Off to Ambon

Finally. My junk gear is sorted. My batteries (both literal and figurative) are charged. My head is (as) clear (as can be expected). And I'm headed to Ambon.

This will be my third visit to Ambon in as many years, but this trip will be anything but routine.

My hopeless mess before packing

It'll be my first opportunity to stay at the new Maluku Divers resort, which is conveniently located right next to the area's main muck diving sites. The new resort was designed and built by my friend Yos.

Also, this will be the second Night Safari I've run this year. The first was at Kasawari Lembeh Resort (also designed and built by Yos) in the Lembeh Strait back in late February. Here's a video from the Lembeh Night Safari to give you an idea of some of the awesomely cool stuff we saw.

The basic idea behind the Night Safari concept is simple. Instead of diving during the day, we'll spend several days diving only after dark, when lots of creepy crawlies come out. Life doesn't get much better than that now, does it?

Given the new resort's prime location next to the main muck sites, access to Ambon's nightlife should be easy, and I'm hoping that we'll see lots of neat things like mating behaviour, predation, and of course, a plethora of bizarre, butt-ugly critters.

I also have a lot of new equipment and crazy ideas to try out. For example, I have three SOLA 600 lights with me, which I'm planning to use both as focus lights and for video.

I've never attached a focus light to my housing before, mainly because underwater lights tend to be bulky, unwieldy and clumsy...not exactly conducive to sneaking up on wildlife. The SOLA lights are unbelievably compact and easy to use, so putting one on my housing is a no-brainer. The built-in red light should also be quite handy for approaching shy animals at night.

I've also downsized strobes and am only taking Inon S-2000s, six to be precise. Some people seem to think that you need strobes the size of VW beetles in order to take decent photos. I relied almost entirely on YS-50s and YS-30s back in the day (how many of you remember those?), so I'm hoping that my "small is beautiful" gamble will pay off, especially since I don't anticipate doing much wide-angle work on this trip.

Finally, I have a bunch of knick-knacks I've knocked together to try out (with a lot of help from my friends at Aquaforum and Zillion), some of it geared toward trying to take better video footage underwater with my DSLR cameras, some of it just experimenting with light as I always do. I have no idea if any of the stuff will work, but there's only one way to find out. Right?

My somewhat neater mess after packing

If you're joining me in Ambon...see you soon! If you're not, I'm hoping to have a decent enough net connection during my month-long stay to post photos every once in a while, so please check back for updates.

Incidentally, here's a bit of video (shot by Chutinun Mora) of the recently described Maluku frogfish, aptly named Histiophryne psychedelica, which to date has only been seen in Ambon.