Scuba Diving Magazine Feature: Where in the World is Wallace?

Wallace

Here is a link to June’s instalment – this one all about the Wallace Line – an imaginary boundary that runs through southeast Asia that divides Asian and Australian ecosystems, and introduces some hybrid species in the process.

You’ll find the full article and image gallery here —-> Where in the World is Wallace?


Scuba Diving Magazine Features: Liberty Wreck (Bali) & Diving With The Kids

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I have been super busy over the past few months with a big domestic project, which I hopefully will find some time to blog about in the coming months. Suffice to say for now that we are building the dream ;^)

I have had a couple of photo essays published in Scuba Diving Magazine since I last blogged. January’s instalment was all about diving the wonderful Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali.

And just published a few days ago – a piece about Diving With The Kids – which shares images and stories about how our three daughters came to be certified and ultimately very competent divers. I also tried to offer some insights into deciding when your kids are ready, and some of the risks attached to diving with your youngsters.

 


Trip Report: Wakatobi Dive Resort, Indonesia

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The long house at Wakatobi – which was the original lodge. The resort has grown to include a separate dining area and numerous guest bungalows. The long house now serves as main reception, camera room, dive center, boutique and nice lounging area.

Wakatobi had been on my wishlist for many years – spoken of (and written about) with reverence, and illustrated by the images of some top tier photographers, I had heard it  described as the “nicest dive resort in the world, with a fantastic house reef”.

With that description, it became a siren call that could not be ignored.

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Scuba Diving Magazine Feature – Komodo

Just published – a photo feature of mine about diving in Komodo National Park, in Indonesia.

You’ll find it here —> Diving Indonesia’s Komodo National Park

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I have also photo-blogged extensively about diving and land touring in Komodo. You will find the first chapter of the series here.


Spring Dreams Are Made of These

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California Poppy, ready to bloom

Now in the depths of winter here in Vancouver, like all avid gardeners, all I can think about is Spring.

The garden has finally been put to rest for these somnolent months – I’ve raked up bushels of leaves fallen from the deciduous trees and mounded them in the beds, to mulch and suppress weeds, and then to (hopefully) break down over the winter to feed in the Spring. The perennials – the Lady’s Mantle, the Solomon’s Seal, the French Irises, the Japanese Anemones, the Black-eyed Susans, the Hostas – have been cut back to the earth, the tall fountain grasses too – to sleep for this short Vancouver winter before their Spring resurrection. The Dahlia tubers have been exhumed and stored in the cool dry shelter of the garage. The vegetable boxes are quite bare, although a few hardy kale, beets, carrots and swiss chard boldy brave the cold nights thus far.

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A New Day

Man, where does the time go?

When I last logged in to blog, it was early August. Summer was in full swing here in Vancouver, and with it, lots of warm and wonderful distractions.

August slammed into September, and then I was off on a much anticipated dive adventure, this time to lovely Wakatobi Resort, in Indonesia, with many of the usual suspects (ie our regular dive buddies). I am still processing the images I captured there, and hope to start sharing them here soon.

Then it was October, and off I went again, on my semi-annual Berlin beer bender ;^) Seriously, Mr G has some business in Germany, and I am lucky enough to be invited to tag along (I suspect mostly to warm his bed ;^) in the Fall and in the Spring, when the board comes to town and spouses are welcome to accompany them. It is a no-brainer for me to go, as Mr G travels a lot for work and earns a nice big stash of frequent flyer points, which allows me to go to Berlin on the cheap, and also helps get us to places like Asia to dive with some regularity.

I really have grown to love Berlin, and I should make more of an effort to write about this fascinating city, but somehow, between the fugue of jetlag and some very late nights out imbibing aforementioned (and fantastic) German beers, I don’t often get around to it. On my last trip there, in Spring of this year, I was very moved by my visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and felt compelled to share it. On this recent trip, not so much on the museums nor the writing. My bad.

And speaking of writing, I have a new gig at Scubadiving Magazine – contributing a once a month photo essay for their online magazine and e.news. I am totally thrilled to have been offered this wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to sharing my stuff with a wider audience.

Here is a link to the inaugural piece – all about the gorgeous soft coral gardens of Fiji.

Diving Fiji, the Soft Coral Capital of the World

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Pic of the Day – Topside Tuesday

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Sunset in Grand Cayman

Okay, I’ll admit it, like many folks, I am a total sucker for sunsets.

This one was captured in Grand Cayman, a couple of years ago. Today I was surfing through an archive of images from this trip that I took with my bud Miz Gills (aka Gunard), and I found a series of beach scenes and sunset images I had taken with the Canon G10 digicam. As I wrote last week, this little camera has become my favorite for land shots, as it is lightweight to schlep around and there are no decisions about which lens to screw on.

I can’t recall if I shot this in auto mode or manual. Either way, it was a gorgeous sunset and I only hope I did it justice.


Pic of the Day – Squat Anemone Shrimp

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Squat Anemone Shrimp – Thor amboinensis

Hey, it’s Macro Monday ;^)

Despite the gorgeous weather outside (truly, this has been the most spectacular July in recent memory here in Vancouver), I am on deadline for my August photo essay submission for Sport Diver Magazine.

So, here I am, numb butted, culling through reams of images that I have shot in Cozumel over the years – I’ve been diving there at least ten times, and shot a camera on at least six of those trips, so there is a rather daunting number of images to choose from.

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Pic of the Day – Ribbon Eel

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Male Ribbon Eel – Rhinomureaena quaesita

Here’s Friday’s funny fish face – a ribbon eel. The above image was captured in Ambon Harbour, Indonesia.

These little eels are a tropical Pacific photographer’s favourite – but, unlike most eels, they are not so easy to photograph. Although they grow to about 3 feet in length, their heads are quite small. They are also an eel that moves a lot, with the action of their head and upper body much like a flame in a strong breeze. Catching them during this continuous movement with a macro lens can be a bedevilling proposition. And, like many other reef creatures that live in burrows, ribbon eels can and do withdraw into their holes on approach. Patience is required to wait for them to come back out again.

Ribbon eels are protandrous hermaphrodites – a fancy way of saying that all start out as males, and then some sex change to female, apparently as a response to social demand/need for females to breed.

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Pic of the Day – Tiny Bubbles

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For wide angle Wednesday, here’s an image of Mr G amidst percolating gas bubbles, taken at Sangeyang Island, in Northern Komodo, Indonesia.

Sangeyang is an active, simmering volcano. The island was evacuated several years ago, although a few brave souls remain in a rudimentary village, perched on its beautiful shore.

We did a couple of dives with these “champagne bubbles”, at a site called Hot Rocks. It was pretty surreal – I am not aware of anywhere else in the world where divers can have this experience.

Nearby, there are also some “vents” where very warm water seeps up through fissures in the reef – which makes for some pretty groovy hand-warming stations ;^) And, it would appear that the critters like the jacuzzi too – this site was well populated with a cool cast of stuff, and the coral gardens in the shallows were lovely as well.

To read more about this bubbly diving, and see more images captured at this site, you can follow this link to my story.


Pic of the Day – Topside Tuesday: Thai Sunset

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Just a quick pic for today, as a sunny day beckons me out into my somewhat neglected summer garden.

This was a beautiful sunset in the Similan Islands of Thailand, taken during a great trip on The Junk live aboard. The image was captured with a Canon G10 digicam in wide angle mode. This little camera has become my “go to” topside camera on trips, as it is lightweight and easy to carry on hikes etc. Mr G also has a housing for it so he can shoot it underwater. I never cease to be amazed by the quality images that this little camera can pump out, both topside and underwater.


Pic of the Day – Magnificent Ceratosoma Nudibranch & Ladybug Amphipods

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Magnificent Ceratosoma Nudibranch – Ceratosoma magnificum

Today’s pic is a Magnificent Ceratosoma nudibranch, photographed in South Komodo – near the epic Horseshoe Bay at Rinca island. It was about 2.5 inches in length.

There was quite a bit of excitement when this nudi was first spotted – apparently it is not often seen. This one was down around 70 feet, and with many of us wanting to capture an image/video of it, I hurried my first attempt so I wouldn’t be hogging the subject, and then I moved up into shallower water as we were nearing the end of the dive. Doing a quick review of my images, I felt I hadn’t really got what I was hoping for, so I waited out the rest of the gang, who I could see below me, as they took their shots. Once everyone had their turn and had left the area, I dropped back down and took another quick try (getting low on gas and bottom time), and this is the best I got.

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Pic of the Day – Pajama Cardinalfish

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Pajama Cardinalfish – Sphaeramia nematoptera

Friday’s funny fish face is the Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera).

I photographed this little cutie on a shore dive in Fiji earlier this year. It is kind of an amusing tale – the visibility was pretty poor (downright spunky in fact) and I was diving with a couple of the guides at Wananavu, who were being really kind in helping me find cool stuff to photograph. I believe that their primary purpose was really to check me out (it was my first dive of the trip) so that the managers of the dive op could feel confident that I would be okay diving solo on future shore dives, as I had indicated I’d like the opportunity to do that.

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A Fan Letter

I mentioned in a blog post a while back that I had started re-reading Herman Wouk’s two epic novels about World War II – Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.

Fast forward several months, and I am nearing the end of the second novel of the series. As a sometime writer (non-fiction) myself, I continue to be awed by the scope and quality of these two books. I can’t recommend them enough.

Herman Wouk is now 98 years old, and he is still writing! He last published a novel in 2012. That is one long career, and life!

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Pic of the Day – Red Irish Lord

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Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus)

Friday’s Funny Fish Face is a Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus), a cold water fish that I photographed in Discovery Passage in British Columbia.

This brightly coloured fish, which can camouflage itself to blend into its environment, is a member of the Sculpin family. They can grow up to about a foot long – this one was smaller than that. I have seen very few of these fish, despite a significant number of cold water dives in my logbook. It is my understanding that they are not overly uncommon, but this is the only one that I have had the chance to photograph – way back in May 2003 when Mr G and I were diving on a Diverlink group trip to Dynamike’s, on Quadra Island.

The Red Irish Lord has fascinating eye details. And this type of fish is so confident in its camouflage that it will allow divers to make a close approach, if executed cautiously, so getting a good gander at the eye should be totally possible.

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The Tipping Point

Food for thought, in a well-argued article on Slate Magazine this week…

Tipping is an Abomination

Despite the rather dramatic headline, this article offers an interesting perspective on the whole concept of tipping for service in restaurants in the US.

Personally, I am a fan of service compris (service cost included in the menu prices, or sometimes at the end of the bill) – a concept found in some countries in Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, and some parts of Italy, in my experience). It takes away the arbitrariness of tipping, and assures that the wait person gets paid for the work they did. So they didn’t do such a great job? Then don’t go back. And let the Manager know why you won’t be returning. This is a lot more humane than stiffing a wait person making less than minimum wage in the US.

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