A common subject shot differently!


Getting into strange positions comes part and parcel with trying to take photos of inaccessible subjects. It is an awesome skill to have and any photographer should strive to perfect their buoyancy, the importance of which has been stated countless times by others. For those of you that don’t know, what you’re looking at is called a Christmas Tree Worm.

Specifically you’re looking at both its mouth and its gills. It uses the feathery appendages to trap any prey that happens to floats into them, which is then drawn down into the body and directly into the worm’s digestive tract. At the same time the appendages allow the worm to breathe by extracting oxygen from the water. They are found virtually all along the tropics and come in every colour under the sun, to the point that it is probably impossible to see every variation in one’s lifetime.

I love taking photos of them; I have probably taken too many photos of them. I have pictures of Christmas Tree Worms on their own, in groups, with bright blue backgrounds and have used exposure differential to create contrasting black backgrounds when necessary. It’s safe to say that I have photographed them so much that I have almost run out of ideas with what to do to make the photo different. But this in itself is a challenge and in this respect I come back to what I was originally talking about.

This specific Christmas Tree Worm was tucked underneath a small ledge that had barely any room for my camera let alone enough room for me. I was obsessed with the idea of shooting it in a way that made the surface become the background in the hopes of catching the ripples and the way the light angled off in different ways. However as I couldn’t see the LCD screen on the back of my camera I couldn’t see the composition and check the focus. In essence in order to shoot this photo I would have to ‘fire blind’. But that wasn’t the only problem… I also had to hover upside down, tilted at a slight angle on my back AND hold the camera upside down, pointing back at me. This was the position I ended up in and it took a lot of trial and error to find it. I probably spent the best part of 20 minutes just working out how to shoot it. The background isn’t quite what I had pictured, but bearing in mind the position the subject was in and how I had to shoot it, I’m pleased with the result. Either way, I hope you like it because I know I had an awesome time photographing it!

Find out a little bit about the peculiar species that is the Upside Down Jellyfish!


I recently had the opportunity to visit the Nabq Protected Area, thanks in majority to my girlfriend’s birthday. It’s amazing how it only took me four years to visit a truly awesome place only 45 minutes away from Dahab. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that; never visiting such amazing places even when they are right on your doorstep!

The feeling of isolation when you stand on the beach and see nothing but desert surrounding you is truly immense, even more so with the ubiquitous Sinai mountains forming a physical barrier in the distance. Of course my camera was coming with me on such a trip and despite not knowing exactly what subjects I would find, I managed a few decent shots.

The shot that you can see is of a Cassiopea Jellyfish, named quite appropriately if you are knowledgeable on the subject of Greek Mythology. It’s more common name is the Upside Down Jellyfish, because surprise, surprise, it lives most of its life upside down. These Jellyfish are actually incredibly interesting; not only can they be gonochoristic (male or female), but they can also be hermaphroditic and asexual. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! On top of their varied sex life they also share similarities with fire corals in the fact that they host the same type of zooxanthellae in their tissues. This gives them not only the ability to use photosynthesis to gain the energy to survive but also to give you some pretty nasty stings.

I found out just how irritating and copious the stings were first hand. It seems the worst thing you can do is swim in a mangrove; with fins on and in very shallow water over a bunch of these bad boys/girls/who knows?! The stinging cells get released in the form of mucus into the water column, where they can collect over large areas completely invisible to any unsuspecting swimmer. This of course is exactly what I did, the water may look deep, but in reality is only about 40-50 cm deep which meant that I was swimming in a dense cloud of stinging mucus. The rest of the day was spent popping my head up to see what was stinging me either on or above the surface, without realising the entire time the culprit was my subject.

This is a strange little story about a funny little fish!


This little fish is really quite common around Dahab and despite its rather small size it’s one of the more aggressive fish found here. It’s called the Threespot Dascyllus and it has a tendency to be very protective of the small areas that it calls home and will guard them in a similar fashion to the bulldog of the sea; the Clownfish.
What really makes me laugh underwater is the fact that the Threespot Dascyllus makes a little popping noise as it’s attacking you to really make sure you are paying attention to its completely futile attempts to scare you off. I mean seriously, this fish is about 10cm long and it will actively start biting your fins and swim in small circles right in front of your face and trust me, you seriously get the impression that it thinks it can take you on!

Anyway, in the case of this little guy, we were actually ignoring each other. I was in the process of trying to get some Macro shots of a Butterflyfish and he was about 50cm away from me trying to impress the ladies with his beautifully manicured rock. The only way that the male Threespot Dascyllus can stand out from the crowd is in a fashion similar to Bower Birds; by cleaning up areas so that they look presentable and show that the male can protect said area and therefore hints at being an awesome father! As to how far the males will go to prove their worth, well, just about a metre away from both of us another male had actually gone as far as properly excavating a buried stone. The size comparison is like you building a 2 metre deep trench around your entire house…. With nothing but your mouth….

So this illustrious little creature was just minding his own business when I accidentally stirred the bottom up ever so slightly. I noticed that a tiny little shell, probably about the size of a fingernail landed on his nice clean stone and let me tell you, he wasn’t having any of it. Quick as a flash he was over there and nudging this little shell off his rock to make sure that it didn’t make a mockery of him and ruin his first impression with the females of his species. ‘Aha, a chance to alleviate a bit of boredom’ me thinks… I picked up a rock, only a small one (I’m not cruel after all), placed it smack bang in the centre of his ‘rock of courtship’ and waited to see what he would do. Needless to say he shot over, at which point I took this photo, then proceeded to actually pick up the little stone and swim about a metre off the bottom and away from his love nest and spit it out. He then came back and double checked that his area was nice and clear and then just went about his normal daily routine.