Weekly Photo Challenge – Shine

Fluorescent Coral

Fluorescent Coral

Did you know that most coral polyps fluoresce? Here’s a shot taken on a night dive during our recent trip to Belize. I used a blue spot light to excite the fluorescence in these beautiful coral polyps helping me find them in the dark. To photograph them, I placed a blue excitation filter on my strobe and a yellow filter over the camera lens to cancel the blue which allowed me to capture the true color of the the fluorescence.

Diving in this dark underwater environment at night with a blue light is like being on one of the dark rides at Disney World where they use black lights and fluorescent paint to make the figures more vibrant. The corals shine brilliantly!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Look Up

The Grotto

The Grotto

Here’s a shot looking straight up to the sky from the bottom of the “Grotto” – a natural amphitheater on the banks of the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. The Grotto is the site for several music concerts held during the Moab Music Festival every year. I have been fortunate enough to attend two of these concerts in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Curve

Fluorescent Brain Coral

Fluorescent Brain Coral

I have been reading about fluorescence on the coral reefs for some time, so during our recent trip to Roatan, Honduras, I decided to try my hand at photographing it. Many life forms on the reefs fluoresce, but almost all corals do. To be able to see the fluorescence, one needs a blue light to excite it and then a yellow filter to cancel out the blue light to be able to see the true color of the fluorescence. And to photograph it, one also needs a blue filter for the strobe and a yellow filter for the camera.

So…I went equipped. Peter and I took yellow filters to go over our masks and I brought along a blue “Night Sea” LED light on a night dive. When we got to the coral reefs, it was like being on a ride in Disney World! Everything glowed in greens, oranges and even some pinks. On that night dive, I did not take the camera – as there’s just too much going on, but I did return the next day with filters on the strobe and camera.

This shot was taken during daylight hours, but the fluorescence in this brain coral was highly visible and photographable. What I love about this particular coral is that the “valleys” fluoresce, but the “hills” don’t. For comparison, here’s another shot of that same brain coral without the fluorescent lights and filters. Who would have guessed?

Christmas Tree Worms

Christmas Tree Worms

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Pure

Juvenile Drum Fish

Juvenile Drum Fish

Pure delight. Pure beauty. Pure innocence. This little juvenile drum fish is one of those symbols of young life on the reef. They’re fairly rare, spend most of their time flitting around in small confined places under overhangs on the reef, and they live in these small confined places because it’s relatively safe there for young fish.

Juvenile drums are relatively hard to photograph because they are always moving – quickly – so it was pure delight for me to be able to capture a shot of this little one during our trip to Roatan, Honduras this past week.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Dance

Saddled Blenny

Saddled Blenny

Whenever I’m scuba diving, I feel that I’m in the midst of a constant dance – the creatures and the water ever moving rhythmically. My biggest challenge was to choose one shot, but I loved the tango-esque posture of this fish. I give you the Saddled Blenny who was gracious enough to light for a few seconds to have his picture taken.

Blennies are tiny little fish who constantly dart around on sandy bottoms or coral heads. This one was about an inch long.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Eye Spy

Balloon Fish Eyes

When I saw the prompt, I knew immediately what I wanted to post! This is a balloon fish and this is an exact capture of its iridescent eyes. These little guys hang out in shallow waters around 20 feet near the sandy bottom. They seem quite curious about the large black creature with the bright light and they’ll slowly move towards or away from it.

This is the first balloon fish I’ve ever seen and I found him in the shallows near Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Victory

Victory

Victory

I mentioned in my post on October 30 that I had done an afternoon of mentoring at the Cathy Church Underwater Photography School on Grand Cayman two weeks prior. I asked my teacher to help me understand lighting better and show me how to use my new strobe. She did just that and I quickly came up to speed during our dive together. As I went solo during the diving for the rest of the week, I felt a sense of victory and I think I “got” it.

Here’s a shot of some feather dusters sitting on a shipwreck and I’m very pleased with the lighting.

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