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Month: July 2010

Swooping Manta Rays

Swooping Manta Rays

Swooping Manta Rays, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.

Manta-sizing in Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands.

An early morning boat from Uepi takes you into Marovo Lagoon where Manta Rays, true gentle giants, feed and frollick in the mornings.

On snorkel, you quietly enter the water when the boat driver advises and wait patiently for the mantas. To get photos like this, you need to free dive down 5-6m and let the mantas come to you.

These magnificent creatures are huge – the wingspan of the one in the foreground was probably about 3m (10ft) from tip to tip.

Its ocean encounters like these that make diving (scuba, free or snorkelling) an amazing experience.

Photographically it was a little challenging. Being a shallow location in the lagoon, the water was green-ish. With the sun low on the horizon, ambient light was minimal. Snorkelling around the lagoon to follow them, we probably moved several hundred metres over the space of an hour or so.

Its an amazing way to start a day.

Change of Feed Address

Change of Feed Address

For a long time, the feed address for this blog has been Just to get everything consistent, I’m in the process of changing this to Could all those following this blog do me a favour and change their subscription over to this.
The old feed will continue to work, but I am promoting the new one going forward to keep consistent in the naming used for various things.


Sunrise Over Coogee

Sunrise Over Coogee

Sunrise Over Coogee, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.

Coogee Beach Sunrise 19 July 2010.

It was a beautiful winters morning in Sydney. Quite cool, and I was impressed with the number of swimmers who came and had a dip in this ocean pool at Coogee. Hardy souls indeed!

This is an HDR image. Three images (0, +2 EV and -2 EV) were made consecutively. From Aperture I used the Photomatix plugin to merge and tonemap the resulting image you see here.

This process allowed me to capture the full range of tones I saw in the morning – more than my camera could “see” in any single exposure.

Nudi Feasting

Nudi Feasting

Nudi Feasting, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.

Today’s photo of the day was made at Billy Ghizo Point, near Uepi Island in September 2009.

This image features the gorgeous little nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, with its soft body, vivid rhinopores and gills, eating something. The mouth is clearly extended.

In underwater photography, our biggest challenge is that water ruins photos. We need to get as close as possible to our subjects to reduce the water column, so we tend to use wide angle and macro photography (like this one).

Little creatures are often in nooks and crannies. I don’t like to move this to make a better photo, so live with the fact that sometimes I get a bit of shadowing or distraction in the foreground or background.

Layabout Reimagined

Layabout Reimagined

Layabout Reimagined, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.


Layabout was an image I originally published in 2005 on my Flickr photostream. It is a personal favourite – I like the composition and the colours.

With the dynamic range of the camera I was shooting on at the time (a Nikon D100), I recently wondered how its would look with HDR. I came out with 2 versions – one with a more realistic range of tones and better saturation than the original, and this one!

This image – Layabout Reimagined – is an example of the artsy effect that can be achieved with HDR. It can’t be described as realistic – its an unrealistic impression of a real scene. But it is striking.

Personally, I prefer the more natural usage of HDR, but its worth experimenting and playing with, and understanding the effects you can get with the software.

HDR tonemapping applied to an originally made on a Nikon D100 in 2005. My goal was to experiment with the more painterly effect that can be achieved with HDR.


Rays of Light

Rays of Light

Rays of Light, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.

This is another image from our trip to Uepi in September 2009. This one was made at a site called General Store, which featured swim throughs and overhangs.

I was quite taken by the effect of light rays streaming down in many of these spots, and was quite keen to capture this light.

This image was made with a 12-24mm wide angle lens on my Nikon D200. Basic adjustment was made in Aperture, and a small amount of tone-mapping was applied in Photomatix.

Fort Impossible

Fort Impossible

Fort Impossible, originally uploaded by BlueBeyond.

Bare Island Fort, La Perouse was the setting of parts of one of the Mission Impossible movies, hence the title of this image. Its apt, because the beautiful colours and saturation aren’t really possible in traditional photography, and rely on HDR.

Three images were made about 30 minutes before sunrise – just as the morning twilight started. One was correctly exposed, and then one was 2 stops under and one 2 stops over. The three images were then merged in PhotoMatix Aperture plug-in, and tonemapped.

Sunrise was at 6.58am. Bare Island is a very popular scuba diving location only 20 minutes south of Sydney city, close to Sydney airport.

Calm Beside the Storm

Calm Beside the Storm

Calm Beside the Storm

Today’s photo the day is another image I made during our holiday to Uepi Island Resort in September 2009.

From time to time they have a shark feed hear, at the “Welcome Jetty”. As someone who believes in protecting sharks, and also creating an appropriate understanding of them and their importance to the ocean’s eco-systems, I must admit to being in 2 minds about shark feeds.

Uepi’s policy on shark feeds, and the way they conduct them, is quite sincere. Their belief is that the shark feeds have helped to rebuild healthy shark stocks in the area, and it is also an environmentally friendly way of disposing of some kitchen waste (important given their remoteness). Given that there were 20-30 sharks on each feed, and regular sightings on many dives, I’d have to say they seem to have been successful in this.

They only allow 2-3 people in the water at a time, and those people must stay completely under the welcome jetty. The feed is tossed away from the jetty, and a distance to keep guests out of the melee (it is a true frenzy), but close enough to allow some photos. Many of the sharks will break off from the frenzy and circle around to take a look at us, but never were we threatened.

Since the shark feed was happening anyway (twice during our 10 day visit), I couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste, and jumped in the water and took photos. Belinda also took photos with our other camera from the jetty. I’ll post some of those images later.

This image shows the enourmous school of fish that congregates near the jetty – constantly. They did not appear troubled by the feeding of the sharks, although they did move to stay out of the way of being in the line of fire!

This image was from the first shark feed. I didn’t have my mind around natural light photography, and the fast moving pace, so was shooting manual. In retrospect, I should’ve been in shutter priority mode (a mode I almost never use underwater). So many of the images weren’t exposed well, or were blurry. This one has been corrected “in post” to get the colour exposure back.

On the second dive (I’ll be sure to post images to the BlueBeyond Flickr gallery later), I had the right shutter priority mode, but wouldn’t you know it, the water was much greener and had a lot sediment in it.

I’m still in 2 minds about shark feeds, but they do make great photographic opportunities!

UwP Mag Issue 55 Now Available

UwP Mag Issue 55 Now Available

Issue 55 of the premier online magazine just for Underwater Photographers – UwPMag – has been released, and is now available for free download at

UwP Mag issue 55 contains the following news and information for underwater photographers:

News, Travel & Events

  • Cameras Underwater presents Martin Edge & Alex Mustard On Underwater Photography, 6th November 2010, Imperial College, London.
  • Manado’s First Annual Fish & Critter Hunt  with Ned and Anna DeLoach 16th – 23rd October 2010
  • San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition Call for entries  by July 15th 2010
  • Maria Munn Photography Workshop SY Mandarin Siren 9 – 19th January 2011
  • Underwater Photo Tutorials, Online education for the Underwater Photographer Created by Jack and Sue Drafahl
  • North Sea Film Festival Studio/K in Amsterdam  November 19 – 21
  • Aaron Wong  Photography Workshops SY Philippine Siren
  • INON UK Uw Photo Course
  • Wetpixel Alaska Expedition June 11-23 2011 with Eric Cheng and Alex Mustard
  • Manatees with Mauricio Handler January 31- Feb 5 &- Feb 5-10, 2011
  • Underwater Photography for Compact Camera Users by Maria Munn
  • Thirteenth Beach: Diving adventures around the world by Wade Hughes
  • “Visions in the Sea” Summer Series Charlie Hood Workshop – Wildlife of Cornwall 3rd &4th July 2010
  • Wetpixel Night Safari Ambon 2010 With Eric Cheng and Tony Wu 7 – 16th Nov 2010

New Products

  • Zen PT-EP01 Dome
  • INON Snoot Set for S-2000
  • Light & Motion Sola 600
  • See Life and Hugyfot
  • Subal ND3 housing for Nikon D3/D3x
  • Ultralight TR-DM
  • Amphibico housing for Sony HDR XR550V AND CX550V
  • SUBAL DP-100 ‘The Small One’
  • SharkTees
  • Olympus PT-EP01
  • Ultralight TR-LB
  • Subal CD4 for Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Aquatica housing for the Canon 550 / T2i Rebel
  • INON M67 Lens Adapter Base for Fujifilm FinePix 80 & 200

Equipment reviews

  • The “Fibresnoot” by Phil Mercurio
  • The New Kid Named Canon G11 By Lawrence Alex Wu

Photo Competitions



  • Trials and Tribulations….. of shooting a Dive Training reverse cover ByJoseph C. Dovala

Marine life

  • With the sperm whales of the mid-Atlantic Ridge by Wade Hughes FRGS


  • Raptures of the Emerald Deep. British Columbia’s Diving Wonders by Jett Britnell
  • Philippine Impressions By Eric Hanauer
  • Rig Diving in Borneo by Mark Webster
  • Muck Diving in St. Kitts – By Jason Phillip
  • The ‘golden islands’ of the French Riviera by Jean-Philippe Borges

Parting Shots

  • by Lena Holm and Joris van Alphen
Mite on Nudi Action

Mite on Nudi Action

Today’s image was also made at Uepi in September 2009, and features a nudibranch (Phyllidia varicosa) that is quite common in tropical Pacific waters.

Mite on Slug Action

It was captured at a dive site called BOTCH (Bottom Of The CHannel), which lies in the channel between Uepi Island and the adjacent island.

BOTCH is a more advanced dive, with depths of 40m+ being encountered, along with the possibility of reasonable currents. It is these currents which bring nutrients, creating a diversity of large and small marine life

This nudibranch (P. varicosa) was quite photogenic, being colourful and lying on a colourful background. I must admit I didn’t notice the parasites on it until I downloaded the images to my laptop after the dive.

The nudi is quite large, and with my single strobe positioned over the top, there was some shadow detail under the mantle. Some basic HDR tone mapping has brought the shadow detail out quite nicely (IMHO), and also given the colours a natural pop.

Vertical Wreck

Vertical Wreck

Vertical Wreck
Originally uploaded by BlueBeyond

My photo of the day today is a picture of the Taiyo wreck in Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands. A Taiwanese fishing vessel on its maiden voyage ran aground on the adjacent reef. The sheer wall of the reef drops down to several thousand metres!

During the salvage, the vessel slipped bank and sank, stern first. The stern got wedged in a coral outcrop at just over 40m, and now rests vertically – one of only two known vertical wrecks in the world. The bow (pictured) comes to about 2m.

On the day we dived the wreck in September 2009, the water was uncharacteristically murky with a lot of sediment. I decided to shoot mostly with natural light (without strobes). Even so, the majority of the images had a gloomy green cast. Gloomy is ok for wrecks, but not so the green cast. I felt that the image may be better in monochrome, and this is the result.

Would appreciate any feedback!

MacBook Air: The Next iOS4 Device?

MacBook Air: The Next iOS4 Device?

Since the renaming of the iPhoneOS as the iOS, its become clear that this operating system holds a far bigger place in Apple’s futures product lines than simply phone devices. Already it features in the iPhone (4 versions), iPod touch and most recently the wonderful iPad.

The question remains: what next?

A lot of speculation is that the AppleTV will be ported to the iOS. I think thats likely, and overdue, especially since the AppleTV is well overdue an upgrade. But I think there’s another possibility.

Its been quite a while since the MacBook Air has been updated, and it strikes me that the Air is a perfect candidate for a mobile oriented OS like iOS.

Think about it, but a MacBook Air is little more than an iPad with a keyboard and a tracking device. It works best with over the air connectivity, like the iPad, and would work well with online cloud based data that will hopefully be opened up with MobileMe or similar (beyond Calendar, Contacts, Bookmarks, etc).

If the iOS could be upgraded to include the ability to deal with a keyboard, track pad and real access to cloud based storage, then it would be the perfect OS for a MacBook Air replacement. Low profile apps would be perfect, as would MobileMe for iWork and other app data storage.

This is pure speculation, of course, but I’m willing to bet we’ll see something similar to this within a year – perhaps by year end. In fact, with the well publicised fact that iOS4 won’t be available for the iPad until year end, I’m willing to bet this would be a good timing for such a release, or at least announcement.

What do you think? Would you buy an iBook Air?