What an unforgettable week. Last Sunday I closed the door of my Vancouver loft for the last time, threw my SCUBA gear into the Jeep and headed to the airport to pick up one of my best friends. We got on a ferry to Vancouver Island and headed north to Port Hardy, camping for a night along the way to drink some wine and catch up. Our final destination was God’s Pocket, a little marine park in Queen Charlotte Strait, for a week of cold-water diving with Giant Pacific Octopus, Wolf Eels, and the abundant life under the surface of this emerald sea. (Photos above are of me, courtesy of my friend Jon McCormack)
For me the week was significant because I’ve been dreaming of taking my cameras underwater for a while and now my scuba skills are at a point where I can comfortably do that. Not so comfortable that I knew to bring the little on-camera flash for my Fuji XT-1, however, so I dove the whole week with my little Sony RX-100 – probably in hind-sight a good move as it pushed me hard to work around the limits of so small a camera, and to get comfortable. Overall it’s a great little camera and while I can’t wait to dive the XT-1, this wasn’t a portfolio trip but a learning trip.
The trip was led by Jason Bradley, with whom I became fast friends, and with whom I’ll be taking my gear to Mexico’s Isla Mujeres this August to photograph Whale Sharks. Jason is a seasoned photographer and diver and it was a thrill to be a student for a week, with no expectations on me but to play, to learn, to fail, and to do my best not to drown. We dove 3 times a day for 6 days, and it was exhausting, but exhilarating. And in between dives there was a lot of laughter and some amazing food, and not a wifi or cell signal in sight. Very remote, God’s Pocket Resort is the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re at summer camp and haven’t got a care in the world but to wake up and have an adventure.
Below are a few of my first images as I struggled to get my mind around using strobes and manage backscatter, while trying to make a compelling composition, fighting currents, and trying hard not to get eaten, bitten, poked, or drowned. The first is more for interest than anything – these Giant Pacific Octopus, though it’s hard to get a sense of scale, are huge. Such intelligent, curious, graceful, and other worldy creatures, they can have a wingspan up to 30 ft, though 16ft is the average.
Returning from the trip I drove to my new home in Victoria and the last two days has been a mad rush to unpack boxes, arrange my office, figure out internet, and get as close as I can to normal life, which is why it’s been longer than usual between posts. I’ll do my best to keep current but you could see me a little less for the next week while I settle.
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Thank you David for sharing your beautiful images and inspiring stories. Welcome to the Island! We just moved here a couple months ago and the beauty is stunning 🙂
Your kelp images are amazing. Up there with your Hokkaido Swans. Some of my favourite photographs I’ve ever seen. Less is way more.
I can’t believe these are your first dive shots. Great work. I like the fact that you were focused on execution rather than gear. You really did the most with what you had with you.
Hey David! I haven’t been scuba diving since i got certified in college, but this makes me want to go again!
I love the photos of those yellow bulb seaweed looking things, what are those? The color and tone/texture is beautiful.
Great photo! I’m your fan!
For a guy who “hates flash” you rocked it! The last photo of the group is lit to perfection! Inspiring indeed.
As I look at Jon Mc Cormack’s photo of you entering the depths, I feel glad to be a flat lander far away from the cold darkness of that icy water 🙂
Yes, that octopus makes my skin crawl!
Beautiful, so beautiful. You just continue to inspire me to live a different life.
Encouraging of you to say so, Kelley – more than writing, more than photography, that’s what I hope my legacy will be – to live a great story and inspire others to do the same.
Awesome backlighting that anemone.
Love those kelp shots!
Amazing, being a “rookie” diver you still managed to capture some beautiful images.
Congrats on not being eaten or poked, etc.!
This is very helpful too. Part 1 and 2
Fantastic, Budd. Thanks for taking the time to hook me up with that. Already learned a couple things I hadn’t thought of.
Cool (literally!) images, David. Welcome to the world of “light in the sea!
The light in these is magical. It’s hard to believe you’re just learning underwater photography.
After 18 months of being too busy I am going for my PADI and advanced PADI qualifications in July. Already booked the trip back to Iceland to dive at Silfra in September as a reward. Seeing this makes me wish it were the end of June and not April. Can’t wait.
David, my smile grows as I scroll down, just because I’m happy to see you doing what you love. Your enthusiasm is contagious…thank you.
Lots of mystery in the darkness but some of these images – particularly the first one – is triggering feelings of hyperventilating. A testament to my limited diving experience.