August 28th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

A few days ago I went for a dive on the Fusheng, a natural wreck that is at about 30m depth off the Dutch side of the island. Since I’d already been there with the fisheye, I decided to try a macro lens this time. I didn’t get any amazing photos, but I did find a whole bunch of yellowhead jawfish off to the side of the wreck, dozens or maybe hundreds floating above their burrows.

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June 4th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Below are a few photos taken while Extreme Shallow Snorkeling with my old Powershot SD1000. Photography while snorkeling is much harder than while diving, because it is much harder to remain still, and you don’t have too long to compose your shot. These factors are compounded by the challenge of using a point and shoot camera, which can be quite unforgiving. Still, it’s a fun challenge to see what shots you can get.

Today I saw a pipefish for the first time since I’ve been here. It was in about 18 inches of water just off the shore in some algae. Add this to the batfish and the sea robin and I’m starting to accumulate quite a list of interesting fish that I’ve seen while snorkeling but not while diving. It just goes to show that snorkeling and diving are complementary activities, especially if your snorkeling in shallow water, which is usually a very different habitat versus a diving-depth reef.

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May 13th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Here’s another set of photos from the pier in Grand Case, taken while snorkeling with the 60mm macro lens. Taken between 4pm and 5pm or thereabouts, there were plenty of decorator crabs on the pier and lots of blennies. After experimenting with both the 85mm and 60mm macro lenses, I think the 60mm is probably a little easier to use when snorkeling: the focus seems a bit faster and the distance to subject is also reduced, which makes it easier to use smaller apertures for greater depth of field. On scuba it’s easier to remain stationary, so the 85mm can be advantageous for taking photos of skittish blennies without having to get as close.

I also discovered a technique to minimize movement when taking photos while snorkeling: dive down head first and then fin gently to remain stationary while taking photos upside-down. When doing this, adjust the strobes so they are firing down slightly when the camera is upside-down to achieve more natural lighting. If there is a current, try to position yourself so the current isn’t pushing you into the surface you are photographing, because in this head-down position it is easy to move up and down, but harder to move forward, backward, left or right.

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April 23rd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Below are some macro photos from a recent dive at a new site near Marigot that we’re calling Little Canyons. It’s a shallow site that features a row of little rock canyons covered in corals and sponges. I got a bunch of photos of blennies, and a triton’s trumpet eating a sea star. I also spent quite a bit of time trying to photo the little crabs that hide in anemones, with mixed results. All things considered, it’s a great new site with lots of life and, because it’s shallow, great colors underwater.

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April 17th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

We took our first night dive in a long while out at Turtle Reef, and it was quite lovely. For starters, I got my wish when we saw a spanish lobster Scyllarides aequinoctialis just after descending. We also encountered velvet shrimp jumping around on the sand and a cute decorator crab covered in bits of sponge. Corals were feeding and tube-dwelling anemones had emerged from the sand for the night. Seeing the web burrfish was also a special treat. We also saw a couple turtles trying to get some sleep and a few moray eels on the prowl.

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March 20th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Jenn and I hopped on the boat to Creole Rock and Roche Marcel to do some super slow diving. At Creole Rock, we did a 65-minute dive where we only went about 100 meters away from the boat and had a maximum depth of 6 meters. For photography, this is probably the ideal type of dive, especially with the 85mm macro lens. As we crept along the sea grass, sandy areas and shallow reef, we found loads of interesting fish, crustaceans and other creatures.

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Next, we headed around Bell Point to Roche Marcel where we did a shorter dive at a slightly quicker pace and more tiny creatures. Thanks to Stuart’s directions, we also found the almost-cave that is a large hole in the rock covered with colorful encrusting sponges.

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March 17th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

A couple months ago, I put some pretty serious scratches in my Ikelite dome, which clearly showed up in any wide-angle or fisheye photos I took with the dome. Rather than get a new dome, I got a Micro Mesh kit for acrylic restoration. It was about $40, or about a tenth the cost of a new dome.

Essentially it’s a bunch of very fine sandpaper that you use progressively. First, you use regular sandpaper to sand out the scratches, if they’re big enough to warrant that, and mine were. Next, you use the micro mesh sandpapers, which go from 1200 to 12000 grit. At each step, you sand in one direction, ninety degrees from the last step, making sure to eliminate any traces of the previous sanding. After finishing with all the sandpaper, you buff it with a special paste.

Does it work? Yes. As you can see from the photos, things start off looking bad, but quickly get better, until the dome is totally smooth again. The toughest part is the edge of the dome, where it is hard to always remove the previous sanding. In my case, I ended up with a few small sanding scratches at the edge of the dome, but they don’t show up underwater because water is essentially the same density as acrylic, so it fills in minor scratches.

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