Study in Red
This was the most shocking capture. I focused on the eye of this Pigmy Seahorse and achieved focus lock. Later
I discovered that I had not captured the entire critter. Imagine that, a Pigmy Seahorse that was actually too
big for the lens! A little help from Guy and Anita, far more artsy than I, produced this 16:9 shot for the slideshow.
Study in Blue
These 'Blue Bells' are apparently Tunicates. I had never even considered this as a subject. It was just another stalk
of something! My dive guide, Ana, suggested photographing Sea Squirts and tunicates. I took a few shots. This is full
frame and I'd like to try to print it in a matt finish.
Study in Parts
I have photographed Soft Coral many times in macro, usually with a resident Soft Coral Crab. Magnified, it is another
experience altogether. This entire "subjects never photographed" gave me a new appreciation of the underwater beauty.
Study in Discovery
I actually found this white Pygmy Seahorse myself. Prior to this, white pygmy Seahorses always looked like just another
white fleck on the Halimeda weed. It was much tinier than the red variety. This is the shot that guests most want.
Getting one to look at the camera is very difficult. Getting the entire body viewable, even more so. Of course this
was ho-hum to artsy types. Between the three, Anita, Guy and Ana, they continued to convince me to take more
'unusual' "subjects never photographed" underwater.
Study in White
This Cowrie on a Sea Fan was tiny. The detail on the shell is amazing. Our guide, Wayan, suggested this capture.
Notice that the milky white of the shell was captured and the underlying ridges on the shell are present.
Study in Technique
Generally I shoot macro in focus priority mode meaning that the subject must be in focus for the camera to take a
shot. With super-macro I get closer that minimum focus distance, then withdraw until the subject becomes in-focus
and the camera takes a shot. Problem is that if anything is moving, either the camera or the subject the camera
can't get a focus lock that it finds acceptable. The good news is that most of the shots the camera decides to
take are tack sharp. The bad news is the frustration when the camera won't take a shot that looks perfectly
focused to me.
The camera is set between f/29-f/32 and the shutter is 1/200-1/250. The INON z-240 strobes are even with and
touching the port. My long 9" dual Stix arms really got in the way preventing many shots where an overhang was
I did not use my FIX focus light because it too extended well above the housing body limiting flexibility.
Next time I plan single short arms. A ring flash would be good if it was compatible with the subsee.
This is the full frame shot (cropped on only 1 axis for 3:2 to 8.5 x 11) of the first picture.
Study on Technique
Super macro photography is the world of razor-thin depth of field, even at f/32. That means that only a small
portion of the subject is in perfect focus (if any). On the other hand, if something in-focus is interesting,
the shot may be great. 'Boobs' is a serious crop of a Sea Squirt. Just weird. This file is only 1288 x765 pixels.
It could still probably be printed successfully, but people love it on the screen.
Barrel Sponge Lice
They look like part of the Barrel Sponge. Like little specs of dust all over it. But blow it up, zoom in.. they are
alive! Even with a 2:1 this is a serious crop and zoom, but some detail remains.
Bubble Coral Shrimp
Details never before seen, this photo was followed by a long discussion on what the Shrimp is actually manipulating.
Eggs? No, not eggs. Neither is the back of the critter covered in eggs. It's part of the shrimp! The decision was
"stuff"e;. Stuff scraped off the bubble coral. Ms. Shrimp is eating it. Stuff.
This is a close crop of tiny Flower Pot Coral polyps. I need to try this again. Unfortunately any movement,
either the camera or the subject, ruins the focus. My 105mm lens, new style, is ultra-fast in autofocus, but
still not fast enough to handle any movement.
Another Sea Squirt shot showing the delicately beautiful arrangement on the stalk.
Blue Pygmy Seahorse
Finally, a simple, super-macro shot of a red Pygmy Seahorse, with a blue tint - from eating the fan?
About the Author
Consultant to USCLab www.usclab.usc.edu
Program Manager for the Rainbow Sensor Program
Co-inventor of the rainbow sensor.
Diving since 2001 with 600+ dives
Special Interest: Underwater Photography
Coral Reefs need top quality water quality management. Poor water quality ultimately leads to dead reefs. Unfortunately, the budgets for water quality in large urban areas such as Los Angeles are out of the question for most parts of the world. Together with Dr. Burt Jones http://usclab.usc.edu/people.html, USC Biology Dept, Tom developed the "rainbow sensor" that inexpensively measures organic components of seawater. With this technology, it is now possible for small organizations to fund and manage local water quality measurements.
Read Tom's Endorsement of Wakatobi