After years of diving I feel I am finally starting to understand the complexity of night diving and learning the behaviors of the creatures I am searching for. Fireworms, for example, can be found in great numbers in the shallows where fishermen toss their fish scraps overboard, so I tend to dive under these fishing boats at night. This photo was shot at such a dive site called “Something Special” in Bonaire. When diving with ultraviolet lights, I use a handheld “searchlight” and first locate my subject. Once located I turn out all the lights and get into position, then relocate my subject hovering inches above it trying to take just one photo as light will often scare or cause creatures like anemones and coral polyps to quickly close. I’ve always been drawn to the fine details of macro photography and find that covering a smaller section of reef on any given dive is better than trying to see it all.
How I got the shot
Like most night dives, especially in Bonaire, you will be visited by giant fish called tarpon which will use your lights to hunt other fish. These five to seven foot giants park themselves right next to you, giving the whole night dive an extra challenge. I usually have to gently push them out of the way in order to get into position for my shot. Most new divers find them quite frightening, but I tend to ignore them. Ocean currents are also common problems, but staying low on the reef and swimming into the current seems to help a lot. That and mastering your buoyancy skills are often all you need to overcome this. When shooting fireworms, try to find ones that are crawling on a beautiful background and avoid shooting them on non-fluorescent sand.
What I used
I used a Nikon D-810 inside an IKELITE underwater housing. I used two IKELITE DS-161 substrobes (set on full power), complete with IKELITE UV barrier / bluelight stobe covers and yellow mask cover. I used a vintage Nikon 60mm 2.8 lens, shot at 1/160 second, f/10, ISO 800 and shot on manual settings.
After 15 years in Curacao I am now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where my new interests are shooting Santa Fe-style doors, petroglyphs, ruins, cactus flowers and anything historical, which I post on photosnm.com. My passion for this hobby started back in the early 1990’s when I was traveling to different national parks and monuments on assignment from different post card companies trying to get that perfect requested shot. I purchased my first underwater housing in 2004, which immediately consumed my time and energy.
Most people don’t know I have a background in paleontology and spent 20 years digging and preparing fossils for museums and private collectors all over the globe. I currently have a double Didymoceras stevonsoni sitting on a giant clam on display in the Denver Museum of Natural History and have fossils on display in museums all over the world. I also built the 2006 UCI World Cup mountain bike course on the island of Curacao and have raced and tested mountain bikes for most of my life. It’s a great way to stay in shape for diving!
My photographic journey
I have always compared nature photography to surfing but, instead of always searching for that one perfect wave, we are always trying to capture that one perfect photo or moment in time. I have always been inspired by the works of Thomas Wiewandt. His work has always motivated me to keep trying new methods of photography, learn animal behavior, and think out of the box.
NANPA and me
I first joined NANPA in 2012 after flooding a camera and needed to find insurance. Through NANPA I found a Chubb Inland Marine Policy that would cover all my gear from any more mishaps. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to place in or have my photos make it into the top 250 of the NANPA Showcase nature photography competition. It’s always an honor to be part of this amazing organization.