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 – 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

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

Story Behind the Shot – Hungry Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle

 

One of my favourite underwater photo subjects are turtles, it doesn’t matter if it’s a “relatively” common hawksbill turtle or green turtle or any of the other more endangered turtles, I am always happy to encounter any turtle when diving. On this particular encounter on the island of Layang Layang in Sabah, Malaysia, I ran into this friendly hawksbill turtle who was happily munching away on sponge embedded in the hard coral.  As with any turtle encounter, I stopped and watched it for a few moments to see if it would be spooked by my presence or if it would allow me to get closer.  After watching it for a while I decided that it wasn’t bothered by my presence and so I slowly moved closer in order to take a few photos.  After snapping a couple of shots from the side I then decided to see if the turtle would allow me to approach from the front, as this photo can attest, it sure did!  As I moved from the side toward the front I realized that the turtle was allowing me to get quite close, but as I started to maneuver my strobes closer to the port the young hawksbill turtle decided that it was a lot more interested in my dome port than the sponges!  Abandoning the idea of moving my strobes, instead I started backpedaling away from the hungry hawksbill while snapping off a few photos and trying to avoid “turtle bites” on my port!  My guess is he/she reacted to the reflection of another turtle in the port and the attempted biting was in order to scare off a potential competitor.  After I backed off again the happy hawksbill went right back to munching on sponge and ignoring my ungainly presence.  Although I didn’t necessarily get the lighting correct on this shot, it is a photo that stands out as it was really a funny situation with a personable turtle who was intent on showing me who’s the boss!

Layang Layang, Sabah, Malaysia – Nikon D90, Aquatica Housing, 10-17mm lens, f10, 1/100, Sea and Sea Strobes

Mike Veitch

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

It’s A Sharky Kinda Day with a Silvertip!

We don’t really need to make an excuse around here to take a photo of a shark, so why not have a beautiful juvenile silvertip as today’s Photo of the Day!  This incredible shark is not very big, maybe only 4 feet long but he sure did have a staggering amount of swagger, silvertip sharks have one of the most “shark” profiles of any requiem sharks and truly are one of the most graceful large ocean predators.  Mike Veitch

 

Juvenile Silvertip

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 – 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 – Wide Angle Lembeh

Although it is known as a macro location, the Lembeh Strait is also a very under rated wide angle photography location.  Besides the stunning reefs on the east and north ends of the island, there are sites within the strait that also host some amazing wide angle opportunities.  Dive sites such as California Dreaming, Angels Window, and Crab a Goby offer reasonably clear water as well as a plethora of sea fans, sea whips, soft corals and other classic wide angle photo opportunities.  However, the wide angle photo opportunities in Lembeh really come into their own when concentrating on Close Focus Wide Angle opportunities on Lembeh’s more signature muck sites.  The “wow” factor of shooting mucky creatures with a wide angle lens is what makes Lembeh Wide Angle photos really stand out from the crowd as a “soft coral” photo can be from anywhere.  During our annual Photography Workshop in Lembeh at NAD we always discuss the benefits of shooting wide in a macro location, join us this July and learn how to improve your wide angle muck photography!

 

Hairy Frogfish Lembeh

Nik in the Sunrays

We just recently finished our incredible 9 day trip aboard the Mermaid II Liveaboard in Raja Ampat with a great group of divers and some amazing diving.  The weather, the waves, the sun, the fish, and the corals are cooperated perfectly and all of these elements came together to make one outstanding dive trip for our Underwater Tribe group.  We can’t wait to do it again soon as the diving in Raja Ampat is one of the best dive experiences out there.  A full report will be coming soon but here is a sneak peak of one of our friends Nik enjoying a bit of sun while underwater in Misool!

Nik in the Light