Port Hardy, BC, Canada. August 2008
In late August 2008 I travelled to Port Hardy in the north of Vancouver Island, Canada. It was a breathtaking trip to the chilly waters of British Columbia. There are few places in the world that support such colourful underwater life and abundant critters, either in temperate waters or in the tropics. It is not known as the worlds best cold water diving for nothing. It was an eye opening experience. The scenery above the water was also stunning and I also photographed bald eagles, stellar sealion, deer, otters and bear. The gallery here contains both above water and underwater images.
There were just four of us on this trip, and I joined underwater photographers Todd Mintz, Rand McMeins and John Davies. Sadly my buddy Peter Rowlands was unable to come at the last minute. We were on the liveaboard Mamro operated by Capt Dan Ferris and dived the famous Browning Passage.
The underwater life was very diverse. There was much wide angle with colourful sponges, anemones, corals, barnacles, and giant seastars covering every surface beneath a towering canopy of bull kelp. The macro life was beyond belief. Benthic and demersal fish are common and I really enjoyed shooting a variety of sculpins, particularly collecting colour varieties of the Red Irish Lord and shooting the weird looking grunt sculpin, whose head has evolved to look like a barnacle (so it remains camouflaged when hiding in disused barnacle shells). Rockfish were also very photogenic. A real favourite with Todd and Rand are warbonnets and they are both very good at finding them. These fantastic looking fish are full of character and excellent subjects. I also has a brief chance to photograph wolfeels. We'll target this species more on future trips. Invertebrates were equally rich, nudibranchs, crabs and shrimps. We also saw the giant Pacific octopus. And finally, a real treat. Our trip coincided with a jellyfish bloom and as we started shooting these magical creatures we noticed more and more of them carrying hitchhikers. Tiny amphipods riding along on them.
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Equipment-wise I was able to shoot the Nikon D3 for the first time on this trip. I had the camera and housing on loan for this trip and the following one to Guadalupe in Mexico. I shot the camera in the Subal ND3 housing. You can read my review on the camera on Wetpixel. I used the Sigma 15mm FE, Nikon 60mm, Nikon 105mm + 5T, Sigma 150mm + 500D lenses. I used Inon Z240 strobes. I also took my D2X camera which I used in the Subal housing with the 60mm, 150mm and 17-70mm lenses. Above water I used the Nikon 70-200mm AFS VR and a 2x teleconverter and a 17-35mm on both cameras.