Posts Tagged ‘camping’

First Light

October 10th, 2010

This shot was taken at dawn on a recent camping trip to the Khasab area in the Mussandam peninsula of Oman.

I love the soft pastels that come with first light.

More coming soon!

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Dibba Underwater

October 29th, 2009

Before get on to the pictures from my Lebanon and India trips, I suppose I need to finish what I started.

As I’d previously mentioned, the water was so very crystal clear – and just the perfect temperature. The night we arrived, the moon was full and shining so very brightly. So brightly in fact, that you could see unaided 8 meters below the surface of the water.

Who could resist? So I grabbed my snorkelling gear and my diving torch and led my friends in two different snorkelling trips around the rocky point near to which we were camped.

Those night snorkelling sessions were among the most extraordinary snorkelling/diving sessions of my life. This was thanks in great part to the strong “fluorescence” which wasn’t overpowered by the moonlight. I understand this bioluminescence is due to microorganisms – plankton and such – which react to movement (of the water), such as when a human swims along, by lighting up.

This basically means that you end up swimming in a sea of stars. It’s an absolutely beautiful effect.

The fluorescence was so strong that you could spot someone swimming a fair distance away from the light his movement was giving off. We could also spot fish underwater in the same way.

That first night, we found the sea bed littered with crabs. They were out en masse, it seems, to find mates. We’re talking fairly large crabs, by the way. The majority measured some 30cms in diameter, at least. And a fair few were even bigger. Beautiful blues and yellows and other colours (as revealed by torchlight). I saw most at about some 6-9 meters below the surface, although there were a few in the shallows.

The Makeout Session

Crabs have very very distinct personalities, I discovered. Each crab I approached displayed a very different reaction. Some danced in circles around me, pincers raised, trying to run away but semi ready to fight if they had no choice. A small number stood their ground, and aggressively raised their pincers, opening and shutting them in warning. One even actively chased me away. I tested their reactions in other ways, too. For example, I placed the blade of my diving knife in the open pincer of a few, to see what they’d do. Most just got annoyed and moved away. One did absolutely nothing. Just stood there. Even after I tapped him on the nose with it. One snapped his pincer shut on the blade so very tightly I had to fight with it a fair bit to get him off. He only released my blade after I’d shaken him dizzyingly and dragged him along for a goodly number of minutes.

There must have been some crab-fights too, along the way, or some crab predator had himself a feast, for the next morning there were crab carcasses littering the sea floor, and crab limbs floating haphazardly about.

A carcass...

When I woke in the morning I was itching to get into the water. So I quickly snapped me a few shots and then got in the water. Some of my pals had woken by then and I took one of them with me.

We saw 5 sea turtles, 2 giant sting rays (one as long as me, and the other a bit smaller), loads of cuttlefish and squid and small and big fish.

It was an absolutely beautiful session lasting over 3 and a half hours. And the bonus was that I’d made it completely across the point I’d been wanting to for more than a year now.

Eagle Rock

After crossing what we dubbed Eagle Rock (just above) we broke past the point and into a wide open stretch of sea which many kilometers away led to the beautiful fjords of the Mussandam. The moment we turned the point we were assaulted by an incredibly strong current taking us out to sea, and we had to fight so very hard for every inch to go back the way we’d come until we crossed the point again.
View Larger Map

We started in that little bay at the bottom left, and made our way to the tip at the right corner of the satellite picture above.

The view beyond the point...

The sight we were greeted with on crossing the point was simply breath-taking. Unfortunately, it didn’t translate as well as I’d hoped in picture.

Ray the ray

A ray, about 9 meters down.

Squid!

Squid!

A turtle

A turtle. One of the ones we saw proved very playful and swum around with me a few turns until I ran out of air. The rest made a break for it when they spotted us. All were juveniles, no bigger than 50-60cm in diameter.

Fishies!

Itty bitty fish just below the surface.

Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming...

My friend, Luca, seen from 6 meters down, and being chased by a wall of tiny fishies. Now he’s a very tough cookie. A real-life He-Man. He swam over three and a half hours without fins (flippers) and wearing only those tiny swimming pool goggles, as opposed to a full mask and snorkel like me. And he fought the super-strong current like that. And won.

Puffy

A pufferfish. Seen about 9 meters down.

We even had the unique experience of witnessing two local snorkellers, a father and son, while they were spearfishing and trident fishing for their food.

The Catch

This was their catch when we’d caught up with them.

The squid they’d hunted would release blotches of ink every time they banged against the snorkeller trailing them, or against the other catches. The way back was peppered with strips of ink.

Inky

Some of the ink they left behind.

All pictures above taken with my old FinePix Z100 in its underwater housing. The Z100 is an ok point and shoot, but unfortunately its batteries are a nightmare – they run out of juice far too quickly.

More pictures coming very soon!

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Dibba in the Morning

October 7th, 2009

So, going on from my previous post, I mentioned that the plan was to make merry on the beach until dawn.

That mostly held true. Particularly for the others. For my part, I collapsed in my chair in the wee (and I mean wee) hours, shortly before dawn, while serenaded by 5 brilliant singing musicians (including Birthday Boy – and you should hear him play the piano). On the plus side, I awoke shortly thereafter in the middle of that magical hour – dawn – to find that everybody else (except for Birthday Boy) had collapsed and was snoring happily away.

So: Dawn + Awake + Amazing Place = Picture Time!

I hurriedly got up, grabbed my camera from the other end of the camp after fighting my way through the giant wasps that always seem to invade a camp-site in the morning, and the results are here for you to see.

Dhow at Dawn (Moon Over Dibba (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/640 seconds)

I’ve realised that lately I’ve become much more partial to soft pastels, whereas before I had a strong penchant for strikingly vivid colours…

Take this picture for example:

Dhow with Fujeirah Mountiains Behind (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/100 seconds)

Or this one (in which you can see just how crystal-clear the water was):

Fujeirah at Dawn, seen from Dibba (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/100 seconds)

Ok, so this one is rather vivid, but still:

Sun Rising Over Dibba

I shot the picture below from some old ruined huts which are peppered along the foot of the mountain. When I went towards the huts, my aim was to make some good pictures in the soft light of morning. Unfortunately, nothing I saw really spoke to me, so instead I turned my attention to more interesting stuff – like our camp.

Below you can see Birthday Boy about to ready breakfast, tiptoeing over and around the party animals that lay sprawled all over the place, while in the background the mountains of Fujeirah rise up through the mist in the fragile light of dawn.

The Camp, seen from Ruins (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 seconds)

I probably could have gone off in search of different angles to shoot from, and different things to see, but to be honest – all I wanted to do was get in the water and snorkel (more on that in comping posts).

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