Gallery

Underwater in the Adriatic Sea

We are just back from a gloriously relaxing holiday in Croatia and Singapore. In Croatia, we spent an entire week aboard the Vranjak I, a thoughtfully and sturdily appointed dive vessel.

Our lives on the boat were unhurried and chill: Wake up at 545am for the sunrise, wait impatiently for the bakeries to open to fill our burek cravings, watch the early morning glow on the island towns as the captain starts the engine and throttle out the port. Enjoy a warm cuppa on the couches on the bow deck of our vessel while soaking up the warmth of the morning rays. Squeeze into our wetsuits and plunge into startling clear waters for our first dive of the day. Lunch and siesta in the sun before the next dive. Dock at the next island, and explore its cobblestone streets and alleys in the golden evening light. Eat on board our boat, snap blue hour pictures, grab a dessert and aperitif on land after. Crash into bed after for a long and deep sleep. Rinse and repeat.

Our divemaster, Tommo, repeatedly stressed that we were blessed with the most beneficent weather. Think flat, glassy waters and blue cloudless days. Apparently, the week before we boarded, the divers had to content with gusty winds and waves 10 feet high. And indeed, the weather the days after we disembarked was alternately windy and stormy too.

The diving itself was novel. We’d only previously dove in warm tropical waters, and so weren’t expecting the brisk 62 F / 16 C waters that greeted us when we first plunged in. Although most of our dives were in deep waters (30-45m), visibility was good, and while we spotted no sharks, rays, or turtles, there were plenty of scorpion fish, sea centipedes, octopuses, lobsters, nudibranches, eels, cat shark eggs, and gigantic gorgonian sea fans to catch our interest. We also dove two wreck dives, the Vassilios (1920 Japanese trading vessel that sunk in 1930), and the Teti (1883 ship that also sunk in 1930).

Gallery

Highlights of 2015

2015 was a good year, photography and otherwise. But since this is a photo blog, I’m just going to recap on the 12 photographic highlights of the year, by month.

Overall, it was a year of exploration, of the new place we now call home, Sydney, and its surrounds. It was a year of learning ever more closely of working with my camera, of understanding and appreciating light and clouds in their different forms and colors. I have chased more sunrises this year than I have in all my other years combined. I have realized how much of an ocean girl I am at heart, for nothing makes me smile more than the sight of the sea and all its varied moods – wild, frothy, raging or glassy, smooth, gently reflecting the color of the sky overhead.

January: We kicked off the year in Singapore, in my parents’ house that they rebuilt. Then moved to Sydney, and spent one weekend in Hunter Valley, and another in Melbourne watching the Australian Open. It was an action-packed month to say the least
DSC05534

Februrary: Jeff flew us up in a seaplane to Palm Beach as a surprise. We spent the afternoon kayaking and then hiked up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse before flying back to Rose Bay

watson bay

March: Caught a beautiful sunset by the Sydney Harbor Bridge at Milsons Point. Haha, one of the most popular locations for shooting the bridge, but I had to see – and capture – it for myself
Mar 2015 Milsons Point Sunset-46

April: Our first visit to the Blue Mountains. Well actually, to Mount Wilson
Blue Mountains Mt Wilson (1 of 1)

May: We brought both our parents to Maui Hawaii, for a week
IMG_5810-280-HDR-1

June: Jeff’s family came back to Sydney with us from Hawaii, and Joe and I went down to Bondi early one stormy morning to catch the incredible sunrise
June 2015 Bondi to Covelly Sunrise (30 of 67)-1

July: We spent a weekend in Forster, where we went whale watching
IMG_8579

August: Enjoyed a cool winter dawn up by Curl Curl Beach, watching fishermen and surfers. We also did go to Tasmania and Wellington to taste wines, but tasting took precedence over photography. Hehe.
IMG_9006-1

September: My high school friend V came to visit, and the two of us and TPR went up to Blue Mountains for a weekend. We also returned Stateside for a visit, but catching up with friends and family and battling jet lag took precedence over photography
River Walk Blue Mountains (1 of 1)-2

October: Big month for us, with loads of activities. Well first my family came to town, and we went skydiving for my grandpa’s 90th birthday. And then we went to Fiji with Wendy and Chris
DSC07992

November: Sunrise paddle before work to Sydney Harbor Bridge where we saw two cruise ships come into the harbor
HarborBridgeSunrise3

December: After a wonderful Christmas in Melbourne, we explored the coast along Southern New South Wales, then rang in the new year with some friends first kayaking to watch the 9pm fireworks, then mooring alongside a friend’s sailboat to catch the midnight one

DSC08229

Looking forward to another adventurous 2016!

Gallery

Diving in Fiji, Clown Fish Edition

The past couple of years, we’ve dove in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and consequently have missed seeing the colorful clown anemone fish. Happily, we had an abundance of them in Fiji, and a few different species (and in different types of anemones) at that!

Glassy waters
The storms were just abating Monday, the first day we plunged in the waters. But by Tuesday, the winds had died down such that the waters were calm, glassy.
Baby nemo
Baby Nemo

DSC08007

DSC07992

DSC07991

Clown fish

Clown fish

DSC07409

There’s obviously tons of other colorful fish besides these cute clown anemones of course, including our new favorite wrasse, the bird wrasse.

Bird Wrasse
Bird Wrasse

DSC08020

DSC08017

DSC07984

DSC07989

DSC07967

Anthias galore

DSC07683

DSC07580

DSC07575

DSC07594

DSC07510

Scrambled Egg Nudibranch
Scrambled Egg Nudibranch

DSC07438

Diving the Somosomo Strait, Fiji

Except for one day, we spent the rest of our mornings in Fiji underwater. With over 2300 species of fish and nearly 400 species of corals, every dive was an exciting one.

Before this trip, I wasn’t really a fan of drift diving, because I preferred the opportunity to stick myself in one spot and have the luxury of slowly figuring out the proper exposure and strobe lighting for my subject. But currents are what lends the Somosomo Strait its fame and the title ‘soft coral capital of the world’. And with dive sites so brimming with life at every turn, photography can take a back seat. Half the time, I honestly did not know where to turn my head. From the moment we descended, there were so much to look at. Schooling black and red snappers, jacks, barracudas, big eyed brim, to the tiny thousands of blue chromis, orange and purple anthias. Heaps of corals – soft orange, white, blue, pink, purple polyps, hard stag horn corals, table top corals, fan corals. Beds of anemones with shy clown fish occupants. The odd sleepy white tip reef shark, the rainbow colored parrot fish and trigger fish. Nudibranches in all colors, stripes and patterns. Oy.

I did take photos though, loads of them. And I feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of this underwater photography thingy. If only half the time my camera doesn’t mysteriously reset itself to jpeg mode.

Getting ready for our first dive
Getting ready for our first dive

DSC07433

Little puffer
This little puffer reminded us of the ubiquitous puffers we saw in Belize

 

Lobsters
Lobsters, always a feast for the eyes

 

Grouper
We saw so many different colored groupers
Anthias galore
Thousands upon thousands of these orange anthias greeted us on every dive
Green turtle
Initially, we lamented about not spotting any turtles. But Julie, owner of Taveuni Ocean Sports explained that wasn’t a bad thing, since turtles fed on algae and these reefs were healthy enough to have minimal algae
Nudibranches
Nudibranches
Eel
Spotted this tiny eel on the night dive
Honey and Tiger Cowris
Honey and Tiger Cowris

DSC07826

Flying Gurnard
Flying Gurnard

 

Puffer
Puffer trying to hide behind this little twig of a coral

DSC07664

Golden Tunnel Dive
Golden Tunnel Dive
Blue Ribbon Eel
Blue ribbon eels are a rare sight in Fiji

 

Sea crate
These highly venomous sea crates are a fairly common sight in Fiji. We also saw a baby one climb up our dive boat

 

Scorpion Fish
As a friend so aptly dubbed it, the scorpion fish with the ‘resting bitch face’

 

Green Moray
It wasn’t till our last day of diving that we saw morays. On dive #10 at The Ledge, we saw a giant moray. On dive #11 at Fish Factory, we spotted this green moray and a white mouth

 

White mouth moray
White mouth moray
Octopus
At our safety stop, the surge kept pushing us back and forth over this octopus, so safely ensconed in its hole
Gallery

Sunsets in Taveuni, Fiji

We got lucky with the weather. It had been raining steadily the few days before we arrived, and was pretty wet the Saturday afternoon we landed. But the clouds steadily cleared up such that by Sunday evening, patches of blue sky could be seen overhead.

Spearfishermen at night
Spearfishermen at night
IMG_0424
Our little haven for the week, Nakia Resort & Dive

Taveuni sunset

Taveuni sunset 1
Sunsets over the Somosomo Strait

Taveuni sunset 2

Taveuni sunset 3

IMG_0431

Jeff reviewing his dive videos from the day
Jeff reviewing his dive videos from the day

 

Nakia Resort
The moon was waxing the week we arrived. It set at midnight Sunday, then at a later hour each night. The half moon meant we enjoyed slighter currents though. I’m not sure we could have handled 4-6 knots of current!
Gallery

Diving in Maui, Hawaii

After a year on land, we finally made it back underwater, this time in Maui, Hawaii. Over 3 days, we dove 7 dives, all in the Southern part of Maui: St Anthony Wreck, Reef End at Molokini, Molokini Back Wall, Grand Wailea, and Makena Beach Landing. Fun dives, with many turtles (especially the night dive at Makena Beach Landing, where we literally bumped into 17 turtles in the caves!), some sharks, eels and octopuses.

My underwater photography is still very much a work in progress. It was at times a frustrating struggle with the flash. When it got too much, I just turned the camera off so I could properly focus on the moment – diving the incredible underwater topography with all the amazing creatures to behold.
DSC06376-7-1

Dove the St Anthony Wreck site. Not a big area, but it was a good check out dive, with a couple of turtles just chilling on the wreck itself.

DSC06401-56-1

DSC06432-81-1

We dove Reef End at the front side of Molokini Crater twice. Both times, I peered under this ledge and was treated to the sight of a half dozen juvenile white tips milling about

DSC06437-85-1

DSC06438-86-1

DSC06440-87-1

DSC06454-97-1

DSC06464-106-1

DSC06512-134-1

DSC06633-179-1

Crab feasting on uni

DSC06804-269-1

DSC06831-290-1

DSC06836-294-1

Gloomy nudibranch, endemic to Hawaii

DSC06956-414-1

DSC06979-433-1

Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻaDSC07003-455-1