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Archive for May, 2015

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/320 sec

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/320 sec

The Cayman Islands is a well-known must go destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. During my two-week stay on the island of Cayman Brac, which is the most easterly of the three islands known as the Cayman Islands, I explored the world beneath the sea for several hours daily. I do not scuba dive, but do love snorkeling and often I am most interested in the aquatic wildlife that can easily, or not so easily discovered in the shallows. I will define the shallows as water to a depth of about 20 feet. Either way I find entering the ocean an exhilarating experience because there are fishes that can eat you 🙂 Essentially you are entering the food-chain, and even though such risks are minimal you should be aware of what fishes may be encountered.It is not only those fishes with large toothy mouths that you need to be concerned with, but often the smaller species of fish that can inflict painful stings if one is not careful. My choice of camera for my underwater photography to date has been the Sony RX-100. This amazing point and shoot camera is teeny-tiny and will easily fit into a shirt or pants pocket, as a zoom range of 28mm to 100mm (35mm equivalent), is capable of capturing image files in RAW and produces a 20MB file which translates to a native image size of 12.16  18.24 inches. Impressive! Note: I found RAW capture to be most beneficial as I was able to make adjustments to the White Balance in Adobe Camera RAW to realistically match the scenes as I saw them. Often the Auto White Balance setting on the Sony RX-100 produced image files with a strong green cast, which was easily correctable in ACR. My choice of underwater housing for the Sony RX-100 was a polycarbonate housing from Meikon, This housing is rated for a depth of 40M (131 feet) and allows me to operate all of the essential controls underwater. I initially purchased this housing as I began my interest in the underwater world. I would however, highly recommend getting one of the housing available from IkeLite. The housing from Meikon works great for snorkeling, but I am not sure I would dive to deeper depths with it. One of the biggest problems I encountered using a polycarbonate housing with the Sony RX-100 was viewing the LCD screen underwater due to the reflective properties of the polycarbonate material underwater. The Sony RX-100 has no viewfinder, so images are composed using the LCD screen. In the photo below an easy solution to this concern can be overcome by creating a bracket to hold a small section of plastic downspout over the area of the LCD screen to act as a shade.

Underwater Housing with Plastic Downspout to Shade the LCD Screen

Underwater Housing with Plastic Downspout to Shade the LCD Screen

To create many of the underwater images ISO 200 or ISO 400 was selected and the Aperture Priority mode too. Creating underwater images while snorkeling is a bit of a challenge to our buoyancy, however, for fishes that were resting on the ocean floor I found it easier if I exhaled while diving to the bottom, and with less air in my lungs I was able to stay at the bottom long enough for 2 or 3 images before the need to re-surface again. For some subjects I repeated this process numerous times to create various compositions, such as the photos below of the Stonefish – a true master of camouflage! Note: the spines on the dorsal fins of Stonefish, a member of the Scorpionfish family, can inflict a painful sting – exercise caution!

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

As you read the captions for the images in this post you will note that many of them were created at a focal length of 28mm. Often in underwater photography a wide-angle lens used in close will produce the best image. By reducing the distance between the camera and the subject the risk of particulate matter in the water column is reduced, producing a cleaner, sharper image. The Sony RX-100 will focus as close as 5cm at the 28mm setting. On rare occasions I would zoom the lens out if there was some interesting action occurring in deeper water that I would not have been able to dive down to capture.

Sand Diver Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Sand Diver
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Often repeated attempts to photograph some species was required, as was the case with the Sand Diver above. This specimen was roughly 2 feet in length and very skittish. After many repeat dives I was able to get this one close up that allows us to see its very toothy mouth. Below is a selection of Stingray images that were created at various reefs along the coast. Scott’s Dock and Radar Reef produced the best photographic opportunities for them.

Stingray Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Stingray
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Stingray Interaction Sony RX-100 @ 65mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray Interaction
Sony RX-100 @ 65mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Below is an image of a Sharp-tailed Eel. I was thrilled to see this specimen out in the open. In 2014 I had seen one of these very interesting snake-like fishes but it was in too difficult of a location to photograph. Fast-forward to March 2015 and I was presented a second opportunity whereby the specimen was most cooperative. This was photographed at the Buccaneer (Tibbett’s) dive site.

Sharp-tailed Eel Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Sharp-tailed Eel
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Other species that I was able to photograph along the coast of Cayman Brac were Caribbean Reef Squid, Octopus, Barracuda, and some underwater ocean-scapes. Below are my favorites of these. If you ever make your way to Cayman Brac be sure to snorkel the Scott’s Dock, Radar Reef, and the Buccaneer dive sites as these are equally productive for folks that prefer to snorkel.

Caribbean Reef Squid Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

Caribbean Reef Squid
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Barracuda Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Barracuda
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Ocean-Scape in B&W Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Ocean-Scape in B&W
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Coral Details Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8@ 1/100 sec.

Coral Details
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8@ 1/100 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

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The Los Vikingos Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye lens ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec

The Los Vikingos
Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye lens
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec

During my two week stay on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac I was able to witness the arrival of a Cuban migrant vessel. The boat was carrying 37 people and had departed from Manzanillo seven days prior to landing on Cayman Brac. They were on route to Honduras, where they would then make there way up to the United States. Shortly after they had departed from Manzanillo their engine stopped working and they relied on their sail to carry them. Once they were brought ashore on Cayman Brac they were fed and clothed, but their vessel was determined to be not seaworthy. They were repatriated and reportedly happy with the decision.

As I looked closely at the vessel that had been brought ashore I was most impressed with their ingenuity and determination in their quest to build an ocean going vessel, in search of a new life. In the image below note that several truck inner tubes are fastened to tree trunks for added floatation / stabilization in rough seas.

The Los Vikingos Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens ISO 200, f11 @ 1/200 sec

The Los Vikingos
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/200 sec

The Los Vikingos Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens ISO 200, f11 @ 1/320 sec.

The Los Vikingos
Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/320 sec.

Inside THe Los Vikingos Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm @ 28mm ISO 200, f11 @ 1/30 sec.

Inside The Los Vikingos
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm @ 28mm
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/30 sec.

Interior of The Los Vikingos Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm @ 18mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/80 sec.

Interior of The Los Vikingos
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm @ 18mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/80 sec.

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