Misool, The Crown Jewel of Indonesia


I recently spent a few weeks scuba diving in the southern part of Raja Ampat on the tiny island of Batbitim.  At just three and a half kilometers in circumference, this island is not only a stellar diving destination, but it also hosts the luxurious Misool Eco Resort, while maintaining an eco-friendly environment.  I was so impressed with the resort and the conservation work they are doing there that I wanted to share a little bit about it.

The beauty and serenity of the resort itself is apparent as soon as you arrive. The island of Batbitim lies about four hours south by boat from the nearest port. It lies among other uninhabited islands and is about twenty miles from the nearest local village. Each guest enjoys their own cottage on the water, or residence on the beach. You can walk down the stairs from your front patio right in to the water for snorkeling or swimming.

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 Although the diving in this area of Indonesia is astounding, I believe it is the accomplishments of the resort itself that make this destination truly remarkable.  Just ten years ago, this island’s bay was a place where fishermen came to fin sharks.  Because the bay is a black tip reef shark nursery, that included juvenile as well as adult sharks.  Misool bought the island and has since successfully turned it into a marine sanctuary.  In fact, they have lobbied to make the entire location a marine protected area and now protect more than 1200 square kilometers.  This is policed and enforced by the local island population with great success.  The bio-mass has been documented since 2006 and in this particular area, it has a richer density and diversity than anywhere else in Raja Ampat.

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

Another great accomplishment of Misool Eco Resort, is the minimal environmental impact they have.  Everything from the cottages to the furniture are made from materials found on the island, with no trees being cut down to build with.  Fresh water is obtained through desalination, they generate their own electricity, and they recycle the gray water through the roots of a beautiful garden where it is naturally filtered.

All this is accomplished while maintaining the highest level of service and luxury in the industry.  The local islanders work on the island, the food is delicious and plentiful and the guest list is small.  In addition to scuba diving, guests can enjoy snorkeling, Stand Up Paddle boards, kayaking, local excursions and more.

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It is the scuba diving and the photo opportunities that draw visitors from all over the world.  Raja Ampat is known for its beautiful soft corals and colorful fish.

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The image above was taken at a site called Boo Window. There are two swim-throughs close to the surface that look like the eyes of a ghost. One of the “eyes” is partially covered by the gorgonian fan, but you can see why the site got its name. I asked my guide, Marfal, to show me critters such as the Raja Ampat pygmy seahorse which is found only in Southern Raja Ampat. Everything I asked to see, he found without fail.

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

I even mused that what I really wanted was a shot of a giant manta hovering above the colorful reef, to which he replied, “Okay.”

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Truly, Misool Eco Resort is one of those fantasy destinations that most people only dream about.  I can tell you that I will be dreaming about it for a long time to come.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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Scuba Diving Under the Oil Rigs


A big Thank You to Dive Photo Guide for publishing my article on scuba diving under the oil rigs.  I am truly honored to be featured!  To read the article, click HERE.

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As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Underwater Photography 101: Lightroom’s Local Tools


Creative Cloud has announced their 2015 update to Adobe products and among them is a cool update to the local tools in Lightroom.  I’m talking about one of my favorite new tools, “Dehaze.”  For the past few months, this tool has been a global tool residing in the “Effects” module (where it can still be found).  But now, it can also be found under the “adjustment brush” in the local tools module.  For a video tutorial of how to use some of the local tools for underwater photography, click on the image below.

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If you have questions, or suggestions for underwater photography tips, please feel free to leave comments below.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 or D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

 

Fun Facts about the Cuttlefish


Of all the interesting creatures in the sea, the cuttlefish has to be one of the most unusual.  Though it bears the name “fish,” it isn’t a fish at all, but a cephalopod, which includes creatures such as octopus, squid, and nautiluses. The Cuttlefish wears its shell on the inside and is called a cuttlebone.  This bone is used to help keep the cuttlefish neutrally bouyant.  Many bird owners buy cuttlefish bones at pet supply stores for their birds to sharpen their beaks on.  One of the remarkable things about cuttlefish, is their ability to blend in.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This little guy is a fraction of the size of the cuttlefish in the above picture.  No bigger than my thumb, it also takes on the color and texture of its surroundings.

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One of the amazing things about this Cephalopod, is watching it feed.  It has a very long “tongue” that slowly protrudes from it’s mouth until it is a fraction of an inch from it’s pray, then it quickly grabs it’s food and reels it in, in the blink of an eye.

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The male and female pair below are courting.  A male cuttlefish has four pairs of tentacles, while a female has three.  Sometimes younger or weaker males may try to hide one of their pairs of tentacles by tucking them in so that they can approach a female unnoticed by other dominant males.  When they mate, the male places a sperm sack inside the mouth of the female with one of his tentacles.  She saves it until she is ready to fertilize her eggs.

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One of the most exciting cuttlefish is the Flamboyant cuttlefish.  This one doesn’t try to blend in at all.  On the contrary, they are as colorful as can be, hence their appropriate name.  Sometimes their colors will undulate so that it looks like its white stripe is moving down its body.  They often hold up the two front tentacles in a “boxing” stance if they are feeling threatened.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810  in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

All Things Bright and Beautiful


It is no secret that I enjoy photographing the little things.  This hydro-sapien loves being able to see and share, the almost microscopic world that exists under water, with land dwellers.  I have a deep appreciation for all creatures, and so, as I have been contemplating how to share some of the tiny critters I recently encountered, Cecil Frances Alexander’s words keep coming to mind.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.–Cecil Frances Alexander

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“All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small” immediately brings to mind the fabulous nudibranchs that I search for on every dive.  Lately, in California, we have seen a scarcity of these critters.  In the past few weeks, however, I have seen lots of nudibranch eggs, and lots of tiny nudibranchs.  The image above is of a Hopkins Rose (Okenia rosacea, a nudibranch measuring about 1cm.  It is not the most common, but I definitely think it is one of the most beautiful.  Below is a Porter’s Chromodorid (Mexichromis porterae about 2cm long).

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Since there are many very small nudibranchs right now, I have mostly photographed critters less than 1cm. This tiny Three -lined Aeolid (Flabellina trilineata) was only 5 or 6 millimeters long.

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And its look-alike cousin, the Horned Aeolid (Hermissendra crassicornis,) was about the same size, although both species can get up to 36mm or larger.

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And on an even smaller scale, I have spent a good amount of time looking through the seaweed for isopods and larvae.  This tiny critter is just a few millimeters.

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Some of my favorites are the skeleton shrimp, isopods that aren’t really shrimp, but bear the nickname because of their hilarious antics and the way they move around. They look like animated skeletons.  This one is pregnant with eggs, and when they hatch, the babies will cling to her body until they are nearly half her size.

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You may have to look closely to see them in the image below;  Momma is covered with her offspring clinging to her antenea, back, jaw, and every other appendage.

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Another fun find for me this week was a family of decorator crabs.  They were very hard to photograph because of the movement of the water, and all the fish that were desperately trying to take a bite of them while I exposed them to the camera. They are covered in all kinds of growth such as sponges, anemones and hydroids.  You can see the one below if you look for it’s eye which is about a third of the way down and a third of the way over from the right.  It looks like it has a long nose made of a white flowering plant with a brown leaf.  This one was less than a square centimeter.

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With the exception of the skeleton shrimp with all her babies, all these images were taken in the last few weeks in California.  The ocean is coming alive again after several months of quiet time.  I am thrilled to see all the new life and awed by the creatures great and small living in the waters of the California coast.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here atwaterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Underwater Photography 101: “Clean it Up!” (Dealing with Backscatter)


Most photographers don’t worry too much about dust particles floating in the air in front of their subjects, but in underwater photography, particles in the water is one of our main concerns.  It may be difficult for both beginning and advanced underwater photographers to get an image with a clean background. By “clean,”  I mean that the water around the subject is not full of little white specks. This is known as “backscatter.” Backscatter happens when particles in the water reflect the light from your strobes back towards your camera lens. If the water has a lot of particulate in it, you could get a lot of backscatter.  Here are a few tips to help eliminate backscatter.

#1:  Pull it back

Some images get a lot of backscatter because the strobes are too far forward and the beam of the strobe is directly lighting all the particles in front of your lens. It might appear as a flare on one or both sides of the image, or just look like a lot of white specks all over your image.

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In this selfie, the strobe on the right of the image was behind the dome port and turned out, but the one on the left of the image was a little forward of the dome port and turned toward the subject. The strobe on the left lit up all the particles in the water to the left of the subject. It is obvious that this could have been avoided if the left strobe had been pulled back further, as illustrated by the strobe on the right, which is not lighting any particles.

In the following image, look at where the strobe is placed in relation to the dome port. It is pulled back so that it’s light does not go through the dome. This image is meant to demonstrates how far back your strobes should be behind your dome port.

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#2:  Turn it out!

The next image is a diagram of the beam angle of the strobes. (You will need to check your own strobes to see what the beam angle is, but it is usually less than 100 degrees.) Imagine that the strobes are turned out slightly, so that the angle of your beam (shown in yellow) from each strobe meets in front of your dome port. If you position your strobes so that the beam meets where your subject is, the area that is not lit should not show any particles. Ideally, you want the light from your strobes to light only the subject, and not the water in front of the subject to reduce the chances of lighting up particulate in the water. You can adjust this angle by turning your strobes further out, or by moving them out away from your housing.

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Sometimes, you just get a bit of backscatter no matter what you try. Minor backscatter can be eliminated in post-processing. There are numerous ways to remove backscatter from otherwise great images. I will show you one method I use in Adobe Lightroom CC  when I have a background that is black, and a different method I use in Adobe Photoshop CC when I have blue water with backscatter in it.  Just click on the title or image below to watch a “How To” video.

How to remove backscatter from a black background using this great trick in Adobe Lightroom!

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How to remove backscatter from blue water using this great trick in Adobe Photoshop!

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If you have questions, or suggestions for underwater photography tips, please feel free to leave comments below.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Flashback Thursday- A Nudiphile Episode


It’s no secret that I have a serious slug crush on nudibranchs.  So for Flashback Thursday, I thought I would just share some of my favorite nudibranch images.

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The cryptic nudibranchs are the most interesting to me.  I love the translucence of this one.  For the full article see “Cryptic, A Nudiphile Episode

California has its share of beautiful nudibranchs.  This Hermissendra crassicornis was just a tiny juvenile about half an inch long.

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

Here is an adult Hermissendra crassicornis:  (See “Are you a Nudiphile?”)

Hermissendra crassicornis

Hermissendra crassicornis

My all-time favorite is Placida cremoniana, a nudibranch I discovered in Southern California last year, which has since disappeared from California waters.  (See “Love Affair, A Nudiphile Episode.”  And also  “Slug Bug! Another Nudiphile Episode “)

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

Some of the prettiest nudis come from Anilao, Philippines.  (See “Are you a Nudiphile 2?“)

Hypselodoris kangas

Hypselodoris kangas

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If you enjoy these images, you can get the full story by clicking on any of the “nudiphile” links above.

 

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me