This is a two-parter I’ve decided to do on the Ghiannis D, a popular Red Sea dive site for all, at Abu Nuhas. She is part of the usual itineraries for Scuba Travel’s Wrecks and Reefs tour and also the more specific Wreck itineraries.
She tends on the regular trips to be dived as the first dive of the day, but photographically I much prefer the way the light falls on her from midday until the afternoon. So we normally dive the Chrisoula K as our first dive, and then dive the Ghiannis D as second and often again as our third dive to shoot the exterior.
The second dive of the day at Abu Nuhas I like to leave a little late around 11.30ish and this way more overhead sunlight is coming through the portholes and entrances making interior shots more interesting. And this also usually means that we will get her to ourselves as the other boats are usually finished their second dives, and we are out of sequence.
Working with regular guides that know me and how I like to plan the day is an absolute Godsend, and this I find is one of the key differences between a normal trip and a photo week, this ability to move the itinerary around with the compliance of the crews.
Speaking of crews, our skipper Amer on Mistral will always try and get us the best spot closest to the wrecks and usually in the channel; this also means we are in prime position for those folk night diving as this is the best part of the reef for this too. With the added bonus that we don’t require an arduous long rib journey, usually only being a few minutes from our drop.
Normally after the dive briefing I will say a few words and give some hints and tips on getting the best shots, and being the second dive I mention about the technicalities of shooting the inside. The Ghiannis D is large enough to easily stagger the groups so as not to all be inside at once.
I will always defer to any of the group who wants to get in the first rib going, in fact I nearly always get in the last rib – this allows me time to offer any last minute advice needed, but I also prefer letting the group get their shots before me.
This is also a little sneaky of me too, as how often do you hear photographers wanting to get inside a wreck or a cave system before everyone else? Lots I bet; their reasoning is usually to get shots before everyone else has stirred all the muck up.
Actually I don’t mind going in after the crowds have caused a sandstorm, as it usually only needs five minutes or so to settle down, and I find that if you are going for impressive shafts of sunlight then a little suspended particulate only adds to the drama.
This shot below was taken with my buddy on that dive Jo, and we’d already had a brief chat about this particular scene inside the Ghiannis, normally entered from within an exit in the engine room; but I’d decided to do it in reverse, another reason to make sure everyone else had left.
I had to shoot at a very high ISO of 1600 which, even though my micro four thirds sensor is very good, will result in quite a lot of grain and noise.
This resulted in me shooting at 1/30 sec and at an aperture of f5.6 for those geeks among you. I don’t actually mind a bit of noise, and in fact for some shots I think, in particular wrecks, it adds to the atmosphere.
I also did an alternative black and white split toned edit, which is something I will look at more closely in a future blog so keep checking back. For now though here is that particular edit.
After Jo and I had finished taking our pictures we exited this area through the doorway just hidden in the left hand corner of the shot. This is the engine room and is on a couple of levels; there is shots to be had of the engine itself, but to be honest I am more interested in the view looking up towards a skylight, looking through some gantries.
There is usually some marine life in the form of a school of resident Hatchet fish; I knew that their moving around wouldn’t be suitable for me to be shooting on slow shutter speeds, so I opted to light with a combination of available light and strobes.
This was the best angle I shot, with the Hatchet Fish nicely grouped in the foreground leading upwards in a column towards the skylight, and I was aware that I needed to get a move on as I didn’t want to block the hatch for Jo who was hot on my heels.
Inside the engine room presented a couple of challenges. I still needed a relatively high ISO – in this case 640 – but the Hatchet Fish only needed a little light to illuminate their reflective bodies. I settled on 1/30 at f5.6 just like the previous shot, but only used a little flash power to light up the ones in the foreground, and hopefully letting the skylight and the ISO of 640 be sufficient to light the rest.
Come back to Scubaverse.com for Part 2 on Friday where I look at getting some shots of the exterior with both natural and strobe light.
Duxy is the in house photo-pro for UK-based dive tour operator Scuba Travel. To find out about availability on Scuba Travel’s underwater photography workshops hosted by Duxy click here.