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newmanl

A Beginner in Bonaire

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Hi Folks,

 

I’ve just returned home from a three-week underwater photography trip to Bonaire – cleverly disguised as our annual vacation. Actually, my wife was a willing accomplice on the trip and I very much appreciated her support and understanding in my attempt to develop my underwater photography skills. We chose Bonaire for a number of reasons; very little rainfall was near the top of the list as we get quite enough of that here, but mainly because it offered a great opportunity to get as much time in the water with the camera as possible – at least as much as we were willing. In the three weeks I logged 52 dives for a little over 48 hours of bottom time. I’d like to offer a brief introduction in terms of where we stayed and what quickly became our usual routine, the gear I used and my very humble experience up to the time of this trip, then share some of my thoughts on the process (of making underwater images), and of course, a few of the images I made.

 

We stayed at the Carib Inn – a small ten room facility perfectly suited for those that would rather be left alone to do their thing. They do however, offer boat diving and guiding services for those so interested. We rented a small pick-up truck from Telerin Rentals and did “our thing” which usually consisted of a drive-away morning dive, either another drive-away or a house reef dive in the afternoon and a night dive.

 

My underwater photo gear consisted of a Canon 30D in an Ikelite housing with ports for a Sigma 15/2.8 fisheye, a 28/1.8 and a 100/2.8 macro. I was happy with all of the lenses, with the exception that the 100mm macro seemed a bit long for larger subjects. I also had an Ikelite DS-160 strobe.

 

My only previous underwater photography experience was on two earlier trips to Hawaii. On the first one I did not yet have a strobe and on the second the dives were mostly guided. In preparation for the relatively extended trip to Bonaire, I had re-read Martin Edge’s book (The Underwater Photographer, Digital and Traditional Techniques) and numerous articles by a number of other underwater photographers whose work I admire. I also tried to look at as many underwater images taken in the waters around Bonaire as possible to both get an idea of what was possible and to maybe... get some ideas on shooting something original (a proverbial long-shot for sure).

 

In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts about underwater photography:

 

Whoever coined the phrase that photography is a subtractive process clearly never did it underwater on a tropical coral reef.

 

Getting a sharp image obviously involves more than focusing on a subject and releasing the shutter – at least with my gear.

 

Not even thirty years spent honing buoyancy skills will stop you from crashing into something while trying to compose in the viewfinder, one really needs to learn to see the world like a chameleon; eventually I had one eye in the viewfinder and the other on my proximity to anything I was trying not to touch. Independent eye movement turned out to be a great dinner conversation starter.

 

The motion of the Ocean does not help with any of the above, especially focusing.

 

And finally, when you realize you have the wrong lens on for something you’re looking at, that’s the time to just take it in for the sake of your soul. You can’t change lenses underwater... yet.

 

I’ll finish this by saying that I have a great respect for those that make engaging, emotive, original images underwater – it is a combination of diving and photographic skills that truly inspire.

 

And now for some of my humble offerings...

 

IMG_7803.jpg

 

IMG_7931.jpg

 

IMG_8706.jpg

 

IMG_8867.jpg

 

IMG_9206.jpg

 

IMG_9331.jpg

 

IMG_9488.jpg

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I love the photos, 2,3, & 4 are beautiful! you have a great eye

 

Scott

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Outstanding partner! Really great for your first trip. Nice balanced exposure in the first two. Very hard to do consistantly I think. You did a super job with the 100mm too. The last one is just a tad too far away to really pop the school. One of my friends has "Get Closer" taped to his housing. I may try it next time. Congrats on what looks like a great trip! :lol:

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts too, I enjoyed it, I'm going to have to think about the independent eye movement a little more. :D

 

Cheers,

Steve

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the color on the jaw fish is perfect! Also I liked the composition of number two. Good Job!

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Excellent shots -- you should be proud.

 

Steve is right about the w/a stuff -- a lot of us need to move a bit closer.

 

Keep up the good work & keep sharing...

 

Mark

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These are lovely-Well done! The jawfish is maybe my favorite. In particular, I enjoyed your general thoughts and observations on UW photography. Good Lord that's all true!!!

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I like the first two image for some reason.. I quess it's the great negative space and backround wich got my attention more that the subjects. Impressive work for first time. Cant wayt to see what You'll post after Your second trip!!

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Great shots and report, thank you for sharing. The Jawfish is a great photo and I hope you will make it into a print for your memories.

 

Congrats

 

Karen

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Hi Folks,

 

Thanks very much for the kind words and encouragement. Steve, what a great idea about taping "Get Closer" on the housing... I think I'll do that!

 

Lee

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Your images are so much better than your own impression of them (in my experience, a common failing of the strange personalities that post on Wetpixel...)!

 

How many images did you shoot?

 

I brought almost 10,000 images back from Indonesia a couple of months ago, and there are links to about 100 in the "galleries" section: a 1% hit rate, even after 10 years of being serious about underwater photography.

 

Have you done better than 1%?

 

I thought your images attractive, well focussed, well-lit and absolutely representative of Bonaire: I think you must have natural talent!

 

Tim

 

:blink:

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Hi Tim,

 

Thanks for the very generous comments and feedback on the photos. I very much appreciate it, particularly coming from someone so qualified. I took a look at your images and they are as artfull as they are technically impressive - very much an inspiration for what is possible in underwater photography.

 

I shot approximately 2,800 images during the trip and currently have a folder of jpeg copies that number just over 200. However, I'd be the first to admit that the real keepers number far fewer.

 

Thanks again for the generous comments.

 

Lee

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