In november/december 2009 Julie and I visited the Eastern Fields area in Papua New Guinea, joining a Wetpixel.com expedition with Eric Cheng and Tony Wu. We did two back to back trips on the Golden Dawn, the only liveaboard that visits the area. The Eastern Fields is a pretty remote atoll between Papua New Guinea and Australia, 450 nautical miles wide, consisting solely of submerged reefs. Nearest land is half a day’s travel away.
We knew before we went that this was going to be mostly a wide angle trip. That was going to make it a bit different from our usual trips, as Julie and I both like macro. The area was visually stunning, and Carl’s Ultimate was probably the most beautiful dive site I’ve ever seen. When the current picks up, the amount of life on that reef is so overwhelming you don’t know where to start. But a lot of this lushness was hard to photograph, and more suited to video. At some point I just stopped taking photo’s and watched the splendor in action.
We haven’t done a lot of diving this year, but at least in November we’re going all out again. We’ll be traveling to Papua New Guinea to dive the Eastern Fields area. This isn’t a regular destination due to the conditions, but we’re hoping for the best. We’re joining Eric Cheng and Tony Wu for 2 trips on the Golden Dawn, a boat we’ve seen before near Kimbe in PNG.
After that month we’ll be back in Amsterdam for the holidays and then off again to visit Julie’s mother in the Virgin Islands.
For about 2 years now I’ve been using Smugmug for partsofourwebsite. The people running Smugmug remind me of my own company and the way it started more than 15 years ago. A close nit group of people with a real passion for what they’re doing. I recently noticed they now allow you to embed slideshows of galleries in any website that accepts them so I thought I’d give it a go and embed a sampling of our underwater photos. In the not too distant future I also hope to replace most of our current Gallery2 based galleries with Smugmug galleries.
It’s always a bit exciting when you get something published for the first time. I just saw the latest issue of Sport Diver magazine at our regular dive shop Cane Bay Dive Shop with two of my images in it. Sport Diver regularly does an image callout to a selection of underwater photographers, and we joined this list a few months ago after they invited. When they asked for some images of St Croix I submitted some, and included some from other places as well. They printed two of my images. Very cool. I hope this will not be the last, as I must admit that Sport Diver pays very well for a dive magazine.
Here’s the two images. One is a Lemon Shark from the Bahamas. The other a Frog Fish at the St Croix pier.
About a year and a half ago Julie and I did a long trip in the Banda Sea. This is when the idea for another trip to Indonesia grew. Eric was thinking about doing a similar trip, from Northen Papua through Ambon towards Flores. We immediately agreed to join this trip, which eventually turned into a double trip. He also arranged for a well known guide named Graham Abbott. So we’ll be heading back to Indonesia for a full month on the Seven Seas liveaboard.
Since we’re in the area anyways, we also decided to take a small group into Lembeh, a well known diving mecca that both Eric and us have never been to. It’s a macro heaven, with black sand bottoms and some of the most amazing macro around. And to top it off, Julie and I will spend a few days in Singapore before the main trip, to acclimatize to the time zone change and catch up with some diving friends.
We can’t wait to start this trip. It promises to be a very rewarding trip and we expect a lot of good photographs. It’s also going to be great to see all our old friends again, as almost everyone on board will be someone we’ve already been diving with.
In may Julie went on a trip by herself. She claims it’s to see the Oceanic Whitetip sharks, but by now we all know it’s because of the pigs. It’s quite difficult to find these sharks. As the name suggests they are usually found in the open ocean, so basically you have to use a lot of bait and hope for the best. Last year this trip got skunked (one of the reasons I didn’t feel like going) but this year they got some good action.
On a recent trip to the Bahamas Julie photographed some really cute pigs. These are wild pigs that live on an island in the Bahamas, and whenever a boat stops on the beach they come over to check out if there are scraps. They’ll come right to your lens, even if you’re waist deep in water. Julie actually went on this trip, meant to track down Oceanic Whitetip sharks, to photograph these pigs and she got some nice shots. Who needs Oceanic Whitetips when you can photograph small piglets!
I’ve been meaning to do this for ages but I finally got around to it. I can now add SmugMug Galleries to WordPress which can then also be viewed with either Lightbox or PicLens. Ive been prompted to finally finish this by my friend Eric Cheng, who added this to his blog recently as well.
Here is a gallery I created at SmugMug’s request a few months ago »»»»
“We’ve been in the water for about an hour now. There’s about a dozen Lemon sharks circling around us. Suddenly Julie points into the distance and I quickly swirl my head that way. There is no mistaking the shape,size and pattern, here’s comes our first Tiger shark. Immediately the attitude of the divers changes; while you can basically ignore the Lemon sharks, you can not ignore the Tiger. It’s great to be back!”
You never know what to expect when you dive. During a dive in Indonesia I suddenly saw a sponge spawning. The event only lasted for a few minutes, but I was able to capture some images. It was the first time I ever saw this with my own eyes.
It’s always nice to win a prize in a competition. We don’t enter that many, actually only two this year, but you always hope one of your images will do well. One of the honors I hadn’t received yet was a Best of Show, until now. I got the BoS at the Underwater Images competition.
The image is of a Lizardfish being cleaned by a small goby taken in the US Virgin Islands. It was a coincidence that I even took the image. We had entered the water to take photos of mating hamlets at dusk. On our way to the spot where we had seen Hamlets we crossed some coral heads, and on one of them I noticed a Lizardfish with its mouth open. At first I figured I was too late, but as I got closer it just stayed there. For the next 15 minutes the goby kept coming back to clean this Lizardfish, and I got quite a few shots. Eventually it became too dark and I stopped, but it was a very cool experience.
I put two new articles online (dutch only) from Duiken Magazine. I wrote these articles in the end of 2007 and Duiken allows me to put the pdf’s online after a few months, which is very nice of them. They even provide me with the published pdf files. I wish all magazines would do that!
Julie and I have been pretty active in the last few years on Wetpixel, one of the best underwater photography sites. We are both staff members now, and help out where we can in running the site.
Eric Cheng, the founder of Wetpixel has recently started a magazine called “Wetpixel Quarterly. The second issue remembers the amazing photography of the legendary Jim Watt, who passed away way too early. It also contains portfolio’s of most of wetpixel staff members, including Julie and myself. We’re obviously very proud to be in such a quality publication.
In September/October of 2007 Julie and I went to Indonesia on a long trip through the Banda Sea. We visited some very remote islands, some of which have a very notorious history. Especially the Banda Islands themselves were fascinating. These islands are known as the spice islands, and many sea battles were fought over its riches in the 16/17/18th century.
I wrote a 4 page story about the trip which can be read in Duiken Magazine, and will be available as a pdf in a few weeks with this article.
What is even cooler is that Julie got the cover of the January issue with a nice image of 2 boys coming to pose underwater.
Every year Julie and I go to the Virgin Islands for about three months to visit Julie’s mother. Unfortunately it’s really warm there as well, while here in Amsterdam it’s cold, rainy and gloomy. But we’ll just have to sacrifice ourselves. We’ll be on the island of St Croix, which is by far the nicest of the US Virgin Islands. Ok, maybe St John is nicer, but just too small for us.
We normally do some diving there, but last year we actually got into horse riding as well. We know a local cowboy there who we helped out taking care of about 15 horses. We had a blast, so hopefully we can do that again this year. We started to take more advanced riding lessons here in Amsterdam just for that occasion.