First Dives of 2017

After three months without diving I couldn’t wait any longer to get back in the water, so I bought a hooded 5/3 mm vest to wear under my 3mm farmer john and did a couple dives. I was also eager to test a few camera upgrades.  The water temperature was a mild 67 degrees and my thermal protection combination worked well keeping me warm.  The visibility had been poor so shooting wide angle was out and instead I focused on macro and closeups of small subjects.  The first dive was at the Destin Jetty, my first time doing this particular site.  The walk from the parking lot where you gear up to the entry point is long and mostly sand with half of the sand being loose and powdery.  Locally it is referred to as the “death march” which is pretty appropriate, but despite the long walk, it’s a decent shore dive with a lot of marine life with a max depth around 55 feet.  The finger jetty you dive is loaded with stone crab, wrasse, belted sandfish, damselfish, and even some flounder.  We also saw several horseshoe crabs and a lot of sand dollars on this particular dive.  The visibility was pretty poor, maybe 8 feet due to an overcast day, recent rain and surf kicking up sediment.  With the low visibility having good subject proximity was paramount; with some patience I was able to get close enough for a few decent shots.

Next, I did a dive at the Navarre Beach Artificial Reef, a site I’ve done many times and really enjoy.  The visibility was equally poor on this dive and with the cooler water temperatures there were few tropical species present but we did find two octopus and blennies were abundant.  In the past there have always been buoys marking the reef, however they were gone which made finding the reef a little more difficult than usual.  Luckily, there were enough divers looking for the reef we eventually were able to find a pod.  Once the first pod was discovered we descended and easily navigated the reef and enjoyed an hour long dive with a maximum depth of 14 feet.  I’d just made a few upgrades to my camera before this dive consisting of new tray and arms and a YS-D2 strobe to go with my YS-03.  The upgrades increased the overall size of my camera rig but it is still very manageable.  The pods that make up the Navarre reef create tight spaces for the marine life to hide within, which makes getting close to some subjects difficult.  But with more freedom positioning my strobes, particularly out to the sides instead of above, I was able to make it work to get a few decent shots of blennies that were deep in the pods.

Molly Miller at Navarre Artificial Reef

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