Field Notes From Malapascua Island in the Philippines
The Malapascua Island trip with Thresher Shark Divers was very enjoyable, with some very good diving and photographic opportunities, though it was curtailed somewhat by an ear problem later into the visit. By far the most difficult subject was trying to capture the Thresher Sharks at Monad Shoals, as the "prime time" is at 05.00 – 06.00 am, so there’s virtually no light. These impressive sharks are also quite wary and skittish, and don’t often come close enough for good photography.
There's also some very good wider underwater and topside photographic potential here, with some very good macro dives and good dive guiding to help find the subjects. Wide angle/fish eye photographers will find spectacular underwater scenery at Gato Island. Overall, a really good destination, with plenty of variety.- JC
Field Notes From Australia & Hong Kong, July/August 2010
As this trip was mostly in the context of our family holiday, the only real "concentration" on getting images was during the diving trips which will be included in several upcoming features. In terms of the diving, my feeling is that we captured decent magazine article images (which is fine), but the less than perfect conditions and single visits to certain dive sites meant we couldn’t always "maximise" each location.
During some of the other areas we visited such as the Daintree Rainforest, Cooktown and the Undara National Park, I could only imagine what you could capture if you had the time to concentrate, rather than do it at the pace of a 7 year old boy, enjoyable though it was. - JC
Field Notes from Portland and Jersey, June 2010
In the early part of the summer, I visited Portland Harbour to dive and photograph the Countess of Erne, plus the Landing Craft and Bombardon Unit.
The visibility (by Portland Harbour standards) was very good, but it still needed lots of care and attention with strobe placement. The resulting pictures weren’t “mind blowing” but were certainly suitable for my planned feature on diving in the harbour.
In mid June, my visit Bouley Bay in Jersey proved really productive. The friendly and helpful Bouley Bay Dive Centre paired me up with massively enthusiastic local underwater photographer Kirk Truscott who was the perfect dive buddy and guide. His “dive count” in Bouley Bay alone numbered more the 500! Local knowledge is everything and Kirk guided me to some of the best spots! We dived the bay over two days and found great photographic potential, and plenty of material for a magazine feature. - JC
Field Notes from the Lankayan Island, Borneo January/February 2010
Our visit to Lankayan was very enjoyable and productive in a photographic sense.
Whilst the conditions for diving were difficult thanks to a period of very poor visibility, we were able to get some pleasing images, especially of the mating and egg-laying cuttlefish, which were the highlight of the trip.
It gave me the opportunity to work on fish eye photography techniques in low/poor visibility, slow shutter speed and rear curtain sync, and for both us, some forays in the narrow depth of field “bokeh” effect with macro lenses.
Also, at the beginning and end of the trip, we visited the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre at Sepilok, which gave us a chance for some different kinds of photography. - JC
Field Notes from the Cayman Islands, July/August 2009
For our family summer holiday, we headed to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean with our son Zac for our long awaited "family week" aboard the Cayman Aggressor liveaboard.
The conditions were ideal for his first taste of dive trips (he’s only 6!) with calm seas and excellent visibility. It made for an excellent week’s diving and offered some fantastic photo opportunities such as Stingray City, the wall dives of Little Cayman and the “Keith Tibbetts” destroyer wreck, and forays onto the islands.
Photographically, it was a successful trip, with Amanda spending more time modelling, with some very nice images being captured. We also managed to get some great images of Zac at the surface with his SASY tank, one step away from becoming a diver.
Back on Grand Cayman, we stayed for a further 10 days based at 7 mile beach and visited a number of the island’s attractions including the turtle farm, the south shore, the eastern shore and Rum Point.
I also had time for some sporadic dives, mostly around the 7 Mile Beach area and the North Shore. - JC
Field Notes from the Socorro Islands, Mexico, May/June 2009
To get to the Socorros, I travelled on the excellent Solmar V liveaboard, which has a long track record of visiting the area. It’s only possible to go there during the “Socorro season” which lasts from the end of October through to the end of May.
The Socorros are a great destination for pelagic action. Whilst nothing can be "guaranteed" in diving, you can expect some great additions to your logbook (and hopefully your portfolio) such as Giant Pacific Mantas (familiar with divers), the seldom seen Mobula Ray (related to Mantas, but smaller and with a different mouth) and a spectacular selection of sharks that include Hammerheads, White Tips, Silver Tips, Silky Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, Duskies and the possibility of Tiger Sharks and even Whale Sharks.
The area is also known for Wahoo, schools of Jacks and Tuna, Bonitos and even Marlin. Bottlenose Dolphins are common and sometimes check out divers, with whales being represented by Humpbacks in season. Sporadic encounters are possible with other cetaceans, most often in the open ocean crossings between islands or en route to and from the departure point of Cabo San Lucas.
I soon learned that the Socorros are full of photographic opportunities and challenges in equal measure, with divers tending to spend a lot of time hovering in the blue, waiting for the “big things”. But seeing is one thing, getting close enough for good photography is another, especially if you plan on using a fish eye which is my lens of choice.
The Socorros are an excellent if challenging photographic destination that rewards photographers who anticipate, forward plan, and think about the best way of capturing images given the prevailing water, light conditions and the subjects encountered. And, I suppose a little bit of luck is always a good thing too, as it is with most diving.
Overall, a really good trip and highly recommended for divers and photographers alike.
Field Notes from Papua New Guinea, November/December 2008
Our long awaited trip to Papua New Guinea based at the Loloata Island Resort turned out to be "difficult" thanks to Jeremy contracting an ear infection, which meant sitting out almost all of the diving.
Amanda was able to do all of the dives but the plans we had were for working together underwater in terms of modelling were completely scuppered. Also, as a result of Jeremy's ear infection, the planned extension to Walindi had to be cancelled.
Nonetheless, we managed to get some photography done, although nowhere near as much as hoped.
Field Notes from Kauai, July & August 2008
Kauai was a good opportunity at some all-round travel photography set in the context of our family holiday.
There’s some spectacular photographic opportunities here, although the absolute pinnacle of what is possible is down to patience, timing and a just a little bit of luck with the weather and light, which varies enormously.
Although "photographed to death", it’s hard to resist taking pictures at the stunning Waimea Canyon and Kalalau Valley.
We were lucky to arrange a visit to the island of Niihau, to the south west of Kauai, which gave us an opportunity to photograph an area that most visitors to Kauai will only see in the distance.
From an underwater perspective, we enjoyed some stunning diving around Niihau where we were treated to some fantastic encounters with Hawaiian Monk Seals, allowing us to capture some pleasing images. Niihau Arches and Neon Cave were spectacular sites, too.
Amid all the goings on, our cameras had quite a battering, with one camera losing its ability to work its aperture wheel, and annoyingly our 12-24mm wide angle got dropped in a rockpool and has since been pronounced “dead”.
Field Notes From The Typhoon, Northern Red Sea Sea, Egypt June 2008