DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Transition. Part Three: Fuck it, I’m going swimming.



This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.


Around the time I became a convert to small cameras, I started scuba diving a lot. Obviously the two things would eventually meet and I’d get hooked on shooting underwater photos. I was torn because underwater photography is probably the most expensive form of photography I can think of, and it’s also incredibly difficult and prone to disaster. The thing about taking electronics a hundred feet underwater is that, well, they get flooded and ruined. A lot.

So this it how I found myself spending way more money on photography. I started off by getting a cheap housing for an Olympus Point and shoot that I had, and then moved onto a more expensive housing and strobe for the Canon G9. That was a really good rig to learn with and I managed to get some great shots with it. Eventually of course, I reached the end of the road and made the decision to house a DSLR.

What I learned with underwater photography is that it’s one of the most difficult environments to make an image, and when something spectacular is in front of you, you need a lot of really good tools to make sure you nail the shot. So small cameras didn’t last, but along the way I learned a lot.

Enjoy some shots from my underwater photo journey.

Dano

ps: click on the photos for larger versions.

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A shot from the old Olympus with a grouper in front of a wreck.
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Circling Horse-eye Jacks. Shot with the Canon G9. I loved this when I got it and still do. Sometimes the limitations of a camera help to make something unique.
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One of the craziest looking fish you will ever meet; the toadfish. Shot with the Canon g9.
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Breath hold shots with a camera rig can be tricky.
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My friend Kat over the sandy bottom. Black and white is one way to deal with the deep blue hue of ambient light underwater.
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Finally got a dslr housed, and the pictures dramatically improved. This is a giant barrel sponge on the edge of the reef wall in Belize.
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When you startle a Caribbean octopus at night, it will either hide or make itself as big as possible. Night dive in Belize.
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Macro of Coral. Repeating patterns are visually pleasing.
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Classic underwater composition with a giant barrel sponge and diver.
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I love moray eels. Whitemouth Moray from Maui.
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Nudibranchs are essentially snails, without the shell. They are small and come in myriad colours and shapes and they mostly sit still so you can take their picture.
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Balancing the flash with ambient, and then making the falloff reach an appropriate height on the mast made this one of the more challenging shots. Good thing the diver doesn’t look too goofy.
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Maui blog

Hi friends.

So as you who follow me on flickr, twitter or facebook know, I’m just back from Maui again. It gets harder to leave every time. Having said that, it was one of those trips where my priorities were pretty low on the list, lots of family and friends things on the schedule so I didn’t dive as much as I would have liked and didn’t shoot as much either. I did however, relax a lot and read a lot which are things that are sorely lacking in my day to day life. Favourite book of the trip was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

I’m continuing down a road in my travel photos that I’m finding deeply satisfying. Experiments that started in Sweden are developing into rules and themes that I feel very connected and sure about. I think that one of the things that hangs over the head of creative people sometimes is the “is this valid?” question. It’s hard to answer and if you need someone else to pat you on the head and tell you that it is, you can find yourself corrupted from your intentions by the desire to get more pats on the head. I’ve found that in the last couple years I’ve been liberated from a lot of habits born from shooting almost entirely with an editorial goal in mind. In the end, I’ve come to a place where personal satisfaction is then only validation I require.

I added to three different personal groups of work this trip as well as all the underwater stuff, which I’ll get to in a second. Until then, here are some impressions of Maui above water. If you click any of them they should open in my photoshelter gallery.

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Baldwin Park in Paia. An outtake from my “fields of play” series.
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People react to a dead sea turtle.
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Big beach
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Christmas day.
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Private property. An outtake from my “semi-natural states/coast” project.
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Who wants to go fishing?
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Palm tree from the couch.
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Beachgoers.
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Makawao plant.
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Ok, ok. One more stupid sunset.

Then we got underwater. We did some shore dives and also did some boat dives with Ed Robinson’s and B&B Scuba. If you’ve dived with either of them you know that they are both great operations. We did most of our dives at Molokini, which always provides the chance of great encounters and one dive on the St. Anthony’s wreck which I love. I should have spent more time on the surface though. It was a very short dive.

In terms of shooting, I was rusty which drives me bonkers, so hard to push yourself when you have to relearn things every time. In the end though it came together. I was shooting a single strobe, which, when it comes to balance (both underwater and in terms of lighting) was challenging. Eventually I did push my macro forward a bit, the wide angle suffered from the single strobe but I actually don’t buy into the school of thought - that is so prevalent - that says everything needs to be super evenly and completely lit. I actually think it’s a real cop out way to shoot.

So, lots of nudibranchs, no whale sharks this time. We saw a fair amount of white tip reef sharks, heard a lot of whales and saw a variety of new creatures. No boardshorts for me this time though. The water was 75 and I was in a 3/2 wetsuit. My Roatan friends have permission to laugh now.

Enjoy the set.

d.

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Waves crash over Molokini back wall.
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Blue dragon nudi.
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And another one.
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White mouth Moray.
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These guys are called Guard crabs.
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More back wall.
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Trembling nudibranch at Mala boat ramp.
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A pair of Imperial Nudibranchs
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Fried egg nudi.
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This is a painted frogfish at 5 graves.
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White margin nudi
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Gold lace Nudi. Ooooooo, pretty.
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This is a coral. An oval mushroom coral actually.
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I thought this was a dragon wrasse but it’s actually a juvenile razor wrasse.
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These fellas are everywhere.
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This was new to me. Scaly slipper lobster.
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And then home...
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Roatan dive photos - Photoshelter gallery

Check out some shots from diving in Roatan, Honduras.

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Home.

Well, I'm home. I'm pretty good at changing gears but I found it impossible to get excited about all the snow in Vancouver. I'm about to go out and walk in it, so maybe that will change my mind, but my head is still underwater.

Here are some shots from my Christmas Vacation. I hope you like them.

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Anessa and Barry watch the sun set from the Reef Gliders dock
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One of the millions of Sharpnose Pufferfish that are all over the reef
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lil buddy
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Brendan clowning around with a bottle he found.
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Spotted moray eel.
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A giant anenome in front of the blue on the reef wall.
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T checks out a preoccupied turtle. He was munching on a sponge for about 5 minutes.
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T checks out a lobster on the wall.

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This Peacock flounder was showing off his blue spots for me.
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Reef Gliders moved into a huge new shop with its own beach and dock. Nice!


And now for the real world. I'm actually excited to see all of the entrants in the Deep Winter Photo contest going on this week. I'll be judging the event and I'm not really looking forward to that. Judging photography is like deciding which puppy is cuter, everyone has an opinion and they are all correct. However, someone has to win and I'll contribute as best I can to make sure it is the right person.

Unfortunately, saying yes to this event means that I am going to miss the Greg Todds Memorial in Trout Lake this weekend. I'm really bummed about that. I hope all my friends out there have a good time, and be safe. I look forward to seeing the photos.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that is the last time you al have to hear it. On with the show...

D.

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roatan for the holidays

In between power cuts and with extremely inconsistent internet, I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Years from Roatan. Diving with Reef Gliders again and they have a new, much bigger and better spot in the West End. I've seen all sorts of old friends and met some new ones too. Saw a seahorse on my second dive, of course I never dive with my camera the first couple times after time off. Of course.

Here is a turtle. I'm already counting the days before I have to come home.

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transitions

I'm having a really hard time transitioning from the warm water and beaches of Maui to the grey cold of Vancouver. It's that time of year that is always really challenging, too early to snowboard, but already cold and wet. Roatan is sounding better all the time. Reef Gliders is moving and I can't wait to check out the new shop. I miss my friends down there and the fun times. Shooting diving photos underwater again in Maui has got me all amped on that again. It's a shame that it is so bloody expensive to get into and a tough place to sell photos. I figure it will take about another season before I have some really good underwater stuff. Not that I'm not happy with some of the things that I get down there, but I'm not as consistent as I am shooting people, or snow or whatever.

Ok, time to write a chapter for the book.


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Fishies and deep breaths.

A year ago today, I left Roatan after living there for 3 and a half months. I expected to be back there around June, but life is always interesting and you never know what is around the next corner, so instead it has now been a year since I've seen some of my friends down there. I've booked a flight back for Christmas, which makes me extremely happy, but I miss the place. No Roatan has also meant, no diving, which I miss terribly. People have asked me what the appeal is lately and my response is this; scuba diving is everything that snowboarding isn't. It's warm (at least where I like to do it), it's no impact, it's quiet and calm (which snowboarding actually can be too, but not sledding or crowded mountains, etc.).

Diving to me is like a forced meditation. You slow down your breathing, clear your mind, and look at pretty fishes. It calms me.

So in the year since I've been home, a lot has happened. I've made big strides professionally, and am very proud of the work I'm doing these days. Between that, the new apartment, and impending wedding, life has kept me very, very busy. I feel fortunate, considering the state of the global economy and how tough it is out there to make it as a photographer, to still be getting work, selling pictures, and interesting new clients.

Now if I can just figure out how to do it all of that from the beach...

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This is a typical view off the wall in Roatan. No sharks or seahorses or barracuda, just a squirrel fish and lots of coral. Aaaah.
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