Tagged: photo

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp (Pontonides ankeri)

This Shrimp is the Tiniest Sea Creature You’ve Never Seen

It’s easy for divers to get stoked on seeing the big-ticket critters. Manta rays? Majestic. Sharks? Spellbinding.

So far, we’re all on the same page here.

There’s this cognitive leap, though, that occurs for divers when they learn to find and appreciate the nudibranch. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but this leap happens around the same time as divers learn to slow down and control their air consumption. Tiny things become cool, dives get longer, and there’s of course the self-satisfaction that comes out of being able to find and recognize the more obscure creatures.

But it takes a special breed to go for the borderline microscopic stuff. It’s possible they’ve taken the obscure critter-finding obsession too far: if you can barely see the thing without a magnifying glass, and your dive buddies can’t see it at all, are you really in your right mind?

Probably not, but that doesn’t seem to stop me, now does it?

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Topaz-Detail-Underwater-Photography-Review

Topaz Detail for Underwater Photos: A Review

There are lots of Topaz Detail reviews floating around, but none (so far as I could find, anyway) specifically catering to underwater photos. Curious to find what it could do for my stuff, I dug up a handful of photos I had previously deemed “finished” and ran them through Detail. I was pleasantly surprised!

Read on for the full review! :)

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Remove-Backscatter-Pinterest

How to Remove Backscatter: The Fastest Way to Improve Your Underwater Photos

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking about technical diving and underwater photography to the Whalers Dive Club in Canoga Park, California. It was a great crowd, and the attendees were every speaker’s dream: they both laughed at my jokes and asked engaged, thoughtful questions!

One of the questions that stood out, and that I frankly do get asked all the time, is “Do you post-process your photos?” My immediate, emphatic admission of “YES!” drew laughs from the audience, but it wasn’t a joke; I firmly believe that post-processing, especially for underwater photography, is nothing to be avoided or ashamed of. My standard workflow typically includes color and contrast adjustments, sharpening, and–the bane of every underwater photographer’s existence–backscatter removal.

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Missile Tower artificial reef/wreck, San Diego

The Missile Tower Wreck (165′), San Diego

The Missile Tower in San Diego, formerly used by the U.S. Navy to test-launch Trident submarine missiles, now rests in 165 feet of water near the Mexican Border as an artificial reef.

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Mantis-Shrimp-Cover

Why the Mantis Shrimp Rocks

Although named for its resemblance to both praying mantis and shrimp, the mantis shrimp is neither; it’s a stomatopod, in fact only a distant relative of crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. Stomatopods can be loosely divided into two groups based on how they kill prey with their raptorial appendages (I just want to say that over and over again, it sounds so badass). But just wait: the badassery gets better.

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Ornate Ghost Pipefish

A Limerick about the Ornate Ghost Pipefish

There once was a pipefish so ornate,

the crinoid it lived in seemed cut-rate.

“This feather star’s plain,”

said the fish, “I’d not deign

“to inhabit so homely an estate.”

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Diving the Eureka Oil Rig

Getting Riggy on Eureka

The silence of my rebreather allows me to hear every hydraulic hiss, every crash as steel collides with steel, the sounds of industry happening above the surface. I catch myself wondering whether the fish are anchovy or sardine, realizing that I have been contemplating the question for several minutes, lazily resolving the taxonomical conundrum with the label: baitfish.

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Catalina Island, California: Red Octopus

When the Red Octopus Isn’t: Cephalopod Camouflage in Catalina

More camouflage today–this time from the cephalopods. Red octopus ran rampant at Catalina Island last weekend, scavenging on the discarded squid egg cases littering the seafloor. As they passed over kelp, seagrass, sand, rubble, and the egg cases in various shades of white and brown, their skin color and texture shifted to blend the animal into its surroundings.

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Blue Ribbon Eel

Everything you need to know about ribbon eels, and a little about gymnastics

Reminiscent of the ribbon event in rhythmic gymnastics, ribbon eels are a dramatic sight. Here are some interesting facts about ribbon eels and some photos of these beautiful, fascinating creatures.

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Elysia crispata sea slug

Wednesday Roundup: “Vegetarian” Vampire Squid, Solar Powered Nudibranchs, and a SEA TURTLE in San Diego!

Happy New Year! In case you need a break from the endless reruns of the Rose Parade, you’re killing time until the football game starts, or you’re just plain too hung over to do anything but mindlessly click links on the Web, I’m here for you.

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Spanish-Shawl-Nudibranch-text

Obligatory End-of-Year Post (A Summary of 2013)

Because (a) It’s pretty much in the rules of blogging to make an end-of-year summary post, and (b) 2013 was full of great diving and photo ops. From technical wrecks to nudibranchs: a photographic summary of my underwater exploits in 2013.

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Feather star (crinoid) in Anilao, Philippines

Creepy crinoids and the camouflaged critters that colonize them

What stalks across the seafloor and ripples around the reef?

What looks like a plant, but then GRABS you when you swim past?

What has no brain, an anus next to its mouth, and a bunch of sticky arms that reach out and attach to you?

What’s beautiful and terrifying all at once? The crinoid.

What’s underwater and creepier than a crinoid? NOTHING.

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UB-88 Submarine U-boat wreck

Diving the UB-88 Submarine Wreck

Part of the allure of technical wreck diving is getting the opportunity to experience bits of history that very few others, not even many other divers, get to experience. This is why when I received an invitation to go dive the UB-88, a German WWI U-boat off San Pedro, California, and the only U-boat wreck on the West Coast, I jumped at the chance.

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Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Pygmy seahorse

In Pursuit of Pygmy Seahorses

The scene is a hotel room in Anilao, Philippines. Our heroine is standing over a console table, assembling an underwater camera, when her husband enters the room with news from their dive guide.

HUSBAND: The boat is going looking for pygmy seahorses today. How big are they, anyway?

Our heroine looks up, instinctively making a gesture with her thumb and forefinger suggesting about an inch, but seems less certain as she begins to waffle bigger and smaller. The husband smirks at her indecision.

Cut to underwater. The dive guide signals for our heroine’s attention and begins to methodically pick through a purple gorgonian fan, despite the fact that it appears completely barren of life.

He points at a spot on the fan. She squints.

He points again, and a piece of the fan no larger than her pinky fingernail moves slightly. She squints. Recognition washes over her face as it registers that pygmy seahorses are much, much smaller than she had originally thought.

Photographing pygmy seahorses is going to take some work.

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Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Chromodoris magnifica nudibranch

How to Fall in Love with Nudibranchs in 12 Easy Steps

It is no secret that I love the nudibranch. But it may come as a surprise that not everyone shares my branchophile tendencies. Fortunately, I have devised a twelve-step program to convert even the most reluctant slug-lover lover into a nudi connoisseur.

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Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Frogfish

Frogfish are basically sponges with mouths

How to find a frogfish? Look for sponges. Look at all the sponges. If a sponge looks like it has a mouth, it might be a frogfish. If it doesn’t look like it has a mouth, it might still be a frogfish. Maybe poke it. If it moves, your chances that it is a frogfish just went up.

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Seahorse, Westpunt, Curaçao

The Recalcitrant Seahorse

Once upon a time, in a magical far away land called Curaçao, there was a seahorse.   And it was a jerk.   Every time I approached it with my camera, it would turn its back to me. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes, it even just got up and walked away. I hated that seahorse. And []

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Sun shining through the kelp canopy

Sunlight streaming through the Catalina kelp forest canopy

Just a quickie today. Visibility on our little island Santa Catalina is routinely much better than it is over here on the mainland, but I don’t usually see the Catalina kelp forest quite this good. This was taken off Two Harbors at Ship Rock.

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Divers in the wheelhouse

The Ruby E: One of San Diego’s Most Richly Historied Shipwrecks

The Ruby E, one of San Diego’s premiere wrecks for divers, has a rich and colorful history. Although initially commissioned to intercept Prohibition-Era alcohol shipments on behalf of the United States Coast Guard, she also assisted in Bering Sea patrols, thwarted Japanese task forces in the Aleutian Islands during WWII, and worked as a commercial fish processing boat in Central America. She now rests in 85′ of water outside of Mission Bay.

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Diver at La Reina, Sea of Cortez, Mexico

I saw things in the Sea of Cortez that were not nudibranchs

Despite troublesome conditions on our Sea of Cortez diving trip (on the liveaboard dive boat Nautilus Explorer), we did manage a few days where the visibility was good enough to leave the macro lens in the cabin and get underwater for some wide-angle action. In fact, the water was so clear and beautiful on our first []

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USS Hogan wreck

Diving the Hogan Wreck

USS Hogan was a Wickes-class destroyer commissioned in 1919. During WWII, she served as a minesweeper and coastal convoy ship. In November of 1945, she was used as a target ship for firing tests and sank. Located south of the Point Loma peninsula on the US-Mexican border, the Hogan wreck rests just far enough from the []

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Sarcastic Fringehead

Diving at La Jolla Shores is like Going to the Zoo…

… In that I always seem to end up seeing one of everything. Seriously, head down there with a creature checklist and cross it off, and then ascend when you’ve seen it all. WOW, what an amazing night dive at La Jolla Shores. We went in at 8pm and dropped into about 15 feet of []

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Melibe leonina nudibranch

Melibe leonina nudibranchs are weird and awesome

Nudibranchs never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I’ve had enough nudibranchs for, like, ever, a new one I’ve never seen before comes along and voilà, instant nudibranch love affair all over again. I’d seen the Melibe leonina nudibranch in photos but never in the flesh (in the slime?). Then we went for a shore []

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Nudibranch Gills

The Sea of Cortez is Riddled with Nudibranchs

Being the kiss of death that I am when it comes to dive trips and good conditions, I shouldn’t have been surprised when we arrived in the Sea of Cortez to find cold, green, murky, Socal-esque water. For months prior to the trip, I entertained fantasies of seeing whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, orcas, manta rays, []

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moose alley nh-14

Moose are Masters of Disguise

Moose Alley in Pittsburg, NH Moose are big. Really big. Like, 1000 pounds big. As a kid, I had a dog. He was a yellow Labrador. His name was Chewy. He was pretty big. Not moose big, but definitely Labrador big. He didn’t really know his own size, though, and certainly didn’t see any reason []

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Source: Navsource.org

Diving the Palawan Wreck

Palawan, formerly a Liberty Ship, is an artificial reef off Huntington Beach, California.   What is a Liberty Ship? Liberty Ships were WWII-era cargo carriers designed to be built cheaply and quickly, and were mass-produced by the thousands in the later years of the war. These steel-hulled ships were 441 feet long and 56 feet []

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