Face to face with the Blacklip
Butterflyfish. Kiss, anyone?
In addition to recording some of the various flora and fauna that we see on land, we have been accumulating thousands of underwater images taken in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Although we have written a bit on the luxuriant underwater world we sailed on before we got to the South Pacific (see West Indies Underwater), it is only since the Society Islands of French Polynesia that we have been able to photograph some of the amazing life-forms over which we sail. The shots here represent only a fraction of those we've taken but we hope it gives an idea of the incredible variety of life in the tropical seas. The photos come from both snorkeling and diving excursions.
If you're interested in the specifics of where we went scuba diving, (and to see more photos) go to our Diving pages. To see what books we use as references for both diving and marine life ID, click here.
In the Caribbean, many is the time that we wished we had an underwater camera so we could share (and remember) what we experienced. This became even more important after we all got scuba certified in Bonaire. We wanted to go digital, but even poor digital underwater cameras were expensive. The more we researched them, the more we realized that this was research we would have to do ourselves, from the US. This meant that we had to wait until we went back home for a visit.
Anemonefish peek out from their living shelter
Luckily, this delay also meant that many more manufacturers had come out with either underwater digital cameras, or digital cameras with underwater housings. So in January 2004 we returned to Ocelot with a 4MP Canon A80 and a custom Canon underwater housing. The Canon's small 3x zoom lens was not as good as our Fuji Finepix (f2.8, 6x optical zoom) that took all of the out-of-water shots of our trip prior to December 2006, but it seems adequate for our underwater needs. Underwater shots are typically in the range of 1-20 feet (0.3-7m), and the Canon actually has a bigger CCD (the "film" of a digital camera) than the Fuji. This allows us to pick out a fish from a larger image and still have it be big enough for the web. The Canon A80, while physically small, has all the aperture, shutter speed, and other manual setting options that our Canon A-2 SLR's had when we used film cameras. And the underwater housing is dedicated to the camera, and so all those features are accessible even underwater!
The Canon A80 gave out (electronic problems) in late 2006, so we purchased a Canon A710 IS, with 7 megapixels and a 6x optical zoom. Unfortunately, each camera has its own unique underwater housing, so we were up for a new housing as well. With our son Christopher off at college, Amanda has become our primary underwater photographer. (Our land camera, by the way, was changed form the Fuji to a much better Canon Rebel digital SLR which has 8 megapixels and takes our wonderful IS telephoto lenses from our old Canon A-series film cameras.)
One problem we faced with underwater photography is that water quickly eats up all red light, so our earliest underwater pictures came out very blue. We can adjust this on the computer afterwards, but it takes a long time. We'd shot over 1,200 underwater pictures before Chris worked out that the Canon can store several different white-balances. So we adjusted the white-balance at about 12 ft deep, and now our shots come out much better - enough so that now we want to go back to all our previous snorkels and dives & re-shoot them! The Canon A710 has this feature as well, but less sophisticated than what we had on the A80.
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