Tagged: san diego

Painted greenling fish and Hermissenda crassicornis nudibranch.

Photo of the Week: Painted Greenling (and a Bonus Hermissenda Nudibranch)

Those who have been following this blog for any length of time will recall that finding tiny surprise creatures in a photo is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

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Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

This Spanish Shawl is the Goldilocks of Nudibranchs

In unpredictable surge and weird currents, it’s a challenge and a half to get a Spanish Shawl photo “just right.”

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San Diego, California: Stern of the El Rey Wreck

Diving The Kelp Cutter: The El Rey Wreck

Every once in a while, we get off the beaten path a bit and dive some of the less-often-seen shipwrecks of San Diego’s Wreck Alley. El Rey is one of those wrecks: I believe I’ve (now) dove it twice in my nearly three years here. Both times, though, I’ve been blown away with how fun the []

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San Diego, California: Divers and a black sea nettle jellyfish on the USS Hogan wreck near the US-Mexico Border.

Photo of the Week: Black Sea Nettle Jellyfish on the USS Hogan Wreck

Regular readers are by now aware of my obsession with the black sea nettle jellyfish. I worked a dive charter a few weeks ago and spotted my first black sea nettle of the summer from the confines of the boat. It was all over–from that moment on, I lived and breathed black sea nettles. (Seriously: it’s a sickness. We even slow down the boat so we can stare/go around/not shred them with the props.)

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Diver and Sunburst

Macro Mania

I love shooting wide angle.

When the water is clear, there is nothing more gratifying than that fisheye lens and dome port. Wrecks. Kelp forests. Big animals. Coral reefs. And people. Wide angle means context, and people love context. People identify with the scene. They like seeing themselves, or people like themselves, in the frame.

When the water is clear.

But betting on clear water in San Diego is not a smart bet. So I often hedge with the macro lens.

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Point Loma Kelp, San Diego, California: Spanish Shawl (Flabellina iodinea) Nudibranch

Dreamy Nudibranch

The kelp forest can be a pretty dreamy place. The light coming through the kelp canopy has an ethereal beauty, and the gentle sway of the kelp stalks in light surge could rock you to sleep.

I wanted to capture that surreal, unearthly quality in this week’s nudibranch photos.

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Wolf Eel on USS Hogan Wreck, San Diego

Photo of the Week: A Wolf Eel on the USS Hogan Wreck

The USS Hogan wreck is pretty much the perfect San Diego dive site–the conditions are usually excellent, the sea life is abundant, and the depth and distance from port are such that the site has an air of exclusivity to it.

It’s also so rife with wolf eels that it almost–note I said almost–renders them old hat.

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San Diego, California: A Purple-Striped Sea Nettle (Chrysaora colorata) on the USS Hogan wreck near the US-Mexico Border.

The Purple-Striped Jellyfish/Sea Nettle (Chrysaora colorata)

There were ripping currents on the deep wrecks this past weekend, and with the currents came a whole slew of jellyfish and tunicates. I’m mildly obsessive about the Black Sea Nettle bloom we sometimes get in San Diego in the summers, and I’m well-known as a nudibranch zealot, so it should come as no surprise that I get pretty excited about other squishy invertebrates as well.

This is why, when I actually happened to look up for once and spotted a big Purple-Striped Jellyfish (Chrysaora colorata) crossing the anchor line about 20 feet over the USS Hogan wreck, I took a quick mental note of where my teammates were, and went up for a closer look.

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backtothefuchsia

Back to the Fuchsia

Everything came together. I navigated through crappy visibility. I clambered around in surge that felt like the spin cycle. I stared at rocks until my vision focused on tiny fuchsia Spanish Shawls, my favorite nudibranch. I shed the responsibility of someone else’s good time, and all I had was my own.

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Dead dolphin at La Jolla Shores, San Diego, California

Throwback Thursday: Dead Dolphins and Live Whale Sharks

It was with a smug superiority that I returned to vacation: living it up while climbing ruins, rafting rivers, and stalking whale sharks was the name of the game. To summarize:

The Belizean landscape was raw and rife with exotic wildlife.

The Mayan ruins were breathtaking and fabulous.

The whale sharks were one of the bigger disappointments of my diving career.

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Mexichromis porterae nudibranch with Podocerus cristatus amphipod hitchhiker

Photo of the Week: The Hitchhiker

If I’d had the ocular fortitude to spot the microscopic amphipod hitchhiking a ride on this nudibranch’s back, I would have spent all damn day shooting those two little guys. However, I never even saw it until I was home, my gear was rinsed and drying, and I was on the computer, heavily cropping this shot.

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Sunset at Key West, Florida

Back in Sun Diego: Solar-powered sea critters

Yesterday, while enjoying the heat at the pool, I briefly considered the possibility that maybe I was actually solar-powered. I don’t need food anymore, I thought, All I need is warmth.

This of course was incorrect, and I shuffled my flip-flops home almost immediately thereafter and ate some soup.

But it reminded me of critters that actually are solar-powered. Sea slugs, specifically.

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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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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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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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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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Spanish Shawl nudibranch

A Sojourn with the Shawls

So I was having some issues with my strobe connection, which made my lighting situation pretty much suck, especially when it was called upon to light anything farther than 0.000000001 cm away. Incidentally, there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of sea creatures who tolerate that kind of proximity to us noisy bubble-blowers. So I opted for my old standby, the nudibranch, which either doesn’t care or can’t get away or both. And Spanish Shawls were all over the rocks. Awesome!

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xiao-liwu-baby-panda-3

Baby Pandas are Adorable Fuzzy Lumps of Boring

Today was giant panda cub Xiao Liwu’s public debut at the San Diego Zoo. Xiao Liwu, whose name means “Little Gift,” was moved to his outdoor habitat yesterday, where he did all kinds of adorable baby animal stuff for the media. Now, I’m no expert, but my understanding of pandas is that they do three []

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California-Sea-Lion-20.jpg

Why I Dive: Sea Lion Edition

People ask me all the time why I dive here in California. Maybe they’ve gone for a dive or a snorkel in Hawaii or the Caribbean, and they know the water here is so much colder and darker and less clear. I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve asked, incredulously, “Is there anything to []

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2012-08-18 - Point Loma Kelp Crab-14

I don’t always solo dive, but when I do, I’m liable to spend eight minutes at three feet with a kelp crab.

On Saturday I got out for a much-needed fun dive in the Point Loma kelp. It felt like I hadn’t been in the water in a while, and it showed in my more-moronic-than-usual navigational skills. Mat and Nick were doing training dives for their rEvo rebreather class, and my initial intention was to watch them []

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2012-08-15 - San Diego - Point Loma Sailboat Wreck-3

Point Loma Sailboat Wreck Debris Cleanup

Update 2/2014: Although swells have long since reduced the Chelsea Lee wreck to a debris field, the rocky reef structure at the wreck site remains a favorite destination for divers due to its dramatic wall topography and rich marine life.   Cleanup of the Chelsea Lee Sailboat Wreck Yesterday, Marissa crew and friends went out to []

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Leopard Shark at Marine Room, La Jolla, California

Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks at the Marine Room!

Yeah, I usually dive. But it was a sunny day, and the shallow water was clear. And who wants to put on a drysuit and carry all that heavy scuba equipment across the beach in the hot sun? Not me, not yesterday. But the leopard sharks have moved in at La Jolla. And I had []

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Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Operation: Black Sea Nettle is a success!

One of my (many) favorite things about scuba diving in San Diego is the constant turnover of animal populations. I’ve lived and dove here for less than a year, and already I’ve been witness to the market squid run and the bat ray invasion. I was there when the juvenile rockfish moved in at La Jolla Shores, []

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