Salty Fun

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Last Saturday, my friends and I motored out to Planet Rock  in Astrolabe Bay  for a morning dive. Going out to the rock is always a gamble. It can be a great dive, world class, really, or it can be miserable. Poor visibility caused by runoff from the Golgol River,  strong currents and bumpy water can make the fifteen minute trip out a waste of time. This time, the water was flat and there was no current. A thick layer of very turbid water from the river lay on top, making conditions below dark and greenish. The images required quite a lot of colour correction.

The top of the rock is quite flat, laying about eight metres below mean tide. Here you can see some of us, led by Richard Jones, just slipping down over the side to explore the slope around the edge:You can see Faded Glory’s  anchor resting in the jumble of wave-damaged coral. The life on top of the rock is constantly assaulted by wave action, but regrows very rapidly.

Soon after getting wet, I saw this lovely Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata)  tightly nestled into a crevice:

The light was very dim and greenish. I vacillated between flash and no flash. I much prefer the natural “that’s the way I saw it” colours. I used no flash in the shot above. The colours are natural. However, if the light is too dim, camera settings become a problem. The shutter speed will be so slow that the image will be blurred. In that case, you have to flash.

The result, while being pretty and colourful, does not represent the colours of nature. The spectrum of light from the flash is completely different from light at depths more than a very few metres, because of the absorption and scattering of certain wavelengths by sea water:

I enjoyed the dive much more than any I have done since returning from Australia. I attribute that to my plan to help my brain to rewire itself and find a new normality which allows me to find satisfaction and joy in the everyday activities which formerly spiced my life and gave me a measure of happiness. More about that later.

Because the peculiar lighting seemed to be giving me some opportunities to try some effects that I’ve been thinking about, I jumped in with both feet and produced some high contrast “dark reef” shots:

These are just a couple of the series which I shot. I’ll be showing some more of them later. I do like the effect. I didn’t try to hide the green cast in the shot above. On most of the rest of the images, I subdued it.

Here is another “dark reef” image. This one works nicely for me. I particularly like the way it brings out the globular shape of the coral in the centre:

I got about thirty usable images from Saturday’s dive, so you’ll be staying wet for a while. I also got some very nice shots when I went up at Blueblood on Sunday. I’ll be mixing those in over the next few days.

Which brings me back to “how did it go”? Excuse me while I take a Tuesday dive back into my diary mode.

Dear diary,

Well, this weekend I decided, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” I either need to be proactive to toss off these blankets of depression, self-pity and misery or continue in the current state, which is quite unacceptable. If I stop to examine the situation objectively, I can see that there is no reason for such a pitiful state of mind.

So, my attitude should be that if nothing is hindering me from enjoying the moment, then I should reject negative chatter in my head, which distracts me, pay attention to what is happening, and allow myself to react “normally” – as I once would have.

It’s a little tricky to get it right. I had some false starts which felt like faking. Then, during the dive I forced myself to concentrate on the photography and not let my mind wander. Back on the boat, I paid attention to what was being said and let myself be captured by the pleasant mood of my friends.

Up at Blueblood on Sunday, I engaged in a ruthless game of Pétanque. Late in the afternoon, for the first time in ages, I got into the water with friends and tossed a Frisbee – badly. I laughed out loud. I leapt, I splashed.

I think this might work.

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12 Responses to “Salty Fun”

  1. Steven Says:

    Ah, dear Jan, you are a natural-born Buddhist (a high complement from me, to my Christian friend! lol!) What you are practicing is a very powerful *mindfulness* and presence, the very essence of my own practice. Everything you said in your “diary” was so skillful, so right on, I had this huge grin on my face as I read it.

    Just keep it up. Your own heart is showing you the way, and yes, you *can* choose what to pay attention to, what to give credence to, what to focus on and what not to. This kind of mindfulness is healing and the very opposite of denial and blocking, which is the “near enemy” of right choice and right concentration.

    (The “near enemy” is what we Buddhist call things that might look like a good thing but are actually an enemy — e.g, pity is the “near enemy: of compassion; apathy is the “near enemy” of equanimity.)

    Keep up the good work; pay attention, just the way your are doing, dear friend. That’s the way to heal the heart and mind.

    With affection,

  2. Lorraine Collins Says:

    Happy that you’ve started your own journey towards happiness. You know it’s what Eunie would want for you. BIIIIIIIIIIIG HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGS!

  3. L. Witham Says:

    I was in junior high I think (or earlier?) when I saw the Poseidon Adventure. For nearly 6 months I had a terrible time going to sleep because my mind went over and over the scary scenes and just freaked me out every night. I would move to the living room to sleep. Finally one morning when my mom saw me there, and I told her my dilemma, she said a very wise and simple thing: “Think about something else.” Duh! So each night, I would recall the entire day, minute by minute, “Woke up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, said good morning to Mom…” I wasn’t allowing my brain space to think of the movie. And it would take very little recalling before I would get sidetracked in thought then fall asleep. I’ve remembered my mom’s simple plan since then.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Hmmm . . . Steven, that’s not surprising. As a whipper-snapper I was exposed to a great deal of Buddhist thought. I’m still pretty familiar with the vocabulary and concepts such as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Middle Way. I admit that my understanding is very shallow. It’s interesting that I really can find little to reject in Buddhism, because it seems to me to encompass a great many truths. Since I truly believe that “all truth is God’s truth” I have an easy relationship with Buddhists and Buddhist thought.

    I do take your comment as a complement, because I have a fair understanding of why you speak so. I can see why my “diary” made you grin.

    Peace, brother,

  5. MadDog Says:

    You are so right, Lorraine. As I would have wished Eunie future happiness if I had known that I was the one leaving, I know that she wishes it for me. Thanks for the hugs, babe.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Lori, what you did is very much the same as what I am doing. It seems to be effective. It would probably be good if I developed a bag of “emergency thoughts” when the chatter in my head is on a roll and I need to shut it off. The trick is to find though trains that simply run right over all the other things. They have to be pretty powerful.

  7. Steven Says:

    Well said, and well understood, MadDog! We truly “grok” each other, as brothers in the spirit, and I have no problem with “all truth is God’s truth,” because the truth is just what it is, and things just work they way they work. What we call it, finally, matters so little, compared to the living of it, which is the spirit.

    Anyway, I think you are really inspired in what you are doing and that it’s very, very skillful.

    With great affection,

  8. Helen Jones Says:

    Good to hear you are attempting happiness, like Lorraine says there is no doubt whatsoever that Eunie would have wished this for you, but also she would know that you will always be a little sad tooxxx

  9. MadDog Says:

    Helen, you are right on both counts. It’s certain that Eunie would want me to be happy. Why shouldn’t she? It is also certain that a great sadness will never leave me. I will, for the rest of my life, think of what might have been if she were still with me.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Steven, I wonder how many readers today know what the work “grok” means?

    I do enjoy examining the differences between world views, especially between friends who have no axe to grind. Well, I do  have an axe, but it a very patient and forbearing one. Comparisons expose differences, of course. However it is more the similarities which interest me. Once they are understood, the way to reconciliation is made smoother. If reconciliation is not possible, at least agreeable disagreement, friendship and brotherhood are still possible because of the common human spirit with which we are endowed by our creator.

    I agree that I am inspired in the sense that God it doing much of the work.

    Keep the faith, man,

  11. Walt Says:

    Hi MadDog … I like the “dark reef” look … the second one especially has some nice negative space to bring out the design. Getting into the moment & not getting caught up in our mental chatter … I think that’s a good thing for all of us to remember.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Walt, I am a big fan of negative space in images. Once you get the hang of that compositional idea you can do some very interesting work.

    The nagging, negative mental chatter is very characteristic of depression and I’m oh, so familiar with it. It’s been the enemy standing at my back with a knife all my life. With a great deal of practice one can learn to turn it off, but it requires concentration which is also exhausting. I wish for a simple switch or a mute button.