Story Behind the Shot – Banded Sea Snake

Banded Sea Snake on the Surface

Sea Snake Surfacing

One of my all time favourite photos is this photo of a black and white banded sea snake (krait) surfacing for breath.  The photo was taken at the island of Bunaken on one of the famous Likuan dive sites which feature a shallow reef bordered by a sharp vertical wall.  It was during the morning on a dive to this site where I encountered this beautiful sea snake while doing my safety stop in the shallows.  I patiently followed the snake for a while taking a photo or two of it while it stuck it’s head into a few holes in the corals, possibly looking for a meal.  The snake was not bothered by my presence and continued to swim along the reef in no particular hurry.  However, as any air breathing animal is want to do, it eventually had to swim toward the surface for a breath of air.  This is when I knew the best photo opportunity would take place, as the snake would have to swim up toward the flat calm surface.  Sure enough, off the snake went toward the surface and I quickly followed it while taking a few shots of it from below.  Immediately, I knew the photos would be winners as I could see the beautiful blue/green water pop up on my screen afterwards.  There are two elements of this photo that I believe really make the photo:  firstly, the green reflection of the reef surrounding the white clouds and blue coloured snell’s window and secondly, the ripples that the snake’s head makes on the water as it surfaced for air.

Nikon D90, 10.5 mm lens, f7.1, 1/200, ISO 200   Sea and Sea Strobes

Mike Veitch

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

Story Behind the Shot – Coconut Octopus

The Coconut Octopus

Coconut octopus Bali

For me, the ultimate photo when it comes to close focus wide angle photography is capturing an octopus behaving in the unique ways that octopus do. In Bali, there is a black sand dive site called Puri Jati which is well known for its octopus population including long arm white V, mimic, and the ever curious coconut octopus. This particular photo was taken of a coconut octopus that I found in a few metres of water which was living inside its namesake: a coconut! The best thing about this encounter was the fact this octopus was a player, each time I edged closer, the octopus would pick up its home and scuttle across the sand away from me before settling down once again. The key to this image was shooting it from far enough away to show some of the background as well as the main subject. I also used a slower shutter speed in order to utilize the natural light to “burn in” the background to show the environment where the octopus lives.

 

Nikon D7000, 60mm lens at f11, 1/80, ISO 160

 

Mike Veitch

Story Behind the Shot – The Trumpet Fish

Trumpet fish blue background

This photo appeared on the cover of Asian Diver magazine back in 2005.   As often happens with photos that get published, it was a last minute addition to a series of photos I presented to the Art Director who instantly knew this was the photo she wanted due to the myriad of colours that fill the frame. The main subject of the photograph is a juvenile trumpet fish that was hiding in a crinoid that was nestled within a sea fan on the dive site Yap Caverns in Yap, Micronesia. The idea behind this photo was to capture a bright blue background while shooting a small subject with a macro lens. The key element was finding a subject that allowed me to get below and shoot up, in this case the trumpet fish in a sea fan was a perfect opportunity.  Not many dive magazine at that time published macro photographs on the cover, this was my first “macro” cover, and I believe it was the blue background that really stood out to the Art Director.

Nikon D70, 105mm lens at f16, 1/60, iso 200 2 x Sea and Sea YS 120 Strobes

Mike Veitch

 

Story Behind the Shot – Wayag Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat Wayag Behind the Shot

 

Although most of our “Story Behind the Shot” images are typically underwater photos, I have chosen this image from Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia as it’s such an iconic photo from this area. The island group of Wayag is a located in the far NW quadrant of Raja Ampat and it’s famous for it’s beautiful vistas. Measuring only a few miles from east to west and less than a mile from north to south, this incredible little archipelago consists of hundreds of small karst islets which have been carved into mushroom shapes over the millennia. Although this photo looks incredible, it’s quite an easy shot to take (other than the journey to get all the way to Wayag!) There is a rocky path that leads up one of the hills inside the lagoon that offers a fantastic 360 degree view all around the archipelago and beyond. Although the common perception would be to take this photo with the late afternoon “magic hour” lighting behind the photographer, it doesn’t actually work too well because the low light coming from behind tends to blow out the sky on the horizon. Instead, the best time to take photos here is between 10am – 2pm while utilising the magic of a circular polariser. Even better, is if the low tide coincides with the timing, as this allows the camera to capture the beautiful greens of the sand and reefs that offsets the royal blue of the deeper water. The high overhead light during this time really allows all of the colours to pop.

Nikon D7200, 12-24mm lens at 22, f8, 1/250, iso 320

Story Behind the Shot – The Liberty Wreck

The Liberty Wreck

My first time diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali was in 2006 during a photo workshop I was conducting with Tim Rock at Scuba Seraya. During my very first dive on the wreck, I swam the length of the wreck scanning the site for the best photo opportunities. Once I reached the midship area, with the open cargo hold, I kept it in my mind as being one of the best “photo ops” of the wreck as it certainly offered a real feel of being in a proper shipwreck as opposed to only the colourful soft corals which are plentiful on the Liberty.  Being ever the opportunist, I immediately decided that I wanted to incorporate photos of this scene into the photo workshop that we were teaching. Therefore, for the rest of the week I worked with each of the participants to set up this same shot again and again with very positive results for everyone who took the shot. Although it looks like a simple shot, the difference in brightness inside and outside of the hold does make it a great learning process for new photographers to work out the intricacies of shooting natural light photography and silhouettes.

For anyone who has taken a photo class with me in Bali since then, you will most likely recognize the photo. Knowing a good learning experience when I found it, I continue to utilize this scene in all of the photo classes that we teach in Tulamben to this day and I am sure will continue to do so far into the future.

If you are diving with us here in Bali, let us know if you would like to try your hand at this photo opportunity, we are always happy to model for you!

Thanks to Sofie for being the model in this photograph with the Liberty Wreck

Mike Veitch

It’s Been Awhile!

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

We Are on Instagram!

Mola Instagram

We have finally jumped on the bandwagon and joined Instagram!  If you are not already on Instagram or don’t know what it is, it’s simply a photo sharing platform that allows you to send out photos for your friends and followers to admire.  Of course here at the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography and the Underwater Tribe, we take a lot of photos!  Therefore please follow our Instagram feeds for a daily dose of photo goodness from Bali and Beyond!  We have even come up with a way of posting photos in their original ratio instead of the square format

The Underwater Tribe @underwater_tribe

Mike Veitch @mikeveitch

Luca Vaime @luca_vaime

 

Let us know your Instagram account and we will follow you back.

High Season Approaches

Bali Manta

It’s that time of year once again, high season in Bali!  August to November is the time of year where we start running all around the island showing our guests the beauty of Bali both above and below the waves.  Although diving and traveling are great in Bali all year round, August is the traditional start of the boom season which lasts until mid to late September.  However, October is our personal favourite month for diving in Bali, the waters are usually calm and clear (in the north!) and there are still plenty of chances to see the Mola-Mola in the south.  Of course, what is a trip to Bali without a visit to the Manta Rays of Nusa Penida!

If you haven’t booked your trip to Bali yet there is no time like the present.

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!