The marvellous creatures of Lembeh Strait

Hypilein

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In February I did my first ever trip to Asia, diving in Lembeh Strait (North Sulawesi, Indonesia) and Bunaken Island. The Lembeh Strait is famous in the diving world as a muck diving spot. This means you dive over sand and rubble looking for small critters. Many of them are so small that only experienced guides find them. Luckily the guides at Bastianos Dive Resort (which I can only recommend) were indeed very good at pointing out a whole range of tiny nudibranches, shrimp and crabs. I apologize for the flood of images. I have found culling much more difficult when the creaturs are so different from each other.

Nudibranches come in all sorts of colours. There are over 3000 different species world wide and the Lembeh Strait is one of the hotspots for nudibranch variety.
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The variety of creatures is also really impressive with regards to shrimps and crabs.

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Sometimes you can even find creatures on top of other creatures.
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Seahores and small fish like the Goby and the Frogfish complete the picture. The pigmy seahorse shown is about the size of a fingernail and incredibly hard to find and photograph.
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Another activity that can be done in Lembeh is Mandarinfish Dives. Mandarin fish are only active during dusk. But during that time they also show of their mating behaviour. As they are afraid of strong lights it is very important to use a red light as focus light so that the camera can still aquire focus in the dark.

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Hypilein

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After our week in Lembeh we moved onwards to the Island of Bunaken. In contrast to the black sandy bottoms Bunaken boasts incredibly colourful and rich reefs and an abundance of sea turtles. In fact there are so many, we stopped counting them on the first dive.

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On Nightdives crabs and shrimps and sepias come out. If you use a red light, they won't be scared away and you can get some good pictures.
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Even though they are often overlooked, macro sized creatures also hide in colourful reefs.

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Clown fish are also welcome photo subjects as they often try to defend their anemone and thus pose very favourably.
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After having great difficulty with wide angle at the beginning of the trip, I tried it once more during the last days and got at least a few convincing reefscapes as well as more turtle images.

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Thanks for looking!
 
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retiredfromlife

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Really great photos, and to think I struggle with flash exposure & focus land based, never mind rolling with the currents underwater.

I will come back to look at these tomorrow again when I have more time, getting late here.

That almost transparent critter outlined in dots so to speak in the first lot, my favorite I think, but so hard to pick a single winner from the presented selection, all so good. :2thumbs:
 

Hypilein

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I got the 12-50 when I bought my housing as it was bundled with the (very expensive) port and gear that allows activating the macro function. It is extremely versatile underwater. When shooting through (sometimes curved) glas and so much water sharpness becomes a very relative thing and focal length/focus distance become much more important. I only borrowed the PL45mm from my parents, but I haven't decided yet if I actually need a dedicated macro lens.
 
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Brilliant! I'd like to have pressed most of the rating buttons, including the 'Winner' one, several times. But I couldn't, so here's a LIKE, a WOW, an INFORMATIVE and an APPRECIATE to thank you instead. Love all the images, but that 'ghost' shrimp with the purple legs is amazing! Is it amongst polyps, or eggs, as a matter of interest?
 
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Hypilein

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It is probably my favourite as well. It was just sitting on some type of sea anemone.
 

junkyardsparkle

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E-M5 OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 43mm f/9.0 1/200s ISO 200​
It's hard to be sure on a Saturday night, but I think this may be one of my favorite photographs of all time.
 
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StefanKruse

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Brilliant set! really nice work you have a very good eye for composition.

I would love to go to lembeh, but my divebuddy who doesnt photograph isnt as tempted as I am. What camera/flash and housing set up and housing are you using?
 

Hypilein

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I have an Em5mkI that is housed in a Nauticam housing. Most shots are taken with the PL45, which I borrowed from my parents. The other macro shots (all of the ones from Bunaken) are shot with the 12-50mm for which I luckily got the dedicated port and gear to activate the macro mode. The wideangle shots are done with the PL8-18mm in the 7inch acrylglas dome port. I also did some wide angle shots with the 12-50mm in the dome port, but I didn't find that combination too convincing. To get reasonably sharp corners f8 is absolutely necessary with the 8-18.

All shots are taken with two Sea&Sea YS-02 strobes (like YS-01 but only manual). This is probably the weakest link in my setup, but I couldn't afford stronger ones and to be honest I am surprised how well they did even in wide angle scenes. I am also using a Weefine Smart Focus 2300 (always set to red, also borrowed from my parents) as a focus light. This was especially important for the mandarin fish and during the night dive.

All shots are done with completely manual settings. As you know TTL doesn't really work that well underwater.

My girlfriend who is not photographing under water was also with me in Lembeh and really enjoyed it. I can see why Lembeh is more popular with photographers, but I think it is still fantastic as a regular diver.
 

flamingfish

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Wow. Just wow. Hard to pick a favorite, but I do love your pygmy seahorse. Good color contrast with the coral -- the one or two I've seen have been pretty much exactly the color of what they're sitting on. I also love the grumpy frogfish with the runny nose (which I assume is his lure, right?)

I think you just cost me about $10,000 -- I have to go to Indonesia!
 

Hypilein

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Shouldn't cost 10,000$. We paid about 2500€ p.P including everything. If you add a full camera setup you might reach 10,000$ though...
 

Hayath

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Fascinating set this! Lovely variety and great colors, the mutualism showcase in many images is gripping
 
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I think this fantastic set says a lot about this forum. We're all photographers sharing a common love of a hobby/interest, and like in all walks of life there are different leagues of ability, vision and talent. It doesn't matter that those of us in the cheap seats will never hit the high end of photography ability, we're just happy doing the best that we can as we very happily admire a set like this, which is just one of many fabulous sets of pics that I've seen on here.
 
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