For a while I was a little worried that I was getting better aerial shots than underwater shots on this trip, so a day of no flying meant I could really think about underwater and concentrate fully on that. This was our last day of diving with Richard at Unique Dive Expeditions before we get onto the live aboard. Richard has looked after us superbly but whilst land based diving is great, live board diving is much better for concentrated photography. Eat, sleep and dive is the order of the day!
We dived Dexter’s Wall, which is next to Blue Corner, where the green turtles come to sleep on the reef. The greens are the ones with the beautiful shells and are not so common on most dive sites, but here I saw ten or more in an hour. It was a wonderful dive, and although we joked before jumping in that we all wanted our own turtle to photograph, in fact we could each have had two. They were very relaxed and if you approach carefully could get them right on the dome port without disturbing them. I shot silhouettes against the sun, without the sun against snell’s window, from above to show off the beautiful shell, right on the domeport to look into their deeply sorrowful eyes. Every shot I could think of, all on one dive.
It was a beautiful day in Palau today. No wind, glass calm ocean, blue sky with white fluffy clouds. We got blown off the snapper spawning site due to the current but grasslands was a lovely dive with a school of barracuda and a couple of blacktip sharks cruising around them.
We spent a long surface interval swimming and taking split shots of the reef and the rock islands while Andy and I flew over the islands and took aerial images. I haven’t had much time to process my underwater shots yet but the aerials are quick and easy to do.
We were up early for the snapper spawning dives this morning and were in the water by 8am. There was a little more current today and that involved a lot more swimming as the snapper spawned in the blue as opposed to on the reef, but I managed to get right in the middle of it again with the fish flying up around me like fireworks. Photographically it wasn’t so good for me, but as an experience it was wonderful.
We then dived Blue Corner and German Channel, both of which are signature dives for Palau. The current wasn’t strong enough for magical shark action but it was still great diving. Then a couple of hours in Jellyfish Lake, which had far more jellies than the last time I was there. That was lots of fun, floating around in the lukewarm water with the jellyfish pulsing all around us.
Palau might not be the easiest place to get to, but after an eleven hour flight from Singapore with a short layover in Seoul, we are back in paradise. Being paradise it is of course hot and sweaty, with occasional showers, but the sea is a balmy 30°C and the snappers are spawning in virtually no current. The first dive of the day at 6:30am was to see the snapper spawning and they put on a magnificent show. There were a few sharks around predating on the odd unwary fish, but the main action was thousands of fish over half a meter long madly rushing for the surface and mating. The sea was a fog of gametes, not necessarily the nicest thing to swim through, but it’s worth it to see one of natures greatest spectacles.
I went for a quick flight with Andy in the afternoon, and as I got up in the air and started to shoot a rain shower hit. Not too bad, but enough to cut short the flight as drones are not really waterproof, as I have discovered a number of times to my detriment.
Flying across central Australia today on the way up to Singapore, the plane flew right across Ayers Rock on a clear sunny day. On the other side is the great expanse of Lake Amadeus, which reminded me a little of the islands in the South Pacific.
Last day in Hawai’i and it was a little too windy to fly today, plus the beach was much busier and I don’t fly when there are people around. So I took some normal photos instead. This is right in front of the house, and it’s about half the size of the swell hitting 500m up the beach but I just couldn’t be bothered to walk that far.
It is almost the end of the holiday in Hawai’i and the surf is just starting to pick up. It’s predicted to be 3m or so off Pipeline tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to seeing it. As I write this I can hear the huge shore dump slamming onto the beach about 40m away from the house.
I took a few aerial shots of the shore dump hitting the beach. It’s quite dramatic. I think I’ll try from a little closer tomorrow morning.
We met up with Frank again this morning and took a long drive all across the south east end of Oahu, from Honolulu out to Makapu’u Point. I was planning on doing some flying but the trade winds were blowing pretty hard so I decided against it. Instead I took some infra red shots everywhere we stopped, as we wound our way along the coast. It is very beautiful and incredibly photogenic. The shot below is a small temple made of lava rocks, laid out in a secluded area of the coast, with Rabbit Island in the background.
We drove around to the western side of the island this morning to meet an old diving buddy, Frank, whom I haven’t seen for about three years. He told us to get there early so we could swim out and find the spinner dolphins that cruise around the drop off in the mornings. It was a decent swim out there, about five hundred meters off the beach, but we were rewarded with great dolphin encounters as the pod was atlas fifty individuals, maybe more, with a few babies. They were quite calm, and came close to you if you didn’t swim towards them. I borrowed Frank’s Canon 7D and hopefully got some good shots but I can’t download them until I get home as I don’t have a CF card reader. They looked OK on the back of the camera screen.
We drove north a little bit for a look see. The west is much less built up and the beaches are beautiful. It is drier and less windy as it is the leeward side of the island. I took the Phantom up for a quick flight and I think it would be fun to really explore more around the area as it is quite different from the windward eastern side of the island.
It has taken until our third trip to Hawai’i to visit Pearl Harbour, not because I didn’t want to go, but every time I have looked into it, the thought of the crowds and the queues and the waiting around always put me off. However, Evelyn booked it so we went this morning and it was a very pleasant surprise. There were plenty of people, but the organisation and the ease of getting around, with no waiting and everything running like clockwork made the trip a delight. It was especially nice to meet two Pearl Harbour survivors, both in their mid nineties, who sat outside and flirted with the ladies whilst under the guise of signing their books. There were very chatty and spent time with each person waiting in line for them, offering to have their photos taken with everyone.
We went across to Lanikai for lunch at friends of Evelyn and Marty. They have a house on a hill, a couple of minutes stroll to the beach. The view over the lagoon from their lanai (balcony/outside living area) was exceptional, with the trade winds gently blowing to cool us down. I only had my infra red camera with me today, as I fancied a change and some stark black and white, but I am happy with the way the panorama of their view came out, especially the clouds.