February 4, 2018
The Nekton Pilot was David’s first liveaboard experience. I had been on the Nekton once before in 2001 when the she was in her prime. Alas, when David and I stepped aboard in early April 2008, I could see she was not the boat that she used to be. Well actually she was exactly the boat she used to be – it appeared that nothing had been repaired or replace since my stay 6 years before (including the hot tub that was not working in 2001). On the positive side, there were only 4 other passengers on the boat, and because there were so few passengers, the crew was very attentive!!! Since it was David’s first live aboard, I don’t think he was disappointed as he had nothing to compare it too. David and I have since experienced some phenomenal liveaboards, but the Nekton was our first liveaboard together, so I have a special place in my memories for her.
On this trip I was shooting with my beloved Olympus SP350. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this is one of my favorite cameras, but it took a long time to write raw files. As a result, I always shot in jpg format, which I regret today. As I have become more familiar with digital cameras, I now question if the slow speed was related to the camera technology or the memory card I as using. All I know is that it could take well over 30 seconds to write the raw image. Since this was only my second digital camera, I didn’t have much to compare it too, and I was pretty new to the digital world of photography. My first digital camera was the Olympus SP550 UZ. UZ stands for “ultra zoom” which I incorrectly assumed would guarantee great photos. The SP550 did not even make it through an entire dive trip before I replaced it with the 350. Thus began my camera addiction, which David frequently likes to remind me of. I will expand on my camera history in another post as it would take up too much time – and I have enough material to devote to an entire post.
To support to the SP350, I was using the INON D-240 strobe. The strobe had originally belonged to David, but when he switched over to video, he generously gave it to me. It was a great strobe, but unfortunately I had no idea how to use it. It was pretty much hit or miss with the strobe – I would just shoot and hope for the best. So I was all set with my gear, but I was still pretty green when it came to taking photos, above or under water. Since my experience was very limited, I wanted to take photos of almost everything I saw. As I recall, I would take dozens and dozens of photos on each dive and I would be content if just one photo was worth keeping. I have raised my standards since then, but I have also upgraded my gear. While the camera does not guarantee good photos, it really does help (along with a few hundred dives and ten years of shooting photos above and below the water). While looking through my old Belize photos, I cringe at the quality of many of the shots. Having said that, I am still quite pleased with a few of the photos which I shared with you in the gallery below.
Now back to Belize – except for the last day, the diving was great. There was a wide variety of healthy marine life including fish, corals, sponges, and plants. I also had the opportunity to photograph multiple cephalopods for the first time. While most photos of the cephalopods did not not turn out well, I did find one worthy of posting. In addition to the abundant marine life, the currents were generally very mild and visibility was great. The conditions made it easy to shoot loads of photos (good and bad). The last day, however, was a challenge!! While returning to the island, the winds had picked up significantly and the current was pretty strong. The visibility underwater was bad especially for a novice photographer. Backscatter was unavoidable – but David and I still enjoyed the dive. Based on my previous experiences, I would definitely go back to Belize.
I hope you enjoy the gallery!!