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Alex_Mustard

Back from Bali

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I got back from Bali yesterday and I wanted to get a few images up before zapping off to Cayman.

 

BA0372.jpg

 

I was running a marine life focussed group trip for British specialist travel agent Divequest. It wasn't a photographers trip, although most of the group were carrying cameras or videos. The aim of the trip was to experience the diversity of Bali diving and marine life - which is much better and more varied than many people think. And you have the chance to do this from hotels that are much nicer than the average SE Asian dive resort. Critters were high on the list of priorities - but we also spend the last couple of days looking for bigger stuff: Wobbegong Sharks, Mantas and Mola mola (the last of which proved frustratingly elusive on the day we searched).

 

Leading a group trip means that my own photography is well down the list of priorities and some subjects, such as pygmies, just aren't worth bothering with (when I have to make sure everyone else gets a good look and the photos they want before I can have a go). In general I find that 2 weeks leading a trip produces less quality images than 1 week diving for myself. But it is much less intense than personal shooting and much more fun!

 

We had a very successful "Road Trip" diving in 8 areas of Bali: Secret Bay, Menjangan Island, Seririt, Tulamben, Seraya Resort House Reef, Amed, Amuk Bay and Nusa Penida Island. And apart from the pesky Mola molas we saw some awesome stuff. As you can see in the gallery.

http://www.amustard.com/bali/

 

Alex

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Fantastic as always! Not bad at all for a trip where photography was "well down on the list of priorities".

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Welcome back Alex? a little warmer than your cliffs of dover a few weeks back i am sure!

 

Good looking froggies...what is that blue stuff all over them and the seagrass?

 

 

Sounds like you had a good time...running off to Cayman now? Lots of airmiles for you

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Photographically I try to differentiate my critter shots from other DSLR users by using long exposures are burning in blue backgrounds. I think that this is a good approach to overcome the repetitive feel of Indonesian black sand images again and again. This seahorse is just an example:

BA1615.jpg

 

Whenever possible I also try to choose a camera angle that isolates subjects against open water to get clean black, or my favoured blue backgrounds. Blue water is hard to come by in murky Indonesia but the sky is blue - which is what got such a nice blue on this shot of a shortfin lionfish:

BA1387.jpg

I was able to get underneath this fish because I spotted that they lived on top of the structure at Scuba Seraya which offered this unusual angle to the patient!

 

The other thing I tried with the critters were face portraits. I have felt that my critter shots in the past have not had enough variety being mainly whole animal shots - so I tried to get tigher, high impact, personality filled shots when I could.

BA1138.jpgBA1166.jpg

 

I hope that provides some insight into the gallery:

http://www.amustard.com/bali/

 

The other thing I was doing was shooting the production version of the Magic Filter for the first time. And I was very pleased with how it coped in the low viz Indonesian waters. The pix don't look low viz, but it was. I guess that is the Magic!

http://www.amustard.com/bali_magic/

 

Alex

 

p.s. There are a couple of images in the Gallery that I took last year (as I will also direct people to this gallery to promote the repeat trip next year).

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Shooting wise. I was using my Nikon D2X in a Subal housing - still without a GS viewfinder. Lighting was two Subtronic Alphas - one of which developed an intermittant fault towards the end of the trip (it would sometimes fire on full power when set at other power settings). For three dives I used Magic Filters both Magic 10.5N and Magic 16N. The lenses I used were:

Nikon 10.5mm

Nikon 16mm

Sigma 28-70mm

Nikon 60mm Macro

Nikon 105mm Macro

Sigma 150mm Macro (only on one dive - found it was too long for low Viz Indonesia - hope to make better friends with it in clear Cayman).

 

Alex

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A little warmer than your cliffs of dover a few weeks back i am sure!

Good looking froggies...what is that blue stuff all over them and the seagrass?

 

 

Bali can be freezing, Mike. Particularly at Nusa Penida (19-26ËšC) and Secret Bay (23-24ËšC), where those froggies at the top are from. Everywere else it is 27-28ËšC. Cayman will be 30ËšC. :P

 

The froggies are covered in dust and the green stuff is large leaves of macro algae (seaweed). The blue is from the long exposure I was using to give the image more depth. That picture was taken at F10 @ 1/15th with Sigma 28-70mm @ 28mm. Is that the blue you meant? I guess that there is a little bit of ghosting on the image?

 

Alex

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A real highlight for me was getting to dive for an afternoon and evening at Seririt with Graham and Yan from Diving 4 Images - that James and Sarah had recently dived with (I got to make up loads of stories about them - which hopefully will spread through the UW photo world!). It is the first time that I have had a choice of two mimic octopuses to shoot at the same time! It is a great site for Mimics and other octopus. Plus Ghost Pipefish, Stargazers, Ambon Scorpionfish, rare Bluefin Lionfish and those crazy mini-mushroom corals across the seabed.

 

I like this image of a Mimic, which I think shows it nicely in its environment. And the second shot of the one of the Mimics up to its tricks. We even had one free swimming - but one of my group was videoing it at the time and I couldn't take a shot, even though it swan straight towards me, without ruining his sequence! Damn videographers.

 

BA0651.jpgBA0677.jpg

 

The other octopus are also good on this site, such as the small ones that hide in shells and bottles etc. And the undescribed "white V" long armed octopus that does many of the same tricks as the mimic.

 

BA0736.jpgBA0619.jpg

 

Alex

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Thats a really outstanding set of images you have there Alex. Really liking that Horse and other Froggie as well. Nicely done on the Lion too!

 

I think the blue bits i meant on the first image is the dust you are talking about not ghosting or slow shutter. I wasn't sure if they had dust on them as well or if they had been able to mimic what was on the surrounding seaweed.

 

I would say great stuff again but that videographer comment has put you in the dog house :P

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beautiful shots Alex,

And the Sunfish in the end is amazing!

 

Unfortunately that was from last year. We just couldn't find any on the day we looked. But they are around - as everyone was keen to remind us!

 

Alex

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Beautiful work! Some excellent examples of the eye contact you once referred to in one of my posts. :P

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers.

Michael.

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Hi Alex,

 

Welcome back friend. I've been waiting patiently for weeks to see these images. My new old friends from Bali! It's great to see that your group got to experience so much underwater diversity.

 

Of course, your take on many of the same subjects that Sarah and I saw was very refreshing. I especially like your freeswimming and behavior lionfish photos. Not to mention the Siririt stuff. Great!

 

I'm sure your group had a fabulous trip - molas or not.

 

Cheers

James

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Alex....

 

The blue background you got with the Lionfish at Scuba Seraya was that due to the slower shutterspeed of 15? Did you use the magic filter there. I will be there for a couple of days after diving the Alor-Flores area in October. I know the structure you are talking about. Thanks

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Great stuff, Alex! It is weird to recognize some of the same critters from Secret Bay!

Cheers,

Marli

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The blue background you got with the Lionfish at Scuba Seraya was that due to the slower shutterspeed of 15?

Nothing special it was just the shooting angle that was almost vertical that produced such a great blue. I don't think that it was even a long exposure on this one!

 

It is weird to recognize some of the same critters from Secret Bay! 

I spent a good deal of time checking out other people's Bali galleries before going so it was equally strange to recognise actual individuals underwater from pictures I had seen before.

 

The octopus in the shell is my favorite.

One of mine too. Once I found it I decided to stick with it after the rest of the gang had moved on. I used a longer exposure to get more ambient light into this image to give it more depth. It wasn't perfectly posed (as Costas Petrinos's BBC Wildlife image was from a few years ago), but I am pleased with the image.

 

Thanks for the all the nice comments!

 

Alex

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Yep. Some familiar faces include:

 

ALL of the frogfish at Secret Bay

The catfish at Secret Bay

ALL the octos

The warty frogfish (yellow and gray) at Scuba Seraya

The HS at scuba seraya

The seahorses at seraya

A few of the nudis at seraya

 

It's awesome to see that they're all still there. Hopefully I can say the same in about a year.

 

Cheers

James

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I dont mean this to be contoversial, but whenever i see your work posted, it reminds me of the art of photograghy.So much of uw is what i would call snapshots, or id shots. yours is thought out and creative, really ahead of the pack.

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I dont mean this to be contoversial, but whenever i see your work posted, it reminds me of the art of photograghy.So much of uw is what i would call snapshots, or id shots. yours is thought out and creative, really ahead of the pack.

 

I don't think that's controversial at all.

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I dont mean this to be contoversial, but whenever i see your work posted, it reminds me of the art of photograghy.So much of uw is what i would call snapshots, or id shots. yours is thought out and creative, really ahead of the pack.

You know what I love about diving with and taking photos with Alex and seeing his results is ... the way he changes it up over the years. Being a Marine Biologist you would expect the standard old id shots .. however Alex's interests goes way beyond into the behaviour of the animals too and the amount I have learnt from him is amazin even though i though I knew it all. Knowing critters is one thing .. but knowing what when how and why they do things is what gets these shots and thats what makes diving with him a real pleasure and also makes my own photography interesting always trying to keep up and out do him ... if you ever get a chance to dive with Alex or go on one of his courses it is a must do .. it reinvigorates your uw photography.

 

and oh aren't I lucky he is coming down tomorrow ... get some diving .. will we ... hell yes.

 

btw Alex thats not sucking up ... that me mentoring you ... my little protoge.

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Hi Alex, it's taken me all morning to get through your pics. (too many phone calls :P ). It's great that you can take so many fine pics while under those constraints.

 

My quick comments:

I liked your Stargazer, it's so hard to get something different with those critters, the 'V' shape at the back really adds to the composition. That blennie on the Clam shot is great. Maybe the 150mm would have brought things in tighter but I'd never argue composition with you (Too much anyway ;) ). The first Pygmy shot is a knockout. DOF is perfect and I love the personality. And of course the Lionfish, are they courting in that one shot? Love the underbelly shot with the blue background.

 

re: The videographer. I've always assumed they'd like to get an action shot of me taking a picture.....

Rand

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And of course the Lionfish, are they courting in that one shot?

 

It almost looks like Alex was back at it with a mirror :P

 

~Matt Segal

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Thanks Giles! Now I am in Cayman I can pay you in person.

 

The lionfish were fighting - presumably over turf or ladies or something. They were at it for a couple of afternoons. I found it a very difficult scene to capture in a single shot. If I tried to include the whole of both fish then their facial expressions get lost - but when I focused in on the faces then you didn't get the whole story. I think that my favourite shot was a portrait of a single fish in full display posture. Unfortunately you can't figure out what it is doing from that single frame.

 

I couldn't figure out a solution - but I took a number of shots and think I might write an article about them as I think these shots would go well with my courting and mating lions from the Red Sea:

http://www.amustard.com/aod/c4/images/fish_06a.jpg

http://www.amustard.com/aod/c4/images/fish_06b.jpg

 

Alex

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That blennie on the Clam shot is great. Maybe the 150mm would have brought things in tighter

 

Actually that was from my only dive with the 150mm! I really didn't get on with that lens. It is far too long for those conditions - very hard to eliminate backscatter with such long working distances. I am hoping it will be more effective now I am in the clear waters of Cayman. I might try it on my first dive today. In low viz it has a role for super macro, with a dioptre, but it is very restrictive as the working distances required to shoot anything larger than a matchbox just create backscatter.

 

Alex

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