Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!


I’ve always wanted to be an award-winning person. It hasn’t ever mattered what the award was for, as long as it was something I earned and had some kind of value.  Well, I recently participated in the Monterey Shootout.  Now, a shootout is a photography contest that is restricted by time and/or location.  In this case, this contest was restricted to 36 hours and photographs had to be taken under water in Monterey, California.  Participants could submit up to six photographs in four categories.

Anemone, 1st place under water wide angle unrestricted
Anemone, 1st place under water wide angle unrestricted

The photograph above was entered in the unrestricted wide angle category.  This means that the photograph could have some changes made to it via photo editing software.  In this case, I removed a few fish that were facing the wrong way. I believe the photo is also cropped by five percent.

Starfish and schooling fish, 1st place underwater wide angle traditional

Starfish and schooling fish, 1st place underwater wide angle traditional

Anemone, 2nd place under water wide angle  traditional

Anemone, 2nd place under water wide angle traditional

The two photos (above) were entered in the wide angle traditional category.  This means that the photograph could have only a few global changes to it.  In both cases, I bumped up the contrast slightly, and made minor brightness and color enhancements.  These are pretty much straight out of the camera.

Nudibranch, 1st place in under water macro unrestricted

Nudibranch, 1st place in under water macro unrestricted

This nudibranch image (above) is my favorite from the shootout.  It was entered in the macro unrestricted category, although I needn’t have made any changes to it.  I removed three small dots of backscatter (particles in the water that show up as white spots), and increased the contrast.  I had to wait for this slow moving slug to get into position, but it was worth the wait.

Top Snail.  3rd place winner in Underwater Macro, Traditional
Top Snail. 3rd place winner in Underwater Macro, Traditional

Finally, two more traditional macro shots.  The one above is a photograph of a top snail.  They are so beautiful for a snail that is only the size of my thumbnail.   The photograph below is of a hermit crab that really didn’t like my focus light shining in its eyes.  After this shot, it turned away from me and refused to show it’s face to me again.

Hermit Crab.  2nd place winner in Under water Macro Traditional

Hermit Crab. 2nd place winner in Under water Macro Traditional

In this contest, points were given for each photograph that placed.  Then the points were added up.  Those photographers with the highest number of points were able to choose their prize first.  Because all six of my photographs received a place, I had the highest number of points, so I had the good fortune of being first to pick my prize.  There were lots of fantastic prizes!  They offered several different dive vacations, as well as dive gear, camera equipment, and gift certificates.  I chose the top prize:  a 7 night stay at Misool Eco Resort  in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.  I look forward to diving there and taking many more photographs!

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Are you a Nudiphile 2?


In the early months of this blog, I wrote about my obsession with nudibranchs.  I had discovered that I favored browsing the internet for photographs of nudibranchs, which led to the realization that I was a nudiphile.  Since that time, I have gone into underwater therapy  a number of times to see if perhaps I could be persuaded by other critters.  But no, the tendency only worsened.  The sluggish things are so colorful and charming.  They seem to smile at the camera and I just can’t help but stop to photograph them.

Pikachu Nudibranch  AKA Thecacera picta

Pikachu Nudibranch AKA Thecacera picta

This little lovely (above) is known as a Pokeman or Pikachu nudibranch.  It belongs to the Dorid family.  They are about an inch long and are one of the more interesting slugs in the sea.

Hypselodoris kangas
Hypselodoris kangas

This colorful Hypselodoris was the only one of it’s kind to grace me with it’s presence.  For some reason, it reminds me of a clown, although less humorous and more refined.  Perhaps it is a French clown.

Chromodoris (similar to Willan's Chromodoris)

Chromodoris (similar to Willan’s Chromodoris)

Here a Chromodoris appears to be wearing a jeweled crown.

Batangas Halgerda

Batangas Halgerda

One of the amazing things about nudibranchs is their ability to blend in with their environment, or their ability to stand out in their environment.  This Batangas Halgerda does a little of both.  It’s body stands out, while it’s rhinophores and gill branches resemble plants in it’s environment.

Hypselodoris
Hypselodoris

These two breeding hypselodoris are wonderful to photograph because of their creamy pinkish coloring that looks like glass.

Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium  (Phyllodesmium briareum)

Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium (Phyllodesmium briareum)

Unfortunately for this Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium, it is a tasty meal for fish.  Most nudibranchs seem to be left alone perhaps because their remarkable coloring announces they might sting or be poisonous.

Halgerda Reticulidia  (Reticulidia halgerda)

Halgerda Reticulidia (Reticulidia halgerda)

Here’s an interesting specimen.  Hey, you got a bug on your face!

Solar Powered Phylledesmium  (Phyllodesmium longicirrum)

Solar Powered Phylledesmium (Phyllodesmium longicirrum)

Here’s another example of a “blender.”  It looks so much like the soft corals in it’s environment, that you have to search for the rhinophores to determine if it is a coral or nudibranch.  Of course, the corals don’t crawl.

Twin Chromodoris  (Chromodoris geminus)

Twin Chromodoris (Chromodoris geminus)

This guy has a mantle that flaps up and down as it crawls across the sea bed.  So intriguing to watch, it is no wonder my fetish for sea slugs is only growing.  Admit it.  You are a closet nudiphile too.

It’s the little things….


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”  Maybe the Sherlock Holmes in me agrees and that is why I am fascinated by the little things.  In this post are some of the tiniest things I have found in the ocean.  All of them are smaller than one or two centimeters, and some of them I can’t explain.

Juvenile Frogfish

Juvenile Frogfish

This is a juvenile frogfish.  It was no bigger than my thumbnail.  They “hop” around on their front “legs” like a frog.  As they get older, they take on the coloring of their environment and become almost invisible to predators and their prey.

_DSC4104-Edit

Here a ghost shrimp poses on a Red Gorgonian.  Only 5 mm or so, I could not see it without a magnifying lens._DSC3132

The tube worms (above and below) are about two centimeters when their plumes are fully open.

_DSC2456-Recovered

The Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) is a highly prized subject to photograph because of it’s super camouflage and general cuteness.  This one was about a centimeter in length.

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies.  It can get up to 3/4 inch.  They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies. It can get up to 3/4 inch. They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is the nudibranch.  This one is known as a California Chromodorid (or Hypselodoris californiensis).  Although they can get up to 90 mm, this one was no longer than 10 mm.

_DSC4140-Edit

A colorful Simnia (Delonovolva aequalis) lays eggs along the stem of a red gorgonian (below).  It’s shell is around two cm long.  If not for the eggs, it would have been very difficult to see, as it blends nicely with it’s environment.

snail

Sometimes, things show up in photographs by accident.  In the two photos below, I had another subject in mind, but when I blew up the image on the computer screen, I discovered tiny creatures.  The first one is obviously a shrimp, about 2mm in length.  The second is anyone’s guess.  Just critters that resemble bugs.  They are marked with arrows, and are less than 2mm.

2mm shrimp-15 _DSC4099-sm

 In this case, the Sherlock in me gives way to Doris Lessing who said, “Small things amuse small minds.”  She may be right.

 

 

Is it Bigger than a Breadbox?


Is it Bigger than a Breadbox?

If you have never been scuba diving, it might be hard to put in to perspective the size of the unusual creatures that are found under the sea. The Peltodoris nobilis (Noble Dorid) might look bigger than a bread box compared to other nudibranchs. They average in size around two inches, but can get up to 8 inches long!

By comparison, this dorid, Okenia rosacea (Hopkin's Rose,) is only about a half an inch long and could fit between the rhinophores of the Noble Dorid.  It's papillae are very tall, and  make it difficult to see it's branchial plume.  Both these dorids are found in Southern California.

By comparison, this dorid, Okenia rosacea (Hopkin’s Rose,) is only about a half an inch long and could fit between the rhinophores of the Noble Dorid. It’s papillae are very tall, and make it difficult to see it’s branchial plume. Both these dorids are found in Southern California.

Hermit crabs are a favorite for photographers.  Their eyes are curious and expressive (for a crab).  This one's shell measures about 1 inch long.

Hermit crabs are a favorite for photographers. Their eyes are curious and expressive (for a crab). This one’s shell measures about 1 inch long.

This slipper lobster is roughly the size of a salad plate.  It isn't a tiny creature, but it is far smaller than a breadbox!

This slipper lobster is roughly the size of a salad plate. It isn’t a tiny creature, but it is far smaller than a breadbox!

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies.  It can get up to 3/4 inch.  They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.

This Hippocampus bargibanti (Pygmy Seahorse) is one of the tiniest creatures in the sea, although this particular seahorse is one of the largest of the Pygmies. It can get up to 3/4 inch. They have amazing camouflage and are almost impossible to find on the sea fans they inhabit.