Macro underwater photography works very well and can quickly give spectacular results.

Sea slugs are a favourite macro subject. Nudibranch, Kune's Chromodoris

      Sea slugs are a favourite macro subject. Nudibranch, Kune’s Chromodoris D90 60mm F18 1/160sec  ISO200

There are a few good reasons why my camera spends a lot of time fitted with a macro instead of a wide angle lens:

*I am closer to my subject which eliminates many of the issues caused by the tiny particles found in sea water that result in noise, backscatter, and fuzzy images.

* Water absorbs colours quickly, so being closer makes it easier to capture vibrant colour and more detail.

*There is often a huge selection of macro subjects right where we are anchored. We just drop down under the boat in a few metres of water and fossick about. The diving is easier as there is no real need to go deep or for strenuous swims to survey large areas. Mostly we just take the one camera, so while one is looking for interesting subjects, the other is trying to capture that perfect shot.

*We use DSLR cameras with housings and separate strobes that also double up for wide angle and other photography uses. But the good news is if you are just interested in close-up macro then you can also get excellent results and at a lower cost with an easier to handle compact camera. Check out the website of 2010-2011 world champion Brian Mayes, who uses a compact camera with no additional strobes.  Click here to see his amazing photos and click here to view his profile and camera set-ups.

Syl and I rate nowhere near the top marine photographers, but we have a lot of fun and have learned a few things along the way. Here’re a few of our shots with an explanation on how we took them.

Macro down-under Australian Blenny

        Nikon D700 105mm F11 1/100 sec ISO200 Common Australian Blenny

Which lens? The 60mm lens is our go to lens for macro because it’s so easy to focus and allows us to get as close as 100mm from our subject. But with the above Blenny the greater magnification of the 105mm meant I could shoot from further away without scaring him off. Focusing on the eye gave a tiny but sharp DOF highlighting its eyes and face with a pleasing fade out of his body into the background.

Several magazines have used this image including the latest edition of Australian Wildlife magazine where if featured front page in their interesting article on ‘How fish think and feel.’. Click here to read their full story.

Nikon 60mm F14 1/160 sec iso 200

                          Nikon D90  60mm F14 1/160 sec iso 200 Hairy-legged Hermit Crab.

Night diving lends itself to macro photography. On this occasion, we were anchored near a very open coral area that had been decimated by Cyclone Yasi a few years back. But come night it came alive with interesting crustaceans and colourful sea slugs which made for excellent photo opportunities.

Macro down-under Thorny Oyster

         Nikon D90 60mm F10 1/125sec ISO200 Thorny Oyster

A good processing software program is often a big help. It was impossible to avoid the cluttered background in the original image (inset). But I was able to darken it out using basic Photoshop tools to make the oyster pop.

Nikon D90 F11 !/125 sec iso200 Hump Headed Mario Wrass

                Nikon D90 60mm F11 1/125 sec iso200 Hump-Headed Mario Wrasse

I had fun snorkelling with this big friendly Wrasse to capture his unique eyeball. The 60mm lens is great for shooting moving targets.

To see more macro pics from Syl and I click here.

Shots from our friends — Point and shoot macro enthusiasts.

Paul and Barbara Banks are an Eagle-eyed cruising couple which shoot with just a Basic underwater point and shoot compact camera. They use a Ricoh W5 GPS model  which has an excellent Macro-Macro setting and costs about $450.  They are experts at finding colourful sea slugs (Nudibranch and Flat Worms). It’s amazing what they find, photograph and identify while just snorkelling around shallow coral reef structures. Here are a three of their beautiful images taken around Lizard Island.

Macro down-under

          Images by Paul and Barbara Banks taken with their point and shoot compact camera. 

Shots from our friends — Amazing photographic team.
One of my favourite underwater macro photographers is the highly skilled husband and wife team of Tavistock. They have developed excellent skills understanding and locating tiny life forms and capturing startling images.  Here are 10 of their superb images. Something for me to aspire to.

macro down-under tavistock 78 copymacro down-under Tavistock 01Macro down-under Tavistock 6 copymacro down-under tavistock 16 copy copymacro down-under Tavistock 3a




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  1. Wendy on 30 April 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Stunning photographs! I love the detail captured on the little creatures!

    • Robin Jeffries on 30 April 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Thx Wendy, glad you liked the critters. enjoy your upcoming diving 🙂

  2. BarbaraBanks on 1 May 2016 at 8:03 pm

    excellent job as always Robin, fantastic photo’s

    • Robin Jeffries on 2 May 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Thx Barbara, we are just heading out to Norman Reef and will check the state of the Coral. Chat soon, Rob.

  3. Tavistock on 5 April 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Rob, Hope you & Syl are ok, hope the weather down there has subsided (April 2017)
    Just been looking through some of your photo’s, boy you have some very nice photograph’s.
    The clarity you get is excellent and your composition and vision is real art.
    Take care both of you.

    • Robin Jeffries on 6 April 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Thx mate, Good to hear from you. We had quite an adventure in Png last year and enjoyed the diving, especially around Milne Bay. You would love the muck diving there. We are always amazed at your talents with Macro.
      Cheers Rob and Syl.

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