The last few months have seen a few changes in Laamu Dive and Surf. First and foremost, we (Harvey and Judith) are leaving Laamu to move over to Indonesia’s premier diving resort: Wakatobi. More details will follow shortly here as they take control over this website and the email address will continue to function.
We would like to say a biiiiiiiiig thank you to all those people who came and played with us during our time here. We will be leaving with some great memories and it would be wonderful to meet up with you again somewhere in the Big Blue.
To contact the new operators of the dive center please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can still contact Jude and Harv using these email addresses:
I’m a big believer in diving shallow for the most part. Not only for photography, but also fun diving. Fish and coral numbers and diversity are spread through the water column much like an inverted pyramid with the majority of tropical life found in the top 10m of water. As we dive deeper we gradually lose light and fish numbers start to dwindle. That said, fish and corals have adapted over time to inhabit all the ranges of the ocean, so deeper dives can also be rewarding for certain species of coral and fish that live deeper down.
Photography is a mixture of ‘Light and Time’. I have found that underwater photography is so much easier in the shallows where there is plenty of both, as well as a variety of subjects to concentrate on.
I took the first Butterfly Fish picture a few weeks ago at the end of a dive. Compared to my earlier shots that were deeper… the end result is much more pleasing. This is for me a good example of simple diving and simple photography. ‘Light and Time’- at approximately 3m underwater there is plenty of light to show off the colours, and plenty of diving time to position oneself for the shot.
The middle photo is a Garden Eel- relatively common but extremely shy. It took more than 20 minutes to get this shot but at 5m underwater and with me being as stubborn as a mule… well, again there was plenty of time.
Finally an octopus- again a fairly common animal but often difficult to approach without it withdrawing in to a hole. I spent at least a few minutes just hovering close to the octopus ‘ignoring’ it. This works really well with certain animals (turtles spring to mind) as they seem to finally accept your presence and do not feel threatened. I eventually had the camera within 30cm of it’s face and was able to adjust my settings and position without scaring it. I wanted to get both the eye and the siphon in the shot using ‘the rule of thirds’. Unfortunately I couldn’t help but get some of the coral in the bottom left of the shot- that would have made the shot really nice in my (ever so humble) opinion.
These photos were taken with a Canon S95 compact camera, INON S2000 strobe and edited in Lightroom/Photoshop.
One of our friendly Leaf-fish (Taenianotus triacanthus). When I first came to the Maldives in 2007 I remember I spent over a year searching for a leaf-fish in the south Ari Atoll. None of the other staff were finding them either… so I like to think that it wasn’t just me being blind. The first one that I found was a juvenile about an inch long at a well-known dive site named Madivaru. Normally famous for Manta rays, this particular day there were none and the guests were a bit disappointed. Not me though! After that first one, we began seeing them more regularly, so maybe it was simply a case of getting the eye in.
Leaf-fish are part of the scorpionfish family in that they have toxic spines running down the dorsal fin. Like the other scorpionfishes, this is basically a lie-in-wait predator for small fishes and shrimp that get a bit too close. The mouth opens extrememly wide sucking the prey in. My recent Lionfish pictures also show this movement. The skin on Leaf-fishes are not the ‘normal’ scales found on most fish. They molt or change skin about every 2 weeks or so. Perhaps this is due to sitting still for so long- other organisms such as hydroids start to grow on the skin, so perhaps this is a way of getting rid of them.
Laamu Atoll seems to have a disproportionate number of Leaf-fishes- on one section of the House Reef, we’ve counted 6- all within a short distance of each other, and all at a depth of around 6m. We see them regularly on a few other reefs but by contrast, true Scorpionfishes are rare and we’ve seen only one Stonefish- and that was far in the south of the atoll. I’d love to know why this is.
Anyway- I know I’ve photographed this shot many times before…. but this one is completely different- it has a black background This comes from using a very fast shutter speed… and spending a few minutes in Lightroom tidying the edges. Hope you enjoy.
Let there be light…
…and welcome to my friend named ‘Backscatter’. After a long time of gear-lusting we finally dropped some $$ in to a strobe light for our trusty Canon S95. Inon make quality strobes and one of the smallest on offer is the S-2000. Right now we’re in the low season so I can get some practice in. Here is my friendly lionfish again. Sometimes called ‘turkey-fish’, in my opinion they look like a Philippines’ fighting cock. With the strobe badly positioned you can see balls of reflected light; this is called backscatter and it will become my nemesis I believe. Special thanks go to an old colleague Ting who picked up the strobe while on vacation in Taiwan. Thanks Ting!
Yesterday I tried out a new bit of photography- surfing photos. It was actually really difficult but I managed to get a couple of decent shots. The waves were ‘fun size’ and as you can see from the picture on the left, the waves break on to a fairly shallow reef. It was an interesting morning and special thanks go to Dan and Mike for allowing me to use these shots.
Some people may be wondering why there are so many macro (small animal) photos on our blog. To make a long story short- big fish move too much for me to get a decent picture! I am fairly new to underwater photography but have the leisure and pleasure to have a tropical reef on my doorstep. Macro photography normally concentrates on either slow or non-moving animals, or fish that have a predictable range of movement.
As you may have noticed in your garden, slugs are not terribly good at running away at the first signs of danger. Underwater slugs often have some radical colourings to deter potential predators. Black, white and yellow colour combinations are often used in the animal world to advertise that they may sting or taste bad. Wasps and bees do the same thing. Stripes are also used by underwater animals such as sea snakes and lionfish such as this wee guy below.
I feel like getting all poetic so I shall name this shot: Lion in the Desert.
Yesterday Jude and I went for an exploration to some new dive sites… as well as one of our favourites at Mundhoo Kandu where we caught up with our friend ‘David’ the Goliath Grouper. I was really happy to see him again, this time hanging out with a few ‘bigeye trevally’ under the southern overhang. Light was problematic at such depth which you can see from these pictures.
On hindsight I should have tried a few different shutter settings to try darken the blue water- the trade off though with increasing shutter speed is the need to open the aperture resulting in some fuzzy pictures sometimes.
I was happy to have Jude modelling which she loves about as much as a fish loves a bicycle.
The second shot was supposed to have Jude in it… but she was a few meters deeper. Mundhoo Kandu’s approach from the south is a real delight in shallow water. There was very little current bowever there was definitely some surge to contend with in the top 6 meters. The reef shot was taken at about 10 meters. The final shot is a Oriental Sweetlips with a cleaner wrasse doing the rounds.
For a long time I have been trying hard to get a decent shot of the little juvenile razor wrasse that we find in the lagoon. It takes a long time of waiting idly by before one can approach close enough to get a shot. If you move in too quickly they disappear in to the sandy substrate and are content to wait there until you finally move away.
The juvenile Razor Wrasse has a really cool appendage on its head. I don’t know if it serves a real purpose or it it is just there to break the outline of the fish itself helping it to mimic bits of leaf- much like the juvenile batfish.
Around the same area was a huge warty slug- one of the biggest I have seen. Very toxic they display their colours proudly.
Just to let you know that we are finalising our new rates for the 1st of September.
The rates you will find on these pages are available until the 31st of August, meaning if you come after the 31st of August, the new rates will apply.
Some things will stay the same, some even will be cheaper. Of course, most prices will go a little up as well, we can not stay on the “first year special prices” for ever.
However, we might have some surprises!
I’ll keep you updated 🙂