Bali Photo Blog – Chapter 2 – She Shoots, She Scores?

As I continue with my Indonesian show and tell, I write the subject line of this particular blog post with some irony.

Shooting images under water is challenging – so many variables come in to play – choosing appropriate camera settings for aperture and shutter speed to get the desired depth of field and background, choosing intensity and placement of the strobes, the subject(s) might be moving, you might be moving (cursed current!), there might be a lot of particulate in the water – either from plankton or kicked up silt by other divers, the subject(s) might be highly light reflective (silver and white thingies), or conversely, suck up light (dark coloured thingies), or, be totally perplexing in that they are both light and dark in coloration.

Seriously, I have to confess that the whole thing is a bit of a crapshoot sometimes.

So when it works (and amazingly, it does seem to come together for me more often than not these days), it always seems to be somewhat miraculous.

On our Indonesian journey, we are still at Day One – diving the areas around Tulamben, Bali. The first dive of the trip was at the sloping muck reef just south of the Liberty wreck. The second dive was at a site called Coral Gardens – located a few hundred meters south of the Liberty Wreck. I had an opportunity to dive this site a few years ago, and chose a mid-range lens then, which really only left me the option to shoot fish portraits, and I don’t recall getting a whole bunch of keepers. On this dive, I took the advice of our dive guide, Komang, and set up for macro.

It ended up being a reasonably productive dive (although there were many dives to come where we saw much more stuff), and for the first time, I tried out the +10 diopter. That thing is truly tricky – you have to get very close to the subject, and the depth of field is minute…

So, we dropped in to the water, and off finned the group. Something bright coloured caught my eye as I tailed behind, and low and behold, it was a nifty nudibranch. Unfortunately the group was too far gone for me to show it to everyone, but fortunately we returned to the same area at the end of the dive, so everyone got to see it. It is one of the most beautiful nudibranchs I’ve seen to date, and added bonus – not so tiny – about 1.5 inches long.

Chromodoris Kuniei (the Marilyn Monroe nudibranch), with its skirts lifted.

A little further past the nudi, Mr G spotted this – a beautiful Blue Ribbon Eel:

Blue Ribbon Eel. These are not very large headed – from the tip of the nostrils to the beginning of the blue throat is about 3 inches max. But free swimming out of the hole? (which this one wasn’t) – they are very, very long bodied critters.

Lizardfish are quite common on the reefs of Indonesia – they tend to sit on the bottom, or on a coral head lookout, ready to snatch unwary passersby. Getting up on them to take a shot is a bit challenging as they tend to lift off and move a few feet away, then settle again. When you try to creep up on them again, they move again. Uncooperative little bast*rds ;^)  I didn’t recall seeing this particular variety/coloration previously, so I decided to take a pic and identify it later.  I am still away from my desk, but will look it up as soon as possible:

Leery the Lizardfish

Another eel – this time a White Eyed Moray – also quite common in Indonesia:

White Eyed Moray Eel

Back near where we dropped in, a pair of butterfly fishes was warily hanging out under a coral head. Butterfly fish are always skittish subjects, and getting two in one frame, in manual focus with a macro lens was, er, a bit of a challenge, but persistence finally paid off:

And finally, back to the beauty nudi – this time I popped in a diopter, and went for the head shot:

Next up – a murky macro shore dive…

Other Chapters of the Bali Trip Photo Blog:

Chapter 1 – I Spy With My Little Eye
Chapter 2 – She Shoots, She Scores?
Chapter 3 – Liberty Time
Chapter 4 – Is That A Muck Stick Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

About Judy G Diver

Born and raised on the west coast of Canada, I have always felt a strong connection to the sea. But for many years, I stayed on the surface, afraid of what lurked down deep. When I was in my early 30's, with three young children (aka the P's), my husband (aka Mr G) signed us up for a SCUBA certification course, as a surprise. Although I had my fears, my stubbornness prevailed, and somehow I made it through four murky, frigid, cold water dives in Vancouver to successfully pass the course. Soon after we went diving off the west coast of Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez, where my eyes were opened to the beauty and other-worldliness of the life down under. And the rest, as they say, is history. I currently have well over 2000 dives under the belt, and I have been fortunate to travel and dive in Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Fiji, Palau, Philippines, Galapagos, Costa Rica, Hawaii, California, Egypt, Mexico, several islands in the Caribbean, and here in British Columbia. In addition to this blog and my personal website (, which is linked at the top of the blog, my stuff has been published in a variety of magazines and websites, including a regular monthly feature for Scubadiving Magazine for several years. All links to this work can be found in this blog.
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