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Archive for the ‘Underwater Photography’ Category

Ewa Marine U-B100 Underwater Housing

During previous trips to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, in the Cayman Islands I used a Sony RX100 in a dedicated underwater housing with very good success. On my most recent trip I decided that it was time to take my Nikon D800 & Nikon D500 into the ocean, however, I could not really justify the expense of a dedicated housing for these cameras at this point in time. Since I would only be using the cameras while snorkeling, I was planning to rely solely on ambient light for underwater photography. After a bit of research I decided that an Ewa Marine underwater housing would be my choice of housing for the recently concluded trip to Cayman Brac. I purchased the Ewa Marine U-B100 housing which is designed for use with professional cameras and for lenses with a filter diameter of 77mm or 82mm. The housing comes with the 77mm adapter (the 82mm adpater is optional) that allows you to firmly position the lens inside the lens port and flush against the optical glass element. The Ewa Marine housing is made from special, multi-layered, laminated PVC to ensure safety and durability and all seams are double welded. Two rails are fastened together by means of three thumb screws to securely close the opening to the housing. There is a sepcailly designed pocket molded into the design for your finger to reach the shutter release button on the camera. All other functions are accessed through the thick laminated PVC – a difficult but not impossible task.

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 32mm (48mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/125 sec

On my first snorkel trip with the Ewa Marine housing I quickly discovered that I had left too much air in the housing and was subsequently very hard to dive down with the housing. I opened the housing and using a straw sucked out as much air as I could and then re-sealed the housing, which worked perfectly.Ewa Marine does sell an optional lead weight that goes inside this housing and after using the housing for a couple of weeks I believe that the weight would be an added benefit to using this housing.

Southern Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 23mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1250 sec

As I researched this particular housing via blogs and You Tube videos there was a common theme. One was that the lens adapter was very difficult to fit against the optical glass port and the other being virtually impossible to operate camera controls and zoom lenses. I had no difficulty whatsoever fitting the lens into the lens port and while camera functions are more difficult to adjust I was able to make exposure adjustments and zoom the lens as required while underwater.

Peacock Flounder, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 32mm (48mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

I used both my Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 cameras with no issues at all. My lens of choice for use in the housing was the Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm lens which did vignette slightly, at 18mm, on the Nikon D800. When the lens was zoomed to about 20mm the vignetting disappeared. I chose to use the 18-35mm lens as it focuses down to 12 inches throughout it’s focal range. In underwater photography the closer you can get to your subjects the better the image quality will be. You must minimize the amount of water between you and your subject for better clarity.

Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/160 sec

I am looking forward to using the housing on Horseshoe Lake this summer where I will use it for frog photography and freshwater fish imagery too. If you are curious about trying your hand at underwater photography I would highly recommend an Ewa Marine housing to get you started. I purchased my Ewa Marine U-B100 housing from B&H Photo. Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Ewa Marine or B&H Photo. I simply wanted to provide you with an honest, real-world review after my experience with this housing.

I am often amazed by the ability of ocean fish to superbly camouflage themselves. This is especially evident in the highly venomous Spotted Stonefish, a member of the scorpionfish family. Fortunately Stonefish only use their venom as a means of self-defence, however, accidentally stepping on one does mean a trip to the nearest hospital!

Please do remember to click on each photo to see the larger, sharper version. Which one is your favorite?

Barracuda, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 28mm
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/320 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

 

Southern Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm (51mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/320 sec

 

Octopus Inking, Cayman Brac
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 24mm
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/400 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/400 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 24mm ( 36mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/160 sec

 

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Silver Thatch Palm at Sunset, Cayman Brac, Cayman Island, BWI
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 200
f11 @ 1/50

 

I have been hard at work editing the many thousands of images created during my two week trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac within Cayman Islands. Each morning I awoke at 5:30 a.m. to be on location roughly one hour prior to sunrise. One of the key elements to successful landscape imagery is to arrive for work on time! For me that means being on site long before sunrise and staying well past sunset. Often I find my favorite photos are created in the brief window of opportunity prior to sunrise or they are created after the sun has dipped below the horizon. The opening photo for this blog post, the Cayman Islands national tree, is the Silver Thatch Palm Trees was created one evening while I was up on the bluff photographing Brown Booby birds in soft light and decided to take advantage of my Nikkor 200-55mm lens to isolate these trees against the beautiful glowing sky.

 

Below are some early morning scenes from Pollard Bay on the island’s south east side. Here the Caribbean Sea rolls into the rugged iron shore that surrounds much of island. This area is by far my favorite sunrise location on the island and when the seas get rough tide pools are created on the rugged shoreline rock creating lots of foreground interest. For each of the Pollard Bay images I used my never-leave-home-without-it Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. And furthermore, since each image was created in pre-dawn light I was able to use long shutter speeds to smooth out the ocean waves so that they would not become a distracting element within each scene.

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 15 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 8 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 15 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 5 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

On the morning of February 26th when I headed out there was a persistent drizzle in the air, but that did not deter me from making the 20 minute drive up to the bluff to photograph an inclement weather sunrise looking out across the Caribbean Sea – I was certain there would be a little bit of color peaking through as the sun rose.

 

Sunrise From The Bluff, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 2 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Sunrise on Caribbean Sea, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1.3 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

On February 28th I was in the mood for a sandy beach sunrise, which brought me to the public beach area which has several large rocks scattered about that make for nice foreground elements. Again in pre-dawn light a long shutter speed allowed for the blurring of the incoming waves which were starting to get much larger as the winds were getting much stronger at this point in the trip.

 

Public Beach, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 50
f16 @ 4 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

One part of this recently concluded trip that I was looking most forward to was the underwater photography I had planned to do with both the Nikon D800 and Nikon D500. I purchased an Ewa Marine Housing for this part of the trip but that will be reviewed here on the blog shortly. I did, however, take a few underwater sea-scapes with that set-up of which two of my favorites can be seen below. I only wish a shark could have been swimming through these sea-scape scenes 🙂

 

Sea-Scape, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

 

Sea-Scape, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/320 sec

 

Please do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.

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Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second
Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

I returned from my 14 day stay on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac late on March 19th. Since my return I have been busy getting caught up on various things and processing a few of my initial favorites, from the vast number of images created during the trip. Today’s post will highlight my most favorite photos from the trip and in subsequent posts I will get into the nitty-gritty of what worked, what didn’t work, and the techniques used to create the images.

During my trip there were many lovely sunrises, a few nice sunsets, lots of Brown Booby chicks, reptiles, amphibians, and it seemed like with each day of snorkeling, which was everyday, I found something really cool to photograph in the ocean too 🙂

Here are a few images from this recent trip to Cayman Brac.

Please do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper version. Hope ya like ’em 🙂

Male Brown Booby with Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/320 sec.

Male Brown Booby with Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/320 sec.

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec. Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm
ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec.
Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 195mm ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60sec Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 195mm
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60sec
Canon 500D Close-up Filter

The Bat Cave Nikon D800, Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fisheye Lens ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

The Bat Cave
Nikon D800, Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fisheye Lens
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

Octopus Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivlent) ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec

Octopus
Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivlent)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec

Rock Iguana Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 390mm ISO 100, f8 @ 1/800 sec

Rock Iguana
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 390mm
ISO 100, f8 @ 1/800 sec

Stonefish Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivalent) ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivalent)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

 

 

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Sunrise on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Sunrise on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

 

At this time of year I usually take a moment to repost some of my favorite images that I captured throughout the past twelve months. I did not do as much traveling about as I had hoped to due to various reasons, but I did mange to find the time to travel to the beautiful Caribbean island of Cayman Brac (a return trip is planned for March 2015) for some memorable imagery and discover the awesome Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail in Parry Sound, Ontario. Here is a selection of my 14 favorite photos from 2014. Hope you enjoy them and please remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.

I would also like to thank each of my subscribers for their continued support here and wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Barn Owl in Cave on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Octopus on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Octopus on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Snowy Owl in Blizzard Conditions, Thornton, Ontario

Snowy Owl in Blizzard Conditions, Thornton, Ontario

Green Frog Chorusing in Pond at Night, Thornton, Ontario

Green Frog Chorusing in Pond at Night, Thornton, Ontario

Fisheye Lens View of Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

Fisheye Lens View of Hatchery Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

Soldier Crab on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Soldier Crab on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Skeleton River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

Skeleton River in Winter, Muskoka, Ontario

Cuban Tree Frog at Night on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Cuban Tree Frog at Night on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Conch Shell Sunrise on the Caribbean Sea, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Conch Shell Sunrise on the Caribbean Sea, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Sunrise at Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Sunrise at Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Skeleton River in Black & White, Muskoka, Ontario

Skeleton River in Black & White, Muskoka, Ontario

Sunset on the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail, Parry Sound, Ontario

Sunset on the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail, Parry Sound, Ontario

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California Horned Shark

California Horned Shark

Over the last couple of weeks I have been very busy and just completed presentations for three camera clubs; GRIPS, Trillium Photographic Club and Orillia District Camera Club. I had a ton of fun presenting for these clubs and met lots of great folks at each of the presentations as well.

On this past Friday (November 14th) I decided to take a day off and visit Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, Ontario. I have long been fascinated with the creature of the oceans and the Ripley Aquarium is a fantastic place to get a close-up view of some the strange fishes that inhabit the world’s oceans. I took along my Nikon D800 and my compact Sony RX100. Since the Sony RX100 will focus down to 5cm it easily became my preferred camera for creating photos of the fishes through the aquarium glass. Here is a collection of my favorite images created on this visit to the aquarium.

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

Stonefish

Stonefish

Lionfish

Lionfish

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Wobbegone Shark

Wobbegone Shark

Alaskan King Crab

Alaskan King Crab

Swell Shark

Swell Shark

 

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Aerial View of Reef System in the Cayman Islands

Aerial View of Reef System in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands is most noted for its amazing snorkeling and scuba diving and when I was making arrangements for my recent trip to Cayman Brac I made certain that I would be prepared to photograph life in the deep blue sea. The above photo was created on my departure as I began the long journey home. I created this image through the window pane of a Twin Otter aircraft using my Sony RX100. This amazing, yet tiny camera that will fit in a shirt pocket was my go-to piece of photo gear for my underwater adventure. The camera captures a 20 mega-byte image file when set to its RAW image capture mode. To find out more about how I used the camera underwater and for a few tips on underwater photography please read my recent article Into The Deep Blue Sea in the Creative Photography eMini-Magazine, a completely free and very informative on-line magazine and resource published by Denise Ippolito.

In the seascape image below I have encountered a little backscatter within the water column. Backscatter is the result of debris in the water and since I was photographing facing the sun, the effect of the debris was exaggerated but I do love the sun’s rays of light penetrating the surface. I do wish that a shark could have been swimming out of the depths for this image though 🙂

Cayman Brac Seascape, Cayman Islands

Cayman Brac Seascape, Cayman Islands

On one particular afternoon I came across a couple of local fishermen that were cleaning their catch and throwing the blood and guts back into the ocean, which attracted a great number of Stingrays. I grabbed my camera and immediately jumped into the water with the rays to create numerous images of them.

Stingray on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Stingray on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Stingray at Rest, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Stingray at Rest, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Fishes that are found within the oceans have always amazed me with their superb camouflage skills and during my numerous snorkeling trips I came across a few Peacock Flounders. Check out the image below to see how well they blend into their surroundings.

Peacock Flounder on the Ocean Floor, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Peacock Flounder on the Ocean Floor, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

One of the most commonly encountered fishes were Parrotfish. Their colors were so intense, often resembling colors you would expect to see in neon signs.

Queen Parrotfish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Queen Parrotfish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Yellow-tailed Parrotfish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Yellow-tailed Parrotfish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I found some of the corals and sponges to me most fascinating too, especially the tube sponges that were most often encountered in deeper water of about 30-40 feet. Upon taking a breath I would dive down to create images of them. I found this to be most difficult to do as I would be fighting the body’s natural tendency to float back up to the surface. Often it would take several attempts to create the image I was seeking.

Tube Sponge, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Tube Sponge, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I was quite pleased with the Sony RX100’s performance below the sea in a dedicated housing and am looking forward to diving into Horseshoe Lake to experiment with some freshwater imagery.

Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I returned home from the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac is a small island, which is 12 miles long and averages 1.5 miles wide with a population of approximately 1200 very friendly people and fabulous Conch Chowder. Leaving the island to head back to the snow and cold was hard to do. Throughout my 12 day stay on the island I experienced numerous very special photographic opportunities on land and in the deep blue sea. One such opportunity took place when I reach forward, grabbing a rock to steady myself in a strong current when the rock moved and out shot a small Octopus. I was delighted that the Octopus only swam about 5 feet away before coming to rest on the sea floor in about 6 feet of water. I was using my Sony RX100 in an underwater housing with ambient light, so this shallow water setting was perfect for retaining color within the scene (more on this in a future post). I snorkeled around the octopus for about half an hour creating numerous compositions before it slowly moved to a less photogenic location. The Sony RX100 is a powerful point and shoot camera for underwater photographic applications and I shot with it in the RAW mode (which creates a 20Mb file) the entire time so that I would have full control while optimizing the images upon my return home.

In the coming weeks I will share many more images from this trip and my rookie adventures into the wonderful world of underwater photography.

Please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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