Something else I haven’t done for a few months; take to the air. Sadly droning, in my opinion, is not as much fun as it used to be. There are now rules and regulations in place, quite rightly I believe, to stop anyone with a few hundred bucks from buying one and flying irresponsibly anywhere they want to. Of course this makes it much harder for those of us that have been flying for years and has somewhat taken the enjoyment away from flying. I rarely fly anywhere that other people are nowadays, as I’d like to be able to enjoy it. This means I don’t fly that much, but when I do I still love it.
I had to update the firmware as the versions have changed quite a few times in the past few months. Still the DJI Mavic flew like a champion and I’m pretty happy with this view over Natai Beach as a rain squall comes up from the north.
It’s been a while since I posted anything and I haven’t had a camera in my hand for most of that time. I’m not sure why but today I went out to the pool with Isaac and took my little Sony RX100v with me. It’s a great little camera and if it helps me get back into the swing of taking shots again then that will be a result.
Today is the last day of diving before steaming back to Sorong and flying out back to Australia. We dived Cape Kri first which was really a pretty basic site but saved by a huge school of jacks in the deeper water just off the reef. Second dive was at Mike’s Point which was a nice way to end the trip.
We motored north during the night towards Kawe, but the swell was quite large and Eagle Rock, our intended dive site, was totally exposed, so we headed for shelter in West Waigeo Island at a dive site called Edi’s Black Forest. It was raining most of the morning so I decided on macro instead of wide angle. I haven’t had too much success with macro on this trip but managed to find a whip coral shrimp and spent a little time getting him to fill the frame.
It stayed overcast and rainy for most of today; we finished the day back in Yangeffo and dived Mayhem, which was a nice site but really could have used some sunlight to brighten up the scenery a little.
The stand out dive for me today was the first dive of the day at Citrus Ridge. The days have been starting out overcast and even a little rainy, but clear up nicely to sunshine in the afternoons. Today was like that and we dived Citrus Ridge in a building current and clearing skies. I have dived this site a few times before but today was the best. The soft corals were in full bloom in the raging current and although it was tough to photograph it was very beautiful to see.
We woke to a gloomy overcast day in The Dampier Straits but slowly over the course of the day the sun came out and by the end of the day I was able to fly over Mioskon Island and shoot the reef clearly visible through the water. This was the first flight after my tree incident and the Phantom flew perfectly. Luckily, so did I.
One of the great things about this trip has been spending some time with Phil, a diving friend from way back. We share a birthday and the same haircut. Phil was supposed to be on the last two dive trips I have been on but a battle with cancer kept him out of the water. He’s back on The Damai and diving again, with a few extra scars, but loving life. When I get pissed off because I had a crappy dive and couldn’t get any shots, I think of Phil. Sometimes it’s great to just be in the middle of no where and looking at the fish. Here’s Phil shooting the same school of fish as me. I’m getting in his way and he’s getting in mine. Just like old times. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
We are making our way along the north of the Bird’s Head Peninsular at the top of Irian Jaya from Cenderawasih Bay to Raja Ampat and The Dampier Straits. We should be in Dampier tomorrow and hopefully good diving. We stopped at midday today at a dive site called The Junkyard which consists of a collection of WWII equipment, landing crafts and old boats, sunk at the end of the war in about twenty meters of water. It wasn’t supposed to be a great dive so we all had macro lenses on but as soon as we got down there and had a look around it was obvious we had made the wrong choice. The pile of equipment was covered with soft corals and gorgonian fans of every size and shape. It formed a beautiful backdrop for wide angle images and there was a big school of yellow snappers swimming over it, plus a school of batfish roaming the site.
I did consider coming out and changing lenses and after the dive Phil told me he was thinking I would have done it. I really should have. It’s not as if I will come here again as on this trip there are too many long passages as the boat makes it way from a season at Cenderawasih Bay over to Raja Ampat for the next few months. I don’t think I will choose a trip that involves moving from one place to the other again. Too much non-diving time, although it is great to spend time with a group of friends I don’t see enough of.
We steamed north overnight on the way to Raja Ampat. It’s a long journey so we will be doing it over a couple of days. We stopped for a couple of dives at Manim Island where there are a number of WWII landing craft now covered in corals at various depths from five to thirty meters. It was a good spot to shoot small creatures so I kept the macro lens on.
The rest of the afternoon was spent processing images on the dining table.
We had a bit of an average dive today off Matas Island, saved by Steph finding a giant red frogfish. After lunch I flew the drone over the P-38 planes crashed in two meters of water off the beach. All was going well until I flew backwards into the trees on the island. We rushed over in the tender and tracked the lost Phantom with the GPS in the app through the thick jungle full of spiders and huge red bull ants. It was stuck over twenty five meters up in a tree, and while I went back to the boat to get a machete, one of the crew shinned up the tree and rescued it. I really didn’t expect to be able to fly again this holiday, but it is working just fine, although it has some nice green stains on the propellors as war wounds.
The second day of whale shark action was much the same as the first except the sky was overcast all day, which ruined the idea of taking images with sun beams streaming through the afternoon light under the bagan. We still had a great time though and at the end of the day had five whale sharks coming up to feed. There is a certain point where one can’t think of any more ways to shoot the same scene and then that’s when the hilarity starts.