From the Strange to the Beautiful

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I have a couple of days left to irritate you with my babbling on about my solo dive off the beach at Wongat Island  last Saturday. I worked on a few more images yesterday evening. They run from the very strange to the very beautiful. Get ready for a trip.

I can sit back and close my eyes and imagine plunging through an alien atmosphere in a space capsule. When I land and walk around in my space suit (stay with me here) I’m stunned by the strange and wonderful creatures which abide in this hostile world. I see things like this:Every time that I dive I am acutely aware that I am entering another world. The image above is of a couple of higher invertebrates, namely Sea Squirts. This species is Phallusia julinea.  Never mind the racy name (see φαλλός ). They are strange by any standard.

I had a lot of trouble getting this shot of a Blackbarred Razorfish (Iniistius tetrazona):They are very skittish and stay just far enough away that you can’t get a good shot. I had to get this one from about three or four metres away, which is much more distant than my normal shots of small subjects. My average camera to subject distance for little critters is 3 – 30 cm. This fish is in the family of Wrasses. This is a teenager in what is called the Initial Phase. This is the middle phase of development. The Juvenile Phase comes first and the Terminal Phase represents the adults. Very often the first two stages appear remarkably different from the adults.

This freakishly beautiful monstrosity is a juvenile Papuan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis):They are ridiculously easy to photograph, since all they do is hang in the water waiting an unsuspecting fish to mistake them for a bit of rubbish and move a bit too close to the toothy end. Then, with a clicking noise and a movement too quick for the human eye to see, the fish disappears into the mouth of the Lionfish, which is the common local name for these wonderful, poison-spined fish.

Here is a group of Periclimenes  shrimp enjoying themselves at the local disco located in a coral. The name of the joint is Heliofungia actiniformis.  You can pop in there for drink and shake your booty any day except Sunday from 8 PM until the early hours of the morning:Lady shrimp are admitted with no cover charge and receive a gratuitous cocktail of their choice to enhance their mood.

I accidentally got my camera stuck in the JPG mode for about half of the shots that I got on the dive. I usually shoot RAW:That statement has nothing to do with my attire. It’s a technical thing that you either know about or don’t. I’m not going to bore you with the explanation. The problem with not  going RAW is that you lose a lot of control over the colours, especially when shooting underwater. The shot above may look nice to you, but I can see a lot of problems with the hues. Never mind. The Chromis  are pretty anyway. I couldn’t figure out which species they are.

Speaking of pretty, I’ll show you pretty.

I found a nice little crab shell on the bottom and brought it up on Faded Glory.  We never take anything living from the reef, but an empty shell (with no resident hermit crab) or a crab shell is fair game. Our friend Ush started fooling around with it and I grabbed my camera. One doesn’t want to miss opportunities for the Kodak Moments:

So, I say once again. Beauty is where you find it.

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5 Responses to “From the Strange to the Beautiful”

  1. Tris Says:

    This last shot of the woman with the shell is spectacular- the smoothness, the skin tones, the expression/smile, the sharpness and clarity- looks like you were doing a glamour shoot mate- magazine quality and probably the best portrait I’ve seen from you here- just excellent!

  2. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for that, mate. Ush is a very lovely lady and a wonderful person to photograph. I hope that I get more opportunities. I’ve been working on some skin techniques and that shot was great practice. I spent about an hour on it. It was just a snap-shot, so I didn’t worry about the horrible back lighting. Next time I’ll think more about composition and lighting. I really wanted to get up on the beach at Wongat Island to do some proper shots, but we just never got around to it. I wouldn’t say that I’m getting bored with fish, but I think that I’ve gone about as far as I can go with my gear. I’ll just keep on cranking out the same stuff. I want to do more portrait work, maybe give you a little competition in monochrome, eh?

    I’ll have to play catch-up. Your stuff is consistently stunning.

  3. Mari Says:

    Hi MD,

    Great portrait pic of Ush. Well done! You managed to do a great job on the skin techniques. All the best in your endeavours to perfect your process.

    Have a great evening.


  4. MadDog Says:

    Hi Mari. Thanks for the kind comment. When I took that shot, I thought that it would be a throw-away. I showed it to her on the boat and told her that I’d email her a copy and she said she didn’t need it. I reckoned that she didn’t like it. That was okay with me because I thought that the horrible back lighting would make it worthless. Then, when I opened it up in Photoshop, I began to see how pretty she looked, so I spent about an hour working with it. I was pretty stunned myself by how nice it came out. – MadDog

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