Catalina Trip: August, 1998

The offshore waters had nicer temperatures and visibility that ranged from 40-80 feet. This did wonders for my camera, and it didn't help that I am starting to get the hang of things. The one oddity is that the macro that I labeled a no brainer mode in Monterey actually gave me fits in the Channel Islands. Wide open shots on the other hand were great, and i have 3 or 4 different excellent garibaldi shots.

Macro pains: this picture of purple hydrocoral is an example.

1) getting the framer to aim properly. I lent it out the first day and my friend promptly bent it up like an air diver at 150. The metal is very soft and by pressing to hard on a hard reef can bend it off line, as can rough handling at any point along the way. I think you want to have the left arm go directly out from the camera, but not sure yet. In this image I cropped the left side out that had the framer - lost film space.
2) The attachment itself allows for some motion, perhaps 15 degrees. It just doesn't lock to a single point. As mentioned in #1, I think that the left should be straight.

Other things to note in the hydrocoral is that with three dimensional objects, parts are in focus and the rest is not. This lens has a very narrow range in which it is in focus. My attempts to take pictures of this decent sized octopus (perhaps 18-24" spread apart) with macro were a qualified failure. They unfortunately make a very difficult target. My attempts with the normal WC lens and the strobe left me with a few pictures where you could see the octopus if you knew it was there.
The one subject I wanted to focus on during this trip was the moray eel. Not surprisingly, my best chance came when I was outfitted in macro mode. I immediately started stripping down the camera, hoping to use just the WC lens and the camera flash. Unfortunately, as you may know, there is a shorter screw for the configuration. Undaunted, I used my finger to hold the lens in place and took a few shots. As expected, backscatter increased, but the backdrop of the sea urchins gives it some scale. I then reassembled the macro and tried taking pictures without the framer - none of them look very good. Then I put the framer back on and to my surprised, the eel came right into the middle. He would then start heading for the frame, at which point I would retreat. I don't know their behavior well enough to know if it was pissed off, or just looking for some food from me.
[Moray with the WC Lens]
[Moray at 8"!]

In this last macro image, I forgot to turn on the flash. There were a couple other times when I snapped too quickly for the flash to recycle, but this one I liked best as an artistic image .

Wide Angle images: Now let's get back to the good stuff. I'll probably add a few more from this trip here in the next week - I'm still working on my photoshop skills and will also look into using gimp.
Brittle Stars were far and away the dominant lifeform at this dive site off Anacapa. The promise of giant sea bass was the attraction, but unfortunately it was just acres and acres of these critters, along with the occasional other lifeform.

Photographing objects in the cracks can be a common problem for those of us diving in California. You have to remember that the light source is up and to the left of the lens. Forget this and you may have a nice shot of the rock to the left of the crack, and nothing inside. Rotate your camera-strobe axis so it is parallel to the crack. Unless of course you intend it, as seen with this spiny lobster .

This last image of a horn shark is a better illustration. I'm very pleased with this image because it was 1) the first shark I've seen within California and 2) I personally only saw the tail fin of the little guy. To get this picture, I rotated the camera 110 degrees to the left and got it as far into the crack as I could while keeping the 2 foot distance as best possible. Amazingly it worked. (Of course, 4 minutes later I find other divers who had caught another one, but I was out of film. At least I got to see it, however).

The garibaldi shot at the top was typical of that dive at Ship Rock. I will need to redo that one - it shouldn't look so grainy. Call it scanner error. The interesting thing about those shots is that the oversized gold fish look fake, as though they were superimposed on top of the kelp image. I'm sure it has to do with it getting lots of the strobe, and everything else just being based on ambient light (the strobe only penetrates 6 feet or so). Keep that in mind.

People Shots
Because of aiming problems, these are still tricky. I generally am off center and/or miss parts of the body (I came ever so close to an excellent image of Dave a few feet behind a garibaldi, but alas the image loses the upper half of his head). I think it's something that you just have to keep working at - I now have a couple reasonably good shots of Julie after a dozen plus tries. As for everyone else, it's getting there - these are at least tourist shots for your non diving relatives.
[Lee and John] -- [Vickie] -- [Julie]