July 22nd, 2011

common dolphins week #1

Common dolphin charging bait ball, Wild Coast, South Africa

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 10.5mm, Pro One Dome port, strobes Sea&Sea YS-250 x 2

this image is cropped about 3% from right and bottom, very minor color correction in Adobe Lightroom

Location on Google Maps

Wikipedia reference

Ok, here we start week of ethereal beauty, dreamy grace and harmony, infinite blue, friendliness and intelligence - common dolphin week !

My first dive ever was in Israeli city of Eilat in year 1997, in the unique place known as "Dolphin Reef", there wild dolphins come to play and socialize with people. Possibility of seeing dolphins in the wild back then probably was the biggest factor for me to put on scuba and submerge into blue. Still, 14 years later, I can't get enough of them. Image above was taken just two weeks ago in South Africa, classical take on common dolphin hunting action. That amazes me a lot - while focusing on hunting dolphins still find time to socialize and to explore curiously everything around them - take a look at this picture taken by namgul at the same time, at the same bait ball - http://namgul.livejournal.com/218551.html - can't you detect genuine communication attempt in it ? Truly wonderful, magic creatures they are !

I'm often asked about amount of post-processing I do before publishing images. I started to do u/w photography about 6 years ago with really basic equipment, and I was drawn into more or less serious semi-professional world via my ability to process even very bad images into something which looks good. I have image processing computer science background among other things, and I was able to do a lot to make pictures look good - for example this one, taken with compact camera in French Polynesia - http://pats0n.livejournal.com/111491.html. Original JPEG which came out of camera was just one low-contrast blue mess, with no any trace of red or green channel in it. It used to take few hours for me to make something acceptable like this. Funnily it still pays - this particular image I just sold to US diving magazine, it still works with some publishers. More and more I try to improve my photography skills more and more I come to realization that for good wildlife photographer it is important to minimize amount of post processing and editing applied to original images - first, it's more honest since nature photographs are documents, not pieces of abstract art, and second - it's just so much fun for me now to focus on actual photography rather than spending time in Photoshop. My priorities shifted drastically, I believe into much more enjoyable and constructive domain. Check embedded JPEG for the title picture which came out of camera - http://www.pats0n.net/photos/sar/07.11/lj/_TOP4159_IJFR.jpg - you won't notice tooo much difference with final version of the picture, aren't you ? :-) And I'm still trying to improve further on this !

P.S. BTW, like I don't have enough headaches and don't know what to do with the plenty of free time - I joined Google+ ! So if any of you are where - let's connect :-) Just look for "Alexander Safonov" whom looks little bit like smiling shark there ! :-)