Home PhotographyGet Snappy Get Snappy 48: Komodo National Park and Amed, Indonesia

Get Snappy 48: Komodo National Park and Amed, Indonesia

by Ellie Hopgood

I’m writing this at the airport as we’re waiting to fly home, so I’ll have to be brief. It has been another phenomenal week in Indonesia, with the first half spent diving in the breathtaking reefs of Komodo National Park and second spent getting our Nitrox certifications and visiting the USS Liberty wreck in Amed, on the north east coast of Bali. Our original plan had been to spend the whole week based in Labuan Bajo, the port city in Flores that serves as the base for all Komodo activities, but after finding out that Amed had such an enormous wreck and was famed for its black sand diving, we managed to squeeze in a few days there too. I’m so glad we did! I am so pleased with the spots we chose for this trip, as the island vibes and personal teaching on Gili Air, incredible reefs in Komodo and rugged black sand coastline in Amed showed us three different sides of Indonesia and made for spectacular diving and travel.

After getting to grips with my underwater setup last week, I took it a step further this week and got a handle on my exposure. My first day of pictures from Komodo were a little washed out, though I did my best to spruce them up with my edits, but from then on the base photographs became much sharper, better exposed and colour corrected. I spent a lot of time with anemones and various anemone fish, which are my favourite critters to catch with my camera. I saw black, orange, red and pink anemone fish in all manner of iridescent anemones – six dives were not enough to get my fill of capturing Komodo’s undersea wildlife. Some of the bigger animals were not so easy to snap; I have woefully few photos of the sharks and manta rays we were lucky enough to see, because the visibility wasn’t great and I couldn’t focus on them as they moved through the water. No matter, I was thrilled to get so much time with coral, fish and smaller creatures that grace the sea floor, and to see the bigger stuff in person.

Photographing wrecks was also a new challenge. Underwater photography is at its best when you are extremely close to a small subject, so trying to capture a huge shipwreck that’s unfurled across the sea floor in thousands of pieces is never going to be easy. I focused on the light streaming through the wreck as we swam through what was left of the hold, though conveying the wreck’s enormity definitely eluded me. I find wrecks fascinating and could have hung around at the USS Liberty all day if not for my rapidly dwindling air supply, so hopefully I’ll get lots of wreck photography practise in the future.

After twenty-three dives in the last two weeks – spread over only nine days of diving! – I think my underwater photography has improved enormously. I am so glad that I did the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course; not only has it made me a much better underwater photographer, it has made me a much better diver full stop. I also had fun getting my Nitrox certification this week, though I can’t say that had much to do with photography, and was bowled over by the turtles, sharks, rays, fish and tiny critters that we spent so many glorious hours with under the sea. I mean, I felt the current caused by the Pacific Ocean reaching land in a famous dive site called the Cauldron, hooked into the ground with a reef hook. I saw a turtle playing in said current. I saw a bright yellow frogfish the size of my pinky fingernail. It was awesome. I spent almost twenty-four hours beneath the surface and could have spent a hundred more there. Indonesia, I’ll be back!

My flight is leaving soon, so I have to go. I hope you like this week’s photos!

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