OPPORTUNITIES IN PHOTOGRAPHY
Macro photography generally refers to shooting small subjects at close range. When shooting macro underwater, we are usually shooting the ocean's smaller majority -the little critters that go unnoticed by many divers.
Over the past year I have put a lot of effort into finding good macro photography opportunities. The effort rewarded me with finding macro “hotspots” on different reefs around Ponta do Ouro. One of the most successful locations I found was, the reef Blacks and our own secret Sea Pen bed.
Some of the subjects are more common than others. Many of the subjects are territorial to the various areas on the reefs allowing the chances to locate and identify them easier; and in turn, maximizing one’s time to hone in on macro shooting skills and experiment with new techniques.
PONTAS UNIQUE CRITTER LIST:
Little Dragonfish (Eurypegasus draconis)
Robust Ghostpipefish (Solenostumus cyanopterus)
African Short-snout Seahorse (Hippocampus natalensis)
Sea fan shrimp (Periclimens psamathe)
Emperor shrimp (Periclimens imperator)
Sea pen symbiont shrimp (Dasycaris symbioses)
Isopod (Mesanthura astelia)
Conical spider crab (Xenocarcinus conicus)
Candy crab (Hoplophrys oatesil)
Candy cane crab (Lissoporcellana sp.)
Painted porcelain crab (Porcellanella picta)
Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera elegans)
Wire coral shrimp (Pontonides unciger)
White ghost goby (Pleurosicya boldinghi)
GO SMALL OR GO HOME
Ponta do Ouro boasts an array of macro subjects that can be utilized to hone in on macro skills. The small proximity and very common sightings of all these critters make this our top macro “hotspot.” So, if you are brave enough on your next trip to Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique, dive with the macro kit, and I think you will be impressed.
When: Diving is year round.
Reefs: Blacks 18m, Doodles 18m, Kevs Ledge 19-24m, The Stables 33,
Subjects: Lots of critters, including skeleton shrimp, secretary blennies, slender filefish, and a big selection of nudibranchs.
Equipment: A longer length macro lens can come in handy for more shy subjects. Add on a wet diopter to capture the selection of super macro objects.
WIDE ANGLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Ponta do Ouro is home to some of the finest reef macro diving in the world. There are also world class wide-angle opportunities for those who can pull themselves away from the small stuff. The team lead by Jenny is dedicated to helping you expand your knowledge and skill in capturing stunning imagery of this abundant and varied environment. The variety of species and environments that can be found within a 15 minute boat ride from our dive center is simply staggering...
Although the ocean is teeming with strange and beautiful macro subjects that could keep a photographer busy for many lifetimes, wide angle photography usually includes the water itself as an element of the composition, which presents the unique opportunity to capture the ocean and its inhabitants in all its majestic splendor.
Wide angle underwater photography can be tricky at first, but with a little practice it can also be extremely rewarding. The possibilities for creative compositions and lighting styles are endless. So grab a dome port and capture the underwater world!
PONTA WIDE ANGLE SUBJECTS:
Devil fire fish
Bait balls of fish
Giant painted frogfish
Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin
Silver tip shark
GO BIG OR GO HOME
Ponta do Ouro host seasonal and all year around wide angle subjects. Many of the subjects are territorial and therefor predictable. So, if you are ready for a challenge that requires a good knowing of the behaviour of our various subject and you being a good diver with good buoyancy bring on your wide angle and lets go.
When: Sharks September-May, whales May-November, turtles all year round, dolphins all year round, spanish dancers all year round. Hard coral diving year around.
Reefs: Pinnacle 35m, Atlantis 39m, Kevs Ledge 19-24m, Doodles 18m, Dropzone 10-17m, Techobanine 2-10m.
Subjects: Occasional whale sharks and manta rays. Seasonal sharks and humpback whales. Dolphin swims going out a few times a week. Amazing hard coral at Techobanine reef.
Equipment: A wide angle lens and a fish eye with two good strobes and you are ready to take on our wide angle subjects.
A relatively new underwater experience has been taking divers out of their near shore comfort zone and into open-ocean pelagic waters for a completely different kind of experience. The best way to encounter creatures in this vast submerged world is to go at night, thus the name: blackwater. The result is a critter-geek heaven full of crazy life-forms that the world’s wildest imagination couldn’t dream of. Here in Ponta this organisms are visible even during the day so I have modified the concept a bit. We shoot during the day instead on Pelagic dive sites.
Blackwater diving has a cult-like and loyal following among critter geeks for good reason. Plankton is one of the least known groups of organisms, with gelatinous plankton being some of the most challenging groups to study. Optical counters miss gelatin, plankton nets tend to shred delicate animals, most die in captivity and few people have the gumption to dive the open ocean at night. There is always a good chance that the gelatinous moving blob in front of you is completely unknown to science.
FINDING BLACK WATER ANIMALS
The goal of a blackwater dive is to find animals that have spent the last million-odd years evolving to be unseeable. Therefore, learn a few tricks before venturing out into your first blackwater experience.
Look Small - The key to blackwater animals is that many are just larval forms of their larger parents. Spending the dive looking for big animals means you will miss all the tiny gems that go floating by. However, focusing on the itty-bitty copepods won’t distract from the larger ctenophores and pyrosomes when they do show up.
Look U - Half the fun of a blackwater dive is checking out the deepwater animals that have come to the surface to feed. That’s where many larval fish, the majority of crab zooea, flying fish and even pelagic seahorses prefer to hang out.
Watch for Shadows - Bigger animals like ctenophores and siphonophores will often show up first as a large shadow against a buddy’s beam, completely unnoticed by that person. Use your neighbor’s beams to broaden the available search area.
Know your Plankton - As with most dive spots, appreciation begins with knowledge. No handy guidebooks are available on the subject of pelagic animals, but there are a few websites.