This is just a short recap blog taken from my most recent Facebook posts, on the Scubatravel page, it’s worth going and “liking it” as we often post up offers and special deals there first.

I am currently out in Ambon, Indonesia, which is fast becoming a mecca for macro loving photographers, as the muck or “critter” diving here is of a world class standard.I am staying at Maluku Divers a small photo centric resort, being run by Emily Allen and Joe Daniels.

Joe is himself at the tender age of 27 already making waves in the underwater photographic world, being the recent recipient of the BSOUP (British Society of Underwater Photographers)  award for excellence. And I have been stunned by the sheer breadth of quality images he is producing from this far off part of the world, showcasing both his skills and the enormous variety of unusual marine life here.

Of course behind every good man is a woman, and his partner Emily Allen is a fount of knowledge on the aquatic fauna here, and exhibits a huge enthusiasm for what is happening in the resort both above and below the waterline.Whilst behind the scenes helping keep the resort running smoothly and efficiently.

This is my photographic take on the place so far, in the week that we have been here.

So here’s the first of my FB posts and pictures

“Having a fab time here at Maluku Divers on our photo workshop, and today we saw these flamboyant creatures hanging out, looking magnificent. They are called Rhinopias and are the better dressed cousins of the Scorpion and Lion Fish family”  Duxy

 

A Leafy Rhinopia an incredibly photogenic creature and a regular sighting here at Ambon with Maluku Divers

A Leafy Rhinopia an incredibly photogenic creature and a regular sighting here at Ambon with Maluku Divers

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A purple Paddleflap Rhinopia, looking somewhat like a mauve Victorian gentleman.
I shot this with the 45mm Panasonic macro lens, a great lens for subjects like this when the water has lot’s of backscatter causing sediment suspended in it, as you can get a little closer with the larger subjects.

 

 

“This little cutie was found by our eagle eyed guide Nan, who came to Maluku Divers via a long stint honing his skills in the straits of Lembeh. A tiny orange frogfish only a couple of millimetres long, and barely visible to the naked eye. ” Duxy

 

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This tiny frogfish juvenile, has been illuminated from within by the strobe. You can see how small he is by the size of the grains of sand he is sitting upon.

This little guy was really tiny and a great spot by our guide. The marine life is everywhere here, and so all the more reason to dive responsibly and watch where you put your fins, and to make as little disturbance as possible.

This little guy was really tiny and a great spot by our guide. The marine life is everywhere here, and so all the more reason to dive responsibly and watch where you put your fins, and to make as little disturbance as possible.

 

 

 

“A place like Ambon is a gift if you like to experiment with your lighting, here I’ve backlit a leaf fish. This is also a great way to just focus on the creature, as sometimes muck diving backgrounds can be problematic. So today inspired by Martina, one of our workshoppers I am going to make a snoot. I’ve never been a big fan before but seeing some of her results has spurred me into bodge mode, and I’ve cobbled together a makeshift snoot. Let’s see how it pans out eh!?” Duxy

 

A backlit Leaf Fish, the original file has lots of backscatter, which I have edited out. I am going to try and make a snoot to help reduce this problem.

A backlit Leaf Fish, the original file has lots of backscatter, which I have edited out. I am going to try and make a snoot to help reduce this problem.

 

 

“Snooting is great fun, but needs patience and good buoyancy skills as the tendency to lay down to get the positioning correct, especially with the really small snoot, is high. As you have seen though (tiny orange frogfish picture posted earlier) there is life in every square inch of the substrate so keeping yourself and your fins away from the surface is challenging but doable, although you may find you need to get a few more shots to get it right” Duxy on the photo workshop in Ambon with sticky backed plastic and a couple of bottle tops 

Using snoots for the first time is a challenge, and it is tempting to go back to what you know and are familiar with. My success rate has plummeted but there is no other way than to go through the pain and frustration of going back to basics.

I console myself with the few shots that are a moderate success, and keep telling myself it’s worth the learning curve to gain the new skills 😉

 

This white eyed Moray just peaking out from under a ledge was a great subject fro shooting. Here you can see how the light has just caught his eye and snout.

This white eyed Moray just peaking out from under a ledge was a great subject fro shooting. Here you can see how the light has just caught his eye and snout.

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This nudibranch had a messy background and the surface it was crawling on was also untidy. Snooting it, has allowed me to isolate it from the distracting details.

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This Harlequin Shrimp and smaller friend feasting on a starfish arm, has also benefited from the spotlight effect of the snoot.

 

As a bit of a change I opted to give a wide-angle snooting session a go, I used the wider mouthed snoot and handheld the strobe to position it.
I found it quite frustrating and rewarding in equal amounts !

When it pays off though it feels all worthwhile. Here i’ve managed to just catch the snout of a hungry Lionfish prowling around. Shot under one of the local piers close to Maluku, which provided a suitably evocative and moody backdrop to compose my shot in.

 

A snooted snout, of a hungry Lionfish, under the pier close to Maluku Divers.

A snooted snout, of a hungry Lionfish, under the pier close to Maluku Divers.

 

Using the snoots over the past few days, has definitely been worth it, but a couple of things I noticed myself doing more because of it, were really using my breath control to stay off the bottom, which has reduced my air consumption a bit, and also how easy it is to get focussed upon the subject so much that you tend to lose track of time and so you need to check your gauges and computer more, as its not difficult to go into deco or inadvertently run low on air.

Joe and Emily’s help and local knowledge have been invaluable this last week or so, putting us on the sites with the most action. This knowledge has been really put into place though by the super skilled eagle eyed guides, led by Nan and Ali Baba.
First class example of teamwork in action.

Thanks guys.
Duxy