by Barb Eller (January 2012)
I do enjoy taking photos when I go diving but they don't always turn out exactly as I remember them. So when Bucito offered a class in underwater photography, I signed up hoping to improve my photos. It was a one- or two-day class and, as you will hear later on, am I ever glad I decided to go both days. Bucito is a very talented photographer who is always trying new techniques. I remember when we first met four years ago, he was getting some awesome photos just using a point 'n' shoot camera. Now he has a much larger Ikelite camera with double strobes and other good attachments.
It was a simple class plan: we would get basic instruction with a few suggestions for camera settings, do two dives with lunch in between, then get together in the evening over dinner and view everyone's photos. There were six of us the first day and we did our first dive at Puenta Tam. It is one of Bucito's favorite sites because of the large, purple sea fans and barrel sponges that a person could slip inside. My aim was to improve my macro photos, so I began looking for little things hiding in the coral. I found some arrow crab inside a vase sponge and there were pieces of crab claws next to him. As I made my way along the reef I found three lobsters waving their antenna at me; I think it was more of a warning to back off than a greeting. Next I worked on doing close-ups of star and brain coral.
At the end of an hour we ended the dive and headed into shore for lunch. Two large plates of ceviche with shrimp were served—my favorite!
Next dive was at Dos Ojos and we spent another hour wandering up and down the reef taking photos. At one point I looked down at the sand and noticed something sticking out from the coral. It was dark green in color and about three feet long, ending in a point. As I dropped down to get a closer look, my dive buddy came over to keep an eye on me and we both realized it was one end of a moray eel.
The second day we had more divers join us so we had to take two boats out. Remember I said I was glad I signed up for day two? About 15 minutes into our dive, as I was concentrating on the reef, out of the corner of my eye I saw a fish and thought, That is a big fish. I turned towards it and I am sure everyone around me heard, "DOLPHIN! DOLPHIN!" There were six of them all swimming in different directions. One of them kept coming within arm's length past me. I kept trying to get a picture, but he was too close and I couldn’t get his head in the shot. Finally, as if he knew what I was trying to do, he came straight towards me. I think he even smiled—what do you think? Then just as suddenly, they disappeared. I don't remember too much of the rest of the dive; I kept looking around to see if they might come back.
We had been having a lot of rain lately and so there was a current that made it difficult to get pictures, especially on our second dive. I found a flamingo tongue climbing on a fan. Between the current and the surge, I was continually swaying back and forth, trying to time pressing the camera button and holding steady at the same time. It took me about six tries before getting what I wanted. I found a juvenile spotted drum fish (they are black and white with stripes and spots) in an opening of some coral. He didn't seem to mind my taking pictures of him.
All of us came away a little better photographer and it was a fun two days—I did mention the dolphins didn't I? We learned more than how to take a good picture—also how to do it without damaging the reef. One of my pet peeves is divers who take pictures with no regard as to what they hold onto to steady the camera or what their fins are kicking. Please remember how fragile our beautiful reef is and each one of us must protect it.
Want to see some of Bucito's great pictures? Go to his Facebook page: Mahahual Dive Center.
Until next time ...