DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Transition. Part Three: Fuck it, I’m going swimming.

This blog was originally published on bneeth.com.

Around the time I became a convert to small cameras, I started scuba diving a lot. Obviously the two things would eventually meet and I’d get hooked on shooting underwater photos. I was torn because underwater photography is probably the most expensive form of photography I can think of, and it’s also incredibly difficult and prone to disaster. The thing about taking electronics a hundred feet underwater is that, well, they get flooded and ruined. A lot.

So this it how I found myself spending way more money on photography. I started off by getting a cheap housing for an Olympus Point and shoot that I had, and then moved onto a more expensive housing and strobe for the Canon G9. That was a really good rig to learn with and I managed to get some great shots with it. Eventually of course, I reached the end of the road and made the decision to house a DSLR.

What I learned with underwater photography is that it’s one of the most difficult environments to make an image, and when something spectacular is in front of you, you need a lot of really good tools to make sure you nail the shot. So small cameras didn’t last, but along the way I learned a lot.

Enjoy some shots from my underwater photo journey.


ps: click on the photos for larger versions.

A shot from the old Olympus with a grouper in front of a wreck.

Circling Horse-eye Jacks. Shot with the Canon G9. I loved this when I got it and still do. Sometimes the limitations of a camera help to make something unique.

One of the craziest looking fish you will ever meet; the toadfish. Shot with the Canon g9.

Breath hold shots with a camera rig can be tricky.

My friend Kat over the sandy bottom. Black and white is one way to deal with the deep blue hue of ambient light underwater.

Finally got a dslr housed, and the pictures dramatically improved. This is a giant barrel sponge on the edge of the reef wall in Belize.

When you startle a Caribbean octopus at night, it will either hide or make itself as big as possible. Night dive in Belize.

Macro of Coral. Repeating patterns are visually pleasing.

Classic underwater composition with a giant barrel sponge and diver.

I love moray eels. Whitemouth Moray from Maui.

Nudibranchs are essentially snails, without the shell. They are small and come in myriad colours and shapes and they mostly sit still so you can take their picture.

Balancing the flash with ambient, and then making the falloff reach an appropriate height on the mast made this one of the more challenging shots. Good thing the diver doesn’t look too goofy.

A week in Belize with Sun Dancer 2

Hello friends,

I’m just back from a week in Belize aboard a fantastic liveaboard dive boat called the Sun Dancer 2. The flagship of the Dancer fleet, the Sun Dancer 2 runs out of Belize City and spends the week hopping from site to site along the mesoamerican barrier reef and exploring some really pristine reef systems, much of them protected and part of a UNESCO world heritage site.

Close friends of mine will know that we’ve had a tragic year and this week away was very much what we needed at the end of an emotionally exhaustive stretch. This trip would have already been great, but that fact that the captain and hostess are Simon and Andrina made it even better.

I spent a week diving these waters in 2006 and was looking forward to getting another look at the reef. It’s very similar to what I know in Roatan, but it gets less traffic and has some creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. I can’t recommend these guys enough, they are so quick to take care of every need, the food is great, and some of the best diving in the Caribbean is right under your bunk.

I finally housed one of my Nikons after years of messing around with point and shoot cameras underwater. It’s bigger and heavier, but it does the job a hundred times better.

Here are some shots.

Captain Simon. Hold his nose and air comes out of his ear...

Some really nice staghorn coral.

The spotted toadfish is endemic and found nowhere else. It took me until the last night to see him though!

First time I’ve ever seen a Spanish Dancer.

This funny little guy is called a Goatee blennie. Another first time creature for me, they are extremely reclusive and rare to find.

Fringe backed nudibranch.

This is the second Viper Moray I’ve ever seen and the first I’ve ever got a shot of.

Gorgeous little filefish.

Andrina underwater...

Andrina waiting on the stern.

Tiny little brittle star.

Reef Squid at night.

Octopus at night.

Pushing the limit of my 60mm macro.

Pedersen’s cleaner shrimp.

Horse eye jacks lived under the boat all the time.

an eagle ray.

Nice walls and fans.

Damn lionfish.

Cave full of silversides.




Night stingray.

I’m a fan of fans.

The housing gets a rest.