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.
Nevertheless we did take a lot of images, and even managed to take some macro shots.
read on to view our gallery
Julie and I just returned from a 45 day dive trip in Indonesia. This is pretty long even for us. We did 40 consecutive days of diving, and did well over 100 dives in total. The trip took us from Lembeh in North Sulawesi to North-West Papua, Raja Ampat, Halmahera, Ambon, Banda, Alor and Flores. We saw many things we’d never seen before, including Harlequin Shrimps, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, mating Cuttlefish, and much more. We had great company, including fellow Wetpixel Administrators Eric Cheng, Matt Segal and Craig Jones. We’ll soon have a gallery online, but until then read our tripreport which includes some of our images. For dutch photographers Cor is doing a talk about this trip on the next AquaShot evening on April 17.
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.
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.
Read on for some Oceanic Whitetip images
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!
Continue on for more pig picures
A few weeks ago we were contacted by Brendan O’Brien asking if we’d like to write a little piece about how we entered the world of photojournalism. Of course my immediately answer was “But we’re not photo journalists!”. According to him we are, and I suppose you can argue either way. We have been published in several magazines, we have had several covers, and the whole field of photojournalism is undergoing a major change anyways. What used to be a very closed community has now changed to a world wide arena of bloggers and other online writers.
I quite like Brendan’s blog. It’s got a lot of interesting information for new writers and photographers. Information that is hard to come by if you don’t know how this world operates. I highly recommend it for anyone that’s interested in getting published.
Read Our Story on Brendan’s blog.
For the first time in the 15 years that Julie and I have been a couple, we’re separated for more than a week. Julie is on her way to the Bahamas to dive with Oceanic Whitetips. That’s what she’s telling people anyways. Her real motivation is wild pigs! Honestly..wild pigs! She saw some pictures made by Alex Mustard last year, and she wants to meet those pigs. At first I did not really want to go, but I wish I had gone after all because being home alone sucks!
I’ll be joining Julie in 11 days for a second trip diving with Dolphins and Tiger Sharks.
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.
At wetpixel.com, where I am a co-admin, there is a weekly contest called ‘Photo of the Week‘. Every wetpixel community member can upload some images, and everyone can vote for the winner. This is producing some incredible photo’s, and over the year a set of images that can rival almost anything out there. To increase the exposure of these images I have created a Facebook application called ‘Underwater Photo Of The Week’. It lets you add the POTW to your profile, and lets you see all the previous winners.Â Now potentially millions of people can see these amazing photo’s straight from Facebook.
I’ve also made a WordPress widget, which allows people running WordPress to add the POTW to their blog. You can see that in action in our own journal.
In the last few years, images of mating Hamlets have turned up in several publications. Julie and I love watching natural behavior, but we’ve never really taken the time to go out and photograph Hamlets. St Croix is actually a very good place to do this, as there are different species of Hamlets here, and lots of them. So we finally went out last night to see what all the hubhub is about.
We didn’t really know what to expect. We’ve photographed mating behavior of other species before, and some species, like for instances Dragonets can be really difficult to approach. So we were ready to stalk our prey and stop breathing. None of this turned out to be necessary. The Hamlets were completely oblivious to our presence and at times would actually swim within two feet of us by themselves. Their mating session lasted for about 30 minutes, during which they went up into the water column about a dozen times to mate. It was quite interesting to watch.
So here it is, my very first image, shot when they went up the first time.
Julie won a second place in the Underwater Art section of the new contest by Australasia Scuba Diver magazine. She won a nice liveaboard price with an image of a pipe fish shot in Indonesia.
Julie has the cover of Scuba Diver Australasia for issue 4 of 2007. It’s an image of a kid in Indonesia playing with us under water. Julie also has a portfolio in the same issue.
We’ve returned from our trip to Komodo. It was by far the best trip Julie and I ever did. Not only did we have great people on board, including Eric Cheng, Norbert Wu and Andy Sallmon, we also got to see many critters we’ve never seen before. Horseshoe Bay is now our most favorite dive site.
Not only did we see cool stuff underwater, we also saw a Komodo Dragon in the wild. As it entered the beach we were anchored at we rushed to shore and took some photo’s. The dragon was quite nervous but let us get really close.
The Kararu explorer was a nice boat, even though it seems to lack a bit in maintenance. We had a lot of equipment failures, which was quite annoying. But the amazing wildlife makes up for it, so we’ll go back anytime.