Category Archives: In The Water

Spotted eagle ray before and after

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Two Ways,’ the idea being to show a photo processed in different ways or to show two photos of the same thing taken at different times in different conditions. (See more responses here.)

I’ve gone with a photo taken yesterday morning showing it before and after processing. In the water, I use a basic point-and-shoot camera in a waterproof case. I don’t use lights or a flash so I shoot mainly on auto, because if my big fingers started pushing little buttons, my subject would be halfway to Japan before I got a photo. This approach can lead to some erratic results, including the image appearing somewhat murky, but usually this can be cleaned up during processing. On this day, the visibility in the water was cloudy, but not as bad as it looks in the before photo.

For photo processing, I use an older version of Photoshop Express (PE), which is a stripped-down version of Photoshop. Using the full version would be like me driving a Ferrari to the local store – way more power and features than I need. My version of PE has a ‘haze reduction’ feature, which is a sort of automatic one-stop processing step, but I prefer to do my own adjustments.

While the two versions look quite a bit different, the change is mainly down to simple adjustments in ‘shadows and highlights’ and tweaking the tones and colors in ‘levels.’ Besides that, I removed a few of the little red flares that often occur in these underwater images, and bumped up the sharpness a hair. That’s it.

Since I follow the same routine when processing all my photos, it goes very quickly. This one was all done in 5 minutes, and the result was worth it.

Kinda grizzly

If you like graphic violence, you’re at the right place today. This is a triton’s trumpet sea snail devouring a cushion star, which has been turned on its back. These snails are the largest in the island and feed on echinoderms, which include stars, cucumbers, and urchins.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Two Step revisited

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your Happy Place.’ See more responses here.

There were a few options for this theme, but I went with this collection because I love going snorkeling and because, just a few days ago, my wife and I revisited Two Step for the final time before Hawaii loosened its restrictions on visitors. We got up early, drove down, and were in the water around 7:45 am. There were two other people swimming at that time, no one else waiting to get in.

The top photo was taken after our swim, around 9:30 am. In a ‘normal’ year, at this time of day, this whole area would be dotted with groups of people, and chairs and mounds of towels left by people already in the water. The bay would also be similarly populated with people, cruising around, looking at fish. There would be several snorkeling tour boats out in the bay, dumping people into the water. Two Step is one of the best spots for snorkeling on the island but, truth is, much of the time it’s kind of a zoo.

However, one of the nice things about Two Step, that I’ve mentioned before, is that it’s a marine reserve. No fishing is allowed and the fish have figured that out. I can’t emphasize enough how differently the fish there react to people than they do in areas where fishing and spear fishing is allowed. They’re so much more mellow and less inclined to dart away.

Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

I took this photo of two reef lizardfishes, waiting in their usual manner. It was only after I got home and looked at the photos that I noticed the third lizardfish lower down, near the right edge of the photo. On this day, they were everywhere.

Monk seal dreaming

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Dreams.’ See more responses here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out walking along the coast and saw a monk seal I didn’t recognize. As I usually do when I see monks seals, I took photos in an attempt to identify it. Many Hawaiian monk seals have numbered red tags in one or both tail flippers. Some have been bleached with an identifying mark, though this lasts no more than a year as it will disappear when the seal has its annual molt. Some have scars of one kind or another that help with identification. This seal had none of those things.

Its most distinctive feature, apart from being a bit on the small side, was that it was restless. As soon as I saw it twitching and rolling and flexing its flippers I thought it looked like the seal was having a dream of some kind. It finally rolled over completely, in the process opening its eyes and noticing me, up on the cliff, taking photos. No matter. The seal ended up on its belly and found a good spot to rest its chin and drift back into slumber and that rather good dream it had been enjoying.

I sent some of my photos off to Lauren, the Response and Operation Coordinator at Ke Kai Ola, who keeps track of the whereabouts of monk seals around the Big Island. She said the seal was most likely Hiwahiwa (meaning a person or thing greatly beloved). He was the only monk seal pup born on the island this year, back in April. Because of the Covid virus, the shorelines were closed at that time, so access was very limited. This also meant that the pup didn’t get tagged, which explained his lack of identifying marks.

I haven’t seen him since, but a week later I saw another seal I didn’t recognize. That one turned out to be Hiwahiwa’s mother so maybe they bumped into each other again somewhere along the coast.

For more information about Ke Kai Ola and Hawaiian monk seals, go to www.marinemammalcenter.org/hawaii.

Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.