Bomber Beauties

Posted in Under the Sea on May 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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Wehn we arrived near Wongat Island  on Saturday morning to dive The Green Dragon, an American B-25 Mitchell bomber which was shot down by Japanese gunners during WWII the sun was bright and the sea was pancake flat. It looked as if we were going to get one of those “Paradise Days”. We weren’t wrong.

After a string of rainy Saturdays, It was quite pleasant to have an entire day of sunshine. When we arrived at The Green Dragon,  lying on the reef at about twenty metres, I immediately began photographing the beautiful scenery, including Genevieve, who peered inside the fuselage through one of the waist gun ports as I photographed her from the opposite side:

This is a favourite gimmick at the bomber. It offers the opportunity to frame a model in an interesting and easy to compose setting. Another favourite is “sitting in the cockpit” which you will see tomorrow.

Here is one of the best shots that I’ve gotten of the dorsal twin 50 calibre machine guns of the B-25. Japanese gunners had to brave these two death-dealers when attacking from above. The one thing which was certain is that the warrior inside this turret was just as determined to live through the experience as the attacker. You can clearly see the devastation to the turret caused by the anti-aircraft fire which downed the war bird. It’s a sombre experience to view this:The whole experience of diving The Green Dragon  is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. The most common remarks which I hear from first-time divers are those of reflection. One can’t take in the scene without thinking of the circumstances which created this amazing dive site. It is one of the best preserved WWII aircraft left in Papua New Guinean waters.

Inside the fuselage, under an ammunition box, I found these beautiful tubeworms:I can’t identify the species, but no matter, the are lovely just the same.

Another familiar creature, a Pipefish, similarly escapes by ability to identy the species. It is one which I have not seen before:The spots on this one are very nice and worth clicking to see the detail.

The resident Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita)  was in its burrow under starboard wing of The Green Dragon:

I think that this might be the best shot of a Ribbon Eel which I’ve ever snapped. You can see the juvenile colouration here and a couple of more adults here and here.

Stay tuned for more irrelevant nonsense tomorrow. I’m a wellspring of idle amusement.

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Still Hungry? Have Some More Fish

Posted in Under the Sea on August 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m still catching up with myself on posts, since I was out of commission for three days hammering away on Photoshop for two magazine articles. I finished about forty images, so I will have some left over for probably one more article. I just have to think about what to write about. That’s always the hard part. The images are easy and fun, as long as you don’t hit it for more than about twelve hours at a time. If you do, you get a terrible headache and then you have to drink some beer. Being a free-lancer is a hard life. You get to have fun for twelve solid hours and then drink some beer. I don’t know how I can stand the pressure.

I showed you this Bulb Anemone some time ago. I never was satisfied that I captured the extraordinary colours that I saw with my eyes. Sometimes the combination of the sensor technology in the cameras and the way Photoshop interacts with the images does not reproduce the colours as they were seen. That’s where the work comes in. I worked for about an hour on this one, just to get the colours right. I’ve never seen another anemone this colour. The whole field of them look ghostly white from above. I think that they are sick:

An ethereal Bulb Anemone

It’s very pretty, even if it doesn’t look real. That’s the way I saw it.

While we’re on things that most people never see, have a look at the head of this Crocodile Fish. I’m too lazy at the moment to look these critters up in my fish book, but someday I will come back and add the taxonomic names and put them in as tags. That gets me a lot of hits on the site from people who are looking for images of specific creatures:

Crocodilefish

Have a nice dream about that one tonight.

Coral Trout – Coral Cod – these are local names and not to be trusted for identification. They are pretty, anyway:

Coral Trout or Coral Cod - as you please

And, YES, this fish is actually as red as the image makes it look. If you get the sun on it at the right angle, it’ looks like a plastic toy:

A truly drastic Coral Cod

You have to click to enlarge to see the bright blue spots on the skin. The Coral Cod above was shot under the wing of the B-25 bomber at Wongat Island. Part of the reason that it looks so bright is that I had to use flash to get the shot. I really prefer to work with natural light, but sometimes there is just not enough of it.

Time for one more shot. This is not a great cuttlefish shot, but it’s the best one that I have, so far. They are actually pretty easy to photograph, since they are so curious and tend to hang around until somebody scares it and it disappears with a puff of black ink left in its wake:

Cuttlefish

It seem as if I’ve missed more cuttlefish shots than just about any other critter. Either I don’t have my camera, or somebody else sees one and doesn’t let me know. I just hate it when I get back on the boat and somebody says, “Did you see the fantastic __________ ? (Fill in the blank). I just smile and reach for a cigar.

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More Wongat Island Miscellanea

Posted in Under the Sea on February 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m almost finished reminiscing about Wednesday afternoon’s dive. The torture will soon be over.

Amidst the abundant life there is a small anemone that has been near the bow of the Henry Leith   for many years. It is the true home of Nemo and his extended family. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Nemo lives in Madang and always has. All you kiddies out there, watch Nemo now. In case you are wondering, Nemo is the big one that keeps coming into the middle of the shot:Back over at the Green Dragon B-25 bomber I took this shot of the yoke (the “steering wheel”) with the usual bunch of tiny fish swimming around:

Yoke of the Green Dragon B-25 bomber in Madang, Papua New Guinea
Up on the tip of the port wing, where the giant barrel sponge is, I captured this Pixy Hawkfish [red variation] (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus):
Pixy Hawkfish (red variation) (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus)
Much, much too much work at work is driving me crazy. It’s cutting deeply into my playtime. Eunie will be travelling to the USA and Canada during April, May, and half of June. I will be a temporary bachelor – not one my favourite things.

Never mind. I’m planning a trip to the highlands to climb Mt. Wilhelm.  I’ll be writing an article f or Our Way  magazine about an insane Englishman who is planning to jump off of the top (with a parachute, one would assume). I’ll also be going on a research trip to Rabaul to get as close to the volcano as I possibly can. I promise you some interesting shots. I’ll also be doing some diving there and grab more images.

At 65 life is beginning to get interesting.

About time!

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