn't it? Looks like it to me and its world-wide. Or I guess it could be a. hispidus?? I can't quite see the lure clearly? Just wondering... Cool you saw it turn orange from yellow.
Dave can you at least feed me some good news about the "snoutless" seahorse and his lady friend? I need to believe.......... !
The frogfish (which should be commonly called an Anglerfish!!!) is indeed the striped anglerfish (a. striatus) as you mentioned. They are pretty common here at the moment, I found 5 on a dive the other day - 2 yellow, 1 black, 1 grey and 1 orange!!! This page shows their colour variations in Nelson Bay:
and this is a pic of the little angler with his lure fishing from 2 weeks ago, you can see his colouration is not quite as orange as in the photo above.
The good news is that Mr 'No Nose' is still doing really well, I found him on a night dive last night and he's attractive gold girlfriend is still hanging with him... it just proves you don't have to be good looking to pull the hot chicks! I've seen them together now for almost 2 months!
You know another thought I had is the seahorse mounted on the frogfish and the one on the substrate might actually be there on purpose? Maybe to feed on a few bits stirred up when the frogfish feeds?
I just kinda doubt they don't sense the frogfish there, especially the one perched on him -- but I don't know??? Still "Russian Roulette" a bit for sure!
He, he... in my 'spare' time I'm doing my PhD on seahorses, in particularly Hippocampus whitei (the seahorse in the pics) and one of the things I'm looking at is what predates on seahorses.
Pretty close to the top of that list is Anglerfish!! I often find the anglerfish hanging around the seahorses and on two occasions I've now seen them munch a seahorse! So they are not very friendly towards them thats for sure!
I think on this occasion both seahorses in the image were ignornant of the anglerfish as he didn't move the whole time I was watching and he was pretty well camouflaged against his orange sponge. Interestingly enough, only 6 weeks ago this anglerfish was yellow in colour and about half the size. I've been watching him gradually change his colour to match his sponge habitat and he's growing quickly... probably because there are lots of seahorses about!You do make me chuckle though... resisted the SLR for so long and now BAM! you are on your second one..
Not only am I on my 2nd one, I kept my D80 so I can take 2 camera's around with me on dives!!!
But I do still 'occasionally' miss my CP5000 for macro shots!!!
all shots are with the Nikon 60mm, its the only lens I have to use at the moment as I lent the 90mm to a friend and I'm waiting for the new Ikelite flat port system for the 105.
Fortunately I'll be in Sulawesi next month so I can put all my lens to the test!
I would recommend 3 lens as a good starting point for the D80. First purchase should be the Nikon 60mm as this is a great lens to practise with and will help you get used to using a dSLR underwater. Then I'd purchase the Sigma 17-70mm for its all round versatility and then for wide angle the Tokina 10-17mm is probably the best bet.
I use all these lens regularly with the D80 and love them.
An old article I wrote on the D80 might be of some use to you. See:
I've had my Ikelite housing for the D300 for about 2 weeks and I've had a couple of test dives with the Nikon 60mm. Unfortunately I haven't been able to play with any wider lens as we've had constant rain for the past month and vis and the seas are terrible.
Anyway, here are couple of shots from my backyard:
Suicidal seahorses... there are 2 in the pic if you look closely!
Mr 'No Nose' seahorse. Even without his nose he's still feeding okay and has a real hot gold female as a partner... he's doing alright!
Mating platypus cowries
The eyes have it!
Some more sample shots can be seen here:
The fabulous shot shows the host: the gorgonian, and below the shell are the egg capsules of Volva volva. This is most probably a "premiÃ¨re".It also proves that the species lives within diving depths. All by all the Volva volva has been photographed at least 4 times by now.
Interesting to here that Volva volva is considered to be rare. I've photographed it several times at Fly point in Port Stephens in depths from 6-10 metres. It is generally found feeding on the yellow gorgonian Euplexaura sp and I've also seen it feeding on Dendronephthya sp.
below is a pic of it in the soft corals.
Need a decent digital camera that fits in a BC pocket
in Photography Gear and Technique
Thanks Jeremy. I had a play with the Oly 1030 recently in Bali but then I was put off on several reports (see dpreview.com) where I read the camera flooded, particularly through the battery compartment. And then there was the only rated to 10m issue.
Any other camera suggestions out there?