Story Behind the Shot – Peacock Mantis Shrimp

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp

Peacock Mantis Shrimp Cover Photo

This is another cover photo from way back, it appeared on the cover of Scuba Diver Australasia in 2007.  This photo was taken at the site “Basura” in Anilao, Luzon Island in the Philippines, a stereotypical “muck” site that features a rocky slope dotted with larger coral heads located right in front of a fishing village. Hiding underneath one of these coral heads was a fairly large peacock mantis shrimp which proved to be one of the more feisty individuals that I have come across, as it showed no fear of my camera (or me) whatsoever!  It was a large specimen which was very protective of his (or her?!) space and came right out to challenge my camera as I tried to take photos. The key to this image was the fact that I had a +4 diopter on my 105mm at the time which allowed me to get much closer the shrimp than I would be able to with just the 105mm lens.

Mike Veitch

Photo of the Day – School of Batfish

It’s been awhile, we have been exceedingly busy here in Bali over the past month and somewhat lax when it comes to our social media! Therefore, as a special gift to you all, we present another Photo of the Day!  Hope you enjoy this photo from Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat Batfish

Blue Ribbon Eel

Blue Ribbon eel

Sometimes the best subjects in Lembeh are ones that we often just swim right on past.  When people come to Lembeh they are usually in search of some of the more hard to find critters on the reef: exotic species such as hairy frogfish, flambouyant cuttlefish, and blue ring octopus are typically the critters that everyone wants to find.  More common subjects such as lionfish and the blue ribbon eel, are often “poo-pooed” by those in the know and many photographers will often swim past them.  However, it’s sometimes these subjects can make photographers work a little harder and experiment more than usual in order to take a photo that is slightly different from the norm.  In this photo, I have shot the blue ribbon eel with a wide open f-stop in order to give it a limited depth of field and therefore stand out from the blurred out background as opposed to shooting it with the black background that is so popular with macro photos.  Next time you are out on a dive, don’t just swim past the subjects you see all the time, stop and open yourself up to some new ideas and try something different, you may just be glad you did!

Fish Butts!

One of the things we hear the most when talking to underwater photographers is “I have a whole hard drive full of fish butts!”  I believe everyone knows the feeling of sneaking up on an underwater subject to get just that much closer when “boom” the subject you have just spent endless time stalking suddenly turns and speeds off just as you pull the trigger!  The resulting photo is what is lovingly called a “fish butt” shot and I know I have a hard drive full of them myself!  In fact, I have often thought about publishing a book called “Butts of the Pacific” but then I figured it may get banned for censorship reasons so unfortunately I have yet to do so!  However, not all “butt shots” are created equal, in fact, I think this small hawksbill turtle has a lovely butt, he sure did spend a lot of time with his beak in a hole eating sponges and showing me nothing but butt until I ran out of air, therefore, before heading up I had to snap off at least one photo of this turtle and I believe the result wasn’t too bad, for a butt shot!

This was taken at Whale Rock in the incredible Misool area of Raja Ampat where we will be heading again in 2017!

 

Turtle Butt

Mike Veitch

Catfish Parade

When diving in Bali or Lembeh or a myriad of other sites with sandy bottoms, do you ever see a cloud of dust rising up in the distance?  When you get close the disturbance it often turns out to be a big school of striped catfish churning up the sand in search of food.  These social fish with their distinctive barbed mouth are a common resident in the Indo Pacific area and always make an interesting photo subject in both macro or wide angle formats.  This shot was taken in Bali at Seraya Secrets with a Nikon D7000 and Aquatica housing, 105mm, f22, 1/250 and Sea and Sea strobes

 

Catffish

Shrimp Cleaning a Moray Eel

One of the more interesting behaviours that divers can encounter underwater is the always entertaining relationship between a cleaner shrimp and the creature that is being cleaned.  It might look like the shrimp is an easy meal for a moray eel as it prances along the morays head but in fact the moray more than tolerates the shrimps presence as it picks parasites from its skin and gums.  I always enjoy watching the “fearsome” moray flinch when the shrimp grabs a particularly sensitive piece of skin from the eel.  The observant diver can witness all kinds of cleaning behaviour on the reef at all times of day.  Shrimp are one of the more active cleaners but many species of small fish such as wrasse and butterfly fish are also commonly found cleaning other denizens of the reef.  Although it is common to see most fish visit a cleaning station from time to time, perhaps the most common visitors to these “clinics” seem to be moray eels.  In this photo, a yellow margined moray eel is being cleaned by a scarlet lady cleaner shrimp beneath a small coral head at the Seraya Secrets dive site in NE Bali, Indonesia.  Interested in seeing more of this activity?  We frequently run trips to NE Bali where the diving and photography are easy and very rewarding!  Have a look at our Bali Safari page for more details.

cleaning shrimp

Komodo National Park

Mike is off to Komodo tomorrow for 10 days of what should be incredible diving and topside adventure!  Mike hasn’t been there for a while and it’s always exciting to head back to one of Indonesia’s most incredible locations.  Can’t wait to climb a few hills and jump into some incredible coral reefs and action packed dives!

Komodo Lookout

Looking down at a Phinisi style liveaboard boat at anchor in Matu Monco Bay in NW Komodo Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean

Photo of the Day – Batfish in Menjangan

Menjangan Island is an often overlooked destination in Bali as many folks love heading out to the famous Liberty Wreck or looking for mantas and molas in Nusa Penida.  However, the Menjangan area is one of our favourite destinations in Bali due to the beautiful coral gardens and plentiful schooling fish.

Here is a shot of 3 batfish cruising the coral garden of Menjangan.

Three spadefish in formation on coral reef, Platax orbicularis, Acropora sp., Menjangan Island National Park, Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean

Three spadefish in formation on coral reef, Platax orbicularis, Acropora sp., Menjangan Island National Park, Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean

Photo of the Day – Jellyfish and Mangroves

Everyone seems to know about the Jellyfish Lake (actually lakes as there are quite a few) in the Republic of Palau, however, Indonesia is also home to numerous jellyfish lakes from Borneo to Papua and several places in between.  I have been lucky to have had the chance to visit several of them over the years and one that is very accessible as well as productive is the jellyfish lake in Kakaban island off the east coast of Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo.  Physically this lake is much larger than the other lakes I have visited including Misool and Palau but the jellyfish “mass” is not as thick as in Palau.  However, the variety of life in the Kakaban lake seems greater and the photo opportunities are endless, I would go back in a heartbeat!  Here is a shot near the edge of the lake with a fallen tree in the foreground and the mangroves in the background

Jellyfish at Kakaban Island

Photo of the Day – Schooling Barracuda

Schooling Barracuda

Indonesia suffers from a bit of a reputation of not having many large schools of fish.  However, that’s simply not true.  There are many different massive schools of barracuda throughout the country, from Kalimantan to Papua!  This photo is from one of several big schools that I know of in the Halmahera region, an area that is not visited by many diver and is highly under rated.

Shot with a Nikon D90 in Aquatica Housing, 10-17mm lens, f8, 1/60, Sea and Sea Strobes