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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December 24th.

Here is our day from sunrise to sunset yesterday:

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YVR departures
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Loading luggage
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Bye bye Vancouver
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Bye bye Canada.
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Nothing but Pacific.
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Islands on the horizon.
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Surf is way up.
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That's us.
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Arrived

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Santa treats you well.
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Back from Maui, on to the real world.

Back from my trip to Maui to celebrate my one year anniversary. We had a great 10 days in the sun and spent most of it underwater with our friends Gabe and Sarah. The highlight of the week, aside from the obvious milestone of the first year of marriage, was spending 15 minutes around 85 feet underwater with 30 foot long whale shark. This is the biggest fish in the ocean and for most of us, a once in a lifetime experience. Having spent a bunch of time in Utila, my wife T had snorkeled with Whale Sharks on numerous occasions, but to be deep underwater with one, and have it hang around, is rare and we are still amazed by our luck. I didn't have an underwater camera rig on this trip so you'll have to settle for the flickr group that was taken by our divemaster Joe. Thanks to Ed Robinson's dive operation, this is the second year we've done our boat dives with them and they are a solid operation with great people. We did around a dozen shore dives over the course of the week too, and we rented our tanks from B & B scuba in Kihei. They're a really great shop and nice people who took care of us last year and again this year.

For my scuba geek friends, you'll be stoked that we saw over a dozen different nudibranchs, some of which are unnamed and still unknown, eagle rays, more turtles than you could count, huge and tiny scorpionish, devil, leaf, and more, tons of frogfish, one of them even freeswimming, lots of whitetip sharks and some grey reef sharks, that I missed but everyone else saw, tons of different eels including dwarf, whitemouth, yellow margin, zebra and tiger moray, and just about every tropical fish you can imagine.

Here are some shots from the trip.

D.

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The "Sea Spirit", our trusty ride.
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Kits on board.
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Sunset from Wailea
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Part of a beautiful drive on our way to a remote shore dive.
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On our way to the Mala ramp shore dive.
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Rays over the water, rays under the water.
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Lahaina
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Legendary Hawaiian diver Ed Robinson.
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