When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. – Rumi
I was overheated, lethargic. The world looked gray and dull for photography. Yet there was that something in the air – subtle signs of weather change. I figured I’d try to cool off swimming in a local cove for relief. The high temps and humidity had me feeling pretty lazy, so I figured I’d leave the camera home. Realizing this was dumb, and anticipating rain, I left the heavy lenses home, but put my camera into a surf housing.
Hemlock Cove was refreshing. The god awful record-breaking brown tide was all but gone. All was calm, but storm clouds were moving in, looking good. Had a swim, took a few shots and the wind shifted North. White caps within three minutes inside the cove!
A North wind smooths the surface of the ocean, countering the usual onshore breeze here on the south shore of Long Island. I ran across the parkway, and jumped in. A nice storm, and being in the ocean are two things that re-energize me. Can ya relate? Yep.
Photo tips: I use a Nikon 16-35mm lens with an Aquatech base model housing. The base model has no real controls, so I set the F-stop to where I want it, and shoot in Aperture priority. I then set the ISO to auto. This way the camera has a chance to give me a good exposure. In the menu, you can set the lowest shutter speed and the highest ISO that you are comfortable with. (If the amount of available light means your shutter would get too slow at your chosen F-stop, the ISO will automatically increase, allowing the camera to keep your shutter speed fast.)
The wide angle requires a dome port. To prevent water droplets from blurring a pic, they need to go. First, make sure you have no oily greasy fingerprints on the port. (dish soap, but rinse well.) Then, spit. And spit. And lick. The dome port actually has a lot of surface area. Spit a lot. Lick a lot. You may get funny looks. Keep the housing under water until right before you shoot. The water will fall off, leaving a thin film of water with no drops. Keep spitting, keep licking, keep shooting.
Questions or comments? – feel free to hit the comments. Thanks for looking!
Almost shark week… 🙂
The ocean on the south shore of Long Island really starts lighting up with life this time of year. Along with tropical fish and startles, we also get some sharks that are better known to more southern waters. The most common shark I have seen in the last few years is the Hammerhead. They seem to like the surface. I’m not sure of the species, but I would guess scalloped hammerhead. (Hit the comments if you can identify!) They are definitely feeding on the bunker (first pic). These sharks are amazing to watch. They are extremely maneuverable, and slice and dice through the ball up bait.
Its been found that unusually structured vertebrae are what allow this tight maneuvering. That crazy head – the Cephalofoil – helps with lift and turning, however its main function is more of a sensory organ. All sharks have electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini that help detect prey. By spreading these out over the wider area of the cephalofoil, it acts like a radio antenna, allowing the shark to sweep broader areas for prey.
While we wait for this south wind to calm, here are some older pics from last year, this week.
I suspect little photoshop on that last one, but look at that water. Thats real! Hit the comments for any questions or um.. comments! Enjoy!
FINS to the left! Pics at the end!
The Fourth of July brought with it, not only fireworks and celebration, but also a very flat, mellow ocean. The north wind and a lack of swell made for smooth lake-like conditions.
I love these conditions for running the boat out there because the surface is relatively smooth in shape and texture. No whitecaps to distract the eye. It essentially becomes a backdrop from which your eyes can pick out anomalies – small disturbances emerging out of the overall pattern.
All too often, these visual stand-outs turn out to be helium balloons. (Please, folks, think about curbing the balloon use, or at least don’t let them go fly away. They land on the ocean, and I can fill garbage bag picking them up. They kill.)
The next common thing you will see are seagulls. Kind of boring, but worth a second glance. I have found sea turtles that I initially thought were birds.
Now if you keep your eyes scanning, there is a good chance that you will see some wonderful things – dolphin, shark, turtle, an occasional humpback or fin whale. Keep looking for the anomaly in the pattern. You eyes will learn to see what you are looking for.
On the Fourth, I spotted a few pods of migratory, bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. They were actively corralling and feeding on atlantic menhaden, also known as bunker. (See video of a bunker school below.) Many babies were in the mix. There seemed to be two separate pods of 15 to 30 individuals. I was between 1/2 mile and 2 miles off, between Robert Moses and Kismet.
I often see dolphin very close to shore. On these calm days, consider bring binoculars to the beach with you. You might get a nice surprise!
Photo tips: You really need a telephoto lens with some reach. You cannot get too close to these guys. Its not safe, legal, or effective. If you get too close, they dive deep and split. I try to maneuver to within no more than 50 yards, and then stay parallel to the direction they are heading and get a bit ahead of them. Turn off engine, and let them swim towards you, on a line that still maintains your distance.
I’m shooting with a relatively cheap Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens. At 600mm, I really want some wide depth of field, so I keep my F-stop at 8 or higher. Shutter speed needs to be fast – subject is moving at a distance, so I try not to go below 1/1000th of a second. For me, this works well in aperture priority mode. If I can’t keep the shutter speed up at F8, I raise the ISO just enough to get that fast shutter. I use back button focus, because its faster for me, and you need to be fast for when a dolphin pops up. It also allows me to pre-focus on where I think they will be, and then just snap the shutter.
I can’t really say enough about keeping your eyes on the water, and observing the surface. On the way in, at a slow cruising speed, I saw a small disturbance that I though might be a turtle. Turns out it was the dorsal fin of a triggerfish. I stopped and he swam under the cover of the shadow of the boat!
Enjoy, and keep those eyes open! Here are a few shots from the Fourth of July, as well as a few from previous trips!