It seems like all I've been writing about recently is whales, which of course, is entirely understandable given that I just returned from six weeks of thinking about nothing but whales.
Before going to Tonga though, I was in Papua New Guinea for a month, cruising around New Ireland aboard MV Golden Dawn, spending a lot of time visiting islands and remote areas that most tourists would never have a chance or reason to visit.
To be honest, the diving wasn't the best I've ever seen, but the trip was anything but dull. I saw, experienced and learned a lot of things that are beyond description, and I was fortunate enough to spend time with some incredibly well-travelled, knowledgeable and fascinating people.
I just looked briefly through images from the trip, and I hope that I'll have time soon to edit properly and put a story together about it. I literally only had a few days between PNG and Tonga, and I was preoccupied with Pasta's illness when I was home at that time...and of course, I'm off in a few more days for another trip.
Anyway, here's one photo that brought back fond memories of the adventure. While anchored one evening at Lifu Island, one of the islands in the Tanga Island group, we had a bunch of guys visit the boat (not unusual in PNG) and do an impromptu dance.
Light levels were low and fading quickly, but I had just enough time to run into the cabin, set up a camera, clamber down to dinghy level, and grab a few photos.
The key to lighting this scene was using a combination of land and underwater strobes, specifically a Canon 380EX speedlight (borrowed from Captain Craig's nephew - thank you!) and an Inon Z220. With so little ambient light, I exposed for the background to capture the sunset colours, used the 380EX as secondary fill, and had someone hold the Z220 high above as main fill, triggered in slave mode. ISO 800, f4, 1/30th.
Why go to the trouble of using the Z220? First, because it was there. Second, taking the main artificial light source off the camera axis is usually much nicer than a typical on-camera strobe shot. And finally, because I had a filter on the Z220 to warm the colours up a bit.
When you're on your next dive excursion, don't overlook the possibility of using your underwater strobes as topside lighting.