Blurry Fish and Barrel Sponges

Posted in Under the Sea on February 6th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

Sometime I like amuse myself by going back through my accumulation of thousands of underwater images to find the ones which I first rejected as real.  Usually this rejection has to do with some technical fault such as bad focus (usually an image-killer), impossibly filthy water (sometimes fixable by laboriously removing the spots) or motion blur. Of the faults, motion blur is the easiest to turn into art. It sometimes generates a very interesting image. Here is a Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)  which I tried to capture with a shap shot at Magic Passage:

The attempt, as you can see, failed miserably. Both the fish and the background are blurred. Nevertheless, a tiny, nagging tickle in the back of my skull kept mumbling, “Play with it, idiot.” I always pay attention to these messages from my id. As you can see, with a little work, the wasted pixels redeem themselves. A mistake becomes art. I don’t know if I’d want to hang it on the wall, but it provided me with a few minutes of not  thinking about computer networks. That’s a blessing.

Here is another one that I saved from the bit dumpster. The Silver Sweetlips (Diagramma pictum),  one of my favourites, hangs out in mobs at Magic Passage. You can find many more images of them here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi by putting “pictum” in the search box. Is is a very beautiful fish:You can see in the shot above that the background is relatively unblurred (relatively, as I say) but the fish was moving quite smartly. This transforms the beautiful yellow spots of the sub-adult into concentric yellow arcs which give the image the impression of some kind of weird, mustardy fingerprint. Fingerprint? Okay, let me reboot . . . nope, still reminds me of a fingerprint. What can I say?

At any rate, a strange piece of chintzy art is better than wasted pixels. I might actually hang this one. No, wait. I’m far too lazy.

Here’s a shot of the Silver Sweetlips sub-adults hanging in the current. These are very chilled-out fish:

They gang up like sulky teenagers on the corner by the liquor store, waiting for some sucker to buy them a bottle. I’m sure that if there were an equivalent of Mary Jane for fish, this mob would be toking up.

I did mention something about Barrel Sponges.

Here are two Barrel Sponges (Xestospongia testudinaria)  at Magic Passage, right in the area of the highest currents:
When Barrel Sponges get really big, they are very heavy and present a huge surface area upon which a strong current can push. It’s not surprising that they occasionally get knocked over. Here you can see one that is hanging on and one that has been toppled. Not to worry, the severely tilded sponge can continue to grow. When knocked down like this, the sponge continues to try to grow up towards the light, so some of the ones which have been over on their side for a long time have very peculiar shapes.

I’ll wrap up with this anemone with one little anemonefish guarding it:
I have one hour left to load the boat and get to the pick-up point for our regular Saturday dive. I’m outta here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

More Underwater Critters

Posted in Under the Sea on January 27th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

Well, the charter to Bag Bag Island  is off. There have been several small craft lost at sea in Astrolabe Bay  over the last few days. There’s a fierce nor’easter blowing and the chop is reported to be up to three metres. I’m poor and wild, but I’m not completely insane. The money was good, but the risk too great. As soon as I told my good friend Trevor Hattersley about the charter he called me back several times to talk me out of it. That is what good mates do. Thanks, Trev.

So, I find myself presently incomeless, but safe and dry.

Therefore, let me attempt to entertain you for a few minutes with some miscellaneous pretty pictures and some verbal rambling. This Coral (Lobophyllia hemprichii)  is not the stuff of of raw excitement, but it’s interesting to speculate how something that looks like this is actually alive:I’m reminded of the old Star Trek  episode in which the rocks were sentient, albeit slow movers.

After a few thousand dives and more time underwater than most people spend at church in a lifetime, you get to the point at which you can make educated guesses. Here’s a shot of a motion-blurred Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus orientalis)  and terror-frozen Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides):I knew how this shot would play out. The Many-Spotted Sweetlips will freeze for a while when it spots you. It will try to hide by pretending not to be there. “Look at me. HAH! Can’t see me, can you?” Then, as it slowly sinks in that it’s being observed, it will begin to swim away, usually without too much fuss. The Oriental Sweetlips, however, is easily panicked and makes haste to use the nearest escape route. I could see around a corner that the two fish were slowly finning in the sluggish current side-by-side. As soon as I popped my head up over the top of the coral bomie, the spotted fish froze for a moment and the Oriental Sweetlips headed for the door – thus the blurry fish image.

You’ve seen these fat slugs before. It may not sound politically correct to call them that, but that’s exactly what they are, so it’s okay:It’s a Sea Cucumber (Thelenota ananas),  a particularly pink one. They are usually more brownish. Possibly it has a fever.

Sometimes I need to show you a really bad image just so that you can see that underwater photography is a crap shoot. This is a Blacktip Shrimpgoby (Cryptocentrus polyophthalmus),  a fish which I seldom see:I knew the shot would be awful, because the fish was back in a hole and I couldn’t get close. Nevertheless, it’s the only image that I have of this species. I’m not bursting with pride.

This, however, is a nice little reef scene with a couple of male Purple Anthea (Pseudanthias tuka):When I saw these two, they were engaged in a little ritualised sparring. I snapped the shot as they were returning to their corners for a time-out. That’s why they are swimming away from each other.

Here is a perfectly beautiful image of a nudibranch that I still  can’t identify:I’m going to have to invest some money in a better nudi book.

You’ve seen these Divaricate Tree Coral (Dendronephthya roxasia)  here several times. I’ve mistakenly called them Diverticulate Tree Corals elsewhere. Gonna have to fix that:The one above is particularly nice. Good, symmetrical shape, rich colour; I like it.

Enough of the fishy stuff. Let me show you two UFOs that I caught on camera the other day. Actually there may be three, a big green one with an orange one riding on its back and a purple one up higher:

I yelled at them, but nobody came down to visit. If there were aliens aboard, they must be a snooty lot.

Of course, all that is wishful thinking. The coloured blobs are obviously lens flares caused by internal reflections within the optics of the bright orb of the sun.

Someday I’ll show you my real  UFO shots. They’ll blow you away!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More Underwater Canon G10 Shots from the Eel Garden

Posted in Under the Sea on July 5th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I’ve had time to work up some more Canon G10 images from the dive on Saturday at the Eel Garden near Pig Island.  I’m still a little disbelieving at what’s coming out of this relatively cheap camera. It makes me wonder what we’ll be able to do in another five years. 3D?? Who knows?

Here is absolutely the anatomically best shot that I’ve ever gotten of a Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus):

Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)

What I usually get is a pretty reddish-orange blob with some detail. Sometimes you can actually see the spine on the the cheek. With the G10 I’m getting scales  on the side of the fish! If you click to enlarge, you’ll see a lot more detail than I’ve been able to show you before.

Here is a difficult to photograph nudibranch. They are very small (this one as long as your pinky finger). Depth of field is always a problem:

Nudibranch

I’ve not been able to capture the delicate nuances of shading around the white bumps before. In this shot you can tell that they are white protrusions, not just faded spots.

Here’s another difficult fish to photograph because of the same problem that we have with Clark’s Anemonefish – the huge dynamic range of contrast between the soot-black bars and the snow white patches. It’s a Moorish Idol (Zanclus comutus):

Moorish Idol (Zanclus comutus)

In this shot, I was able to get some detail in both areas; a first for me. I give the credit to the camera’s dynamic range. I’m not doing anything new or different.

Here is a Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) lurking under the catamaran wreck:

Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

Like the other subjects here, this is a difficult one to shoot. It likes to hide. If it can’t, it swims away. This shot is nowhere near perfect, but it’s the best of this fish that I have managed to get so far.

To finish up today, here is probably one of the most photographed fish on the planet. Everybody and his brother wants to take home a picture that “I took” of a lionfish. This is the Common Lionfish (looks particularly uncommon to me, but . . . ) whose taxonomic name is (Pterois volitans):

Common Lionfish - sub adult (Pterois volitans)

For a fish that poses so nicely, it is still difficult to get a good shot. Again, the contrast ratio is through the roof. I did have to work a little to get the dark bands up from the depths. This shot was saved by Photoshop.  Nevertheless, I give the G10 credit for giving me a few bits to work with from the bottom of the well.

You’re going to get a lot more underwater photos in the future. I hope you have a taste for fish.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,