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Attempting our first SLR macro photography at Ishigaki Island!

The Guide 'Tarao', who is the 1st or 2nd best guide specialising in macro photography guided us through our 'macro debut'.

An underwater photographer M.D.!?

What I noticed in the briefing on the first day was, the guests each had their own clear objectives for coming with him...

Also, as Tarao has a wealth of experience, 'Mr/Ms XXX, you won't take a picture of a chromis, will you? Would you take a picture of a violet boxer shrimp? Oh, you would. So could you first take a picture of one for me...?'

'Mr/Ms XYZ, you won't shoot any shrimp, right? I like the cute ones. Ah, the Ambon Damsel juveniles are pretty; why don't we give them a try?'

'Mr/Ms ABC, the aperture should be about F5.6 I guess. Ah... just let me have a look at the camera. (Actually have a look) I see, it might be difficult to get the paguritta harmsi with this lens, but shall we try?' - is the jist of how the briefing went.

Somehow, the way he listens to everybody's hopes and makes proposals is kind of like a doctor who came to examine his patients (lol).

It doesn't matter if it's a compact digital

Macro Photography Debut with Really Macro Subject

Every time I go to collect images, as I work on the basis that I will be photographed with the subject, and because I don't enter the sea with my camera, this will be my first time to do macro photography with an SLR.

When holding the camera as a cameraman, I tried to trigger the shutter a few times, but I didn't know where to shoot, what to shoot, or how to operate it, so my unease as to whether or not I'd be able to get the shots grew...

Even so, having seen the work of many photographers' I kept getting it in my head to take the photos a certain way.

Well, I thought, 'just get the focus and take the shot!' and set this as my first goal, and set about my first macro photography!

The first subject was the cryptic bearded goby.

As well as being rare, soon after unearthing them, they go back into the sand very quickly, so you don't have much opporunity to shoot these little white things.

What's more, it's stupidly small!!!

The 'wire' from Tarao's three prized tools placed by the photography assistant next to the gobioidei.

Thanks to going to the briefing, didn't all end up wanting to shoot the same subject.

Deciding the timing, Tarao called each of us out, and in that time we picked the subjects we wanted to take, or left it to Tarao to assign them to us.

What an amazingly effective diving photoshoot.

Photography of the bearded goby is pretty difficult, so I'm mostly using automatic focus.

At first I thought that it would be fine if I just took loads of photos and one of them had the right focus, so it didn't go well.

The cryptic bearded goby isn't a creature which moves around that much either! XD

Still, I somehow managed to take the photos.

The cryptic bearded goby, about as big as your little fingernail

Manual focus... I might surprisingly be able to use it!?

The next was the violet boxer shrimp.

Like the last time, I tried setting the focus to auto, the shutter speed and the F value.

But this one too... it's so small!!

Compared to the cryptic bearded goby which is about as big as your little fingernail, this was about as big as my thumbnail, so it was better, but still tiny! (XD lol)

Also, the cryptic bearded goby is different with its thin lines, so you never know where to focus on it...

I tried several times and was able to change to the next guest.

Until I received instructions for a new subject from Tarao, I would keep practicing on the pearl-spot chromis hatchlings and yaeyama blenny.

At which point, having that precocious thought of a begginer's to take the photo using manual focus,

The cryptic bearded goby, about as big as your little fingernail

Oh? Might it surprisingly be OK?

I wasn't able to get the focus quite right until now, but suddenly I had it. I felt great.

If that's the case, I'd like to take another photo of that shrimp from earlier using MF (manual focus)!

I quickly made my way back to Tarao and asked him for another attempt, which he duly permitted!

Still not great, but still better than when I started. It looks big, but it's about the size of my thumbnail.

I reported to cameraman Ochi with self-satisfaction after coming ashore the joys of focusing manually in my first SLR photography.

'Ooh, you managed to focus manually! It's great that you noticed that.'

I was praised, and my self-satisfied expression grew!

However, if it goes on like this, I'll be in trouble.

Even now, I'm more interested in the larger whales and dolphins, so I prefer taking pictures of them, but macro photography isn't actually all that bad.

Also, since becoming able to focus manually, and becoming able to take the photos you imagine, you'll definitely want to get a new camera, so I tell people to not get too hooked on it.

Trying my first living photography

This time, I only had two days, but I managed to encounter the lubricogobius dinah and luckily the clownfish eggs.

We tried over the course of two successive days to shoot the Lubricogobius, so it was through them that my growth in skill over the two days took place.

- Day 1

So I somehow managed to get it looking good, but the focus was a bit off. The egg, red as red caviar, was just being spawned. The lubricogobius dinah is between 2-3 cm.

- Day 2

I get the focus on the Lubricogobius egg. It's just before hatching, so there's an eye coming out.

Both images were chosen by Tarao.

'The first day was good, but we need to work on getting the right focus. But on the second day the focus was just right! Isn't that good?'

After finished the 2-day training, I thought 'where is the best place to focus to make my photos better?' I wished I had asked about this is a bit more detail.

When shooting the Lubricogobius, I focused on the Lubricogobius egg, and although I waited until it came up to the egg before pressing the shutter, that wasn't enough to get its eye in focus.

When I asked afterwards, he said, 'after you get the focus on the egg, if the Lubricogobius comes, shift the focus to its eye and take the photo'.

Although I tried to take the photo in that way, as it was an instantaneous transition to the Lubricogobius egg, I had to painfully repeat the practice of instantaneously shifting the focus manually.

Underwater, we checked the images and were praised for the good ones. You sometimes lose confidence, so it's nice to get praise!

Although there were many things which I regretted not going the way I wanted them to, I was relieved that Tarao and cameraman Ochi didn't say horrid things like 'This is completely rubbish! We can't do anything with this!'

As it was also Tarao's first time to shoot the eggs of the clownfish, there was a scramble between myself, cameraman Ochi and Tarao for a spot! (lol)

'It's cropped the subject...', I said, and when I looked up I saw Tarao next to me looking at an egg using the microscope mode.

Sir! I can't see you if you go in there! (lol)

Tarao's camera is cut out from this shot

Even so, he managed to get a picture of a spawing at the exit of the fallopian tube and spermaduct.

This photo was chosen by cameraman Ochi.

Our 2-day training session finished without incident.

Hmm.... my shoulders are stiff.

Debut SLR collection

*Part of what cameraman Ochi and Tarao chose.

Tarao, thank you very much for those two days!

If you want to make your SLR debut, want to by a camera, but aren't sure which one to buy, then we recommend you pay a visit!

Tarao eliminates all of my anxiety, I'm thinking I'll definitely want to be coming back.

It looks like the teacher sometimes wants to take photos too, so when that happens, please hand it over to him, alright? (lol)

Tarao's three prized tools

Explaining things accurately to each person, for a photography assistant, the most important things are the lighting and the wires.

(Ordered from the left)
- Normal pointing stick
Giant tweezers... used to use for crown of thorns starfish removal, now use for getting hermit crabs stuck in hard-to-reach places
Small slate... for writing down the guests' requests during the briefing
Slate... with the special feature of 'eraseability'
Underwater light... 1) for me, 2) spotlight for pointing out fish, 3) extra spotlight for rounding up schools of fish and 4) for the guest assistant on 1 and 2 (due to white balance difference, use appropriate to objective)
- Magnifying glass
Spork (for scrambling)
3 wires... for pointing out small creatures; to point out the target

Then, at a Diving Shop, I went to rent an SLR camera, so that I could see which one I liked before I bought one.

Furthermore, when renting an SLR, I can get them to give me the data burnt to a CD (or an SD card or to PC), and the data is stored with the shop for about one week, so if problems occur such as losing the data, I'm protected.

And, after diving, I was a nice service to have Tarao take a look and give me advice on the photos that I took, while we were filling in the log book.

The interview was over in a flash, but I felt I had grown quite a bit as a person.

Looking at the other guests, I felt like I wanted to properly develop my own preferences, but also thought this might be a bit dangerous (lol)!

I want to take macro photos in manual! I know what I want to do, so I want it to turn out! I don't know what I want to take, so I want to find it! I want to ask about wide-angle too!

Tarao is just like an underwater doctor; you just tell him your request and he fulfills it.

When you do visit, please come feeling like you won't regret it if this becomes an obsession for you!

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