Filming the Unique fish spawning aggregations in Palau is a challenge.
Who to dive with?
In March 2017 I accompanied the very experienced Dari Divers on a filming dive down to Peleliu to document the spawning aggregation of Sailfin Snapper. The schools at this time of year number in the tens of thousands. We did three dives and were able to witness some incredible numbers of fish. When you get the timing right expect to see lots of sharks and one of the most incredible natural displays in the animal kingdom.
During the day the huge school hangs out in a secluded part of the reef. This is about 1km away from the corner where they spawn. During the night before spawning they swim there and wait until dawn. At the turn of the tide and on an unseen signal, they commence their extraordinary spawning ritual.
The list is long and being added to all the time as new discoveries are being made, Check out Dari Divers and book your trip with them to ensure you get a front row seat to some of the most incredible and unique diving in the World.
Please check it out and see for yourselves. It lists hundreds of photographers from around the world and is a great resource for finding talented media producers in a huge variety of locations
Photography services for Palau and Micronesia
Please contact us for more information regarding our photographic services. We shoot everything from underwater wildlife to weddings, Aerials to Antennas, Wide to Macro, slow motion to time-lapse, RED to GoPro, 600mm lens to Virtual Reality…..
When it comes to Aerial Footage and the stock companies that represent me and my work in Palau, I can be very picky about who I send material to. After all, I am sending them my artistic content and there needs to be both a level of trust and commitment to the future representation from them in their site design and business plan.
So it’s not often I can say that I have decided to sign up with a new agency and have them represent my Stock Content.
The resource for quality Aerial Stock Footage from Palau
Aerial Entertainment Studios though is one and my initial submissions have impressed them enough to add me to their Exclusive team of artists.
Location scouting for a new project: Over the first two weeks of June I was commissioned to find locations that fit in with a storyboard for a production due to be shot here for the Palau Visitors Authority.
I can’t divulge many details about the plot line right now of course only to say that it will be a tourism educational film to be shown on flights into Palau.
Filming took 6 days with crews from the US and Australia including local entities with a team from Lightning Strike providing Aerial Drone, Underwater and Behind the Scenes filming services.
Telling the story
Part of the storyboard has an Aerial pov, so I was happy to oblige with a few days of drone flying at some of the most photogenic sites in Palau.
This major production is now in the editing stage with the release date to be confirmed. When it is released it is going to cause a real stir as it will be the first of it’s kind. Watch this space and be sure to check back to see it’s progress!
Now that production is finished and the campaign has been rolled out, check this link to find out more about the Palau Pledge and see the finished film.
If you have a project in mind that needs locations in Palau check out these links.
Please feel free to contact us and we can discuss plans for pre-Production.
Underwater photography is a common art form these days with cameras readily available for reasonable prices. A large proportion of divers now have housed cameras ranging from a cell phone to the latest flagship behemoth “HMS Nikon”. Many also find enjoyment in attending an underwater photography workshop as part of their dive vacation.
Underwater photography is art with a physical challenge too. The best photographer on land could be terrible underwater if they’re not a competent diver.
Underwater photography should be fun
When everyone has a camera and is “happy” with what they’re doing it’s nice to be asked by someone to help them improve their shooting.
On this occasion my student wanted help across a range of subjects. Here’s a run down of things we covered:
….and camera basics
Many issues that lead to dissatisfaction in underwater photographers are down to the inherent intelligence of cameras. Especially with point and shoots and the more automatic varieties. What I mean is that cameras are often thinking too much and because they are mostly not designed with underwater photography in mind, they can make it more of a challenge to get the best shots out of them. Auto focus is a big one for this.
Dissecting what the camera is trying to do for you is the first step. Turning off “intelligent” facets of it’s character often requires reading the manual and a little experimentation. Get to know your camera.
Next comes the basic shutter speed/ aperture/ISO balancing knowledge that all photographers worth their salt should have a rudimentary understanding of. It’s not always available but being able to control them in the camera is so much more rewarding….. and challenging…. but that’s what I’m here for.
What will absolutely ruin a good underwater photography dive is when the housing doesn’t perform so I always advocate spending as much time as you can on preparation. All it takes is one o-ring or one connecting rod out of place and you have a camera that won’t work on the dive or worse is flooded. Be prepared.
After that we have the lighting and strobe positioning that is so important underwater. Correct or incorrect strobe use will make or break a shot, so developing the mindset of creating a studio and moving your lights within it and around your subject will reap great rewards.
Bespoke one on one workshops
Often the student photographer has a certain shot in mind or wants to improve on certain elements of underwater images in general. This time we were going for sun beams through the water as a background to our perfectly placed subject so we focused on that when possible.
Overall, it comes down to patience and practice, but with an hour of preparation and coaching before the dives we had the set up and basic operations down, after a few trial shots underwater on stationary objects we have a better feel for strobe power and ball park exposure settings. Then after that it’s about looking for subjects and having fun. A few over the shoulder views by me allows a real time feedback for the student and quick adjustments when necessary. Between dives a more in depth discussion as we review results.
Certainly a faster learning curve than the old slide film days………
Contact Lightning Strikes for availability of courses or workshops, individuals or groups are welcome.
For more underwater media articles follow this link
Palau Marine Sanctuary enforcement is not a simple task. The EEZ is over 600,000 km2, roughly the size of France. The effort to enforce Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary is stepping up a notch to meet this demand.
The worlds oceans are overfished to the point of species extinction and ecosystem collapse. It becomes increasingly important to prioritize sanctuaries and no take zones. But there are those that will fish illegally regardless of the laws in place. In response to this the Republic of Palau has continued to increase it’s capacity for Policing it’s National Marine Sanctuary.
In my capacity as a media producer I can help document this effort to raise awareness.
Now with the latest surveillance operation concluded I thought I would share some photos of the aerial component.
We fly with Pacific Mission Aviation in a Beech Queen Air Excalibur. Daily sorties go out and conduct searches over vast tracts of ocean within Palau’s EEZ. The patrol boats are in the area but cannot cover such a huge area in the same time. Having a spotter plane greatly increases the effectiveness of the patrol boat.
The hatch in the tail of the aircraft allows an observer to take high resolution photos of suspected illegal fishing boats. The photos of suspected vessels can be used as evidence in court. Each flight lasts about 6-9 hours and does an expanding square pattern out from a central point determined by visibility and altitude. Alternatively a parallel search pattern is employed along the edge of the EEZ.
All eyes are pealed as we search
My job apart from being an observer is to provide documentary evidence of these missions. In an attempt to obtain compelling B-Roll we employed GoPros attached to key parts of the aircraft.
Part of this media production is for promotion. For one particular joint exercise the remit was to include the aircraft in a shot with 3 patrol boats in formation. It was proposed that we have a GoPro attached to the wing looking back at the aircraft. The plane would then fly just in front of the boats in formation.
We trialled it first with just the housings attached and found the mounts were not strong enough when the aircraft flew above 150Knots. The result…we lost both the housings. So we took to bolting the cameras directly to the aircraft. This time around they survived and did so with minimal vibration and rolling shutter issues. We are continuing to develop this system to improve imagery with every sortie.
The above video shows how precisely the pilot maneuvered the plane for the shot. Before take off we set up a WiFi link to an iPad inside the plane so the pilot could see in real time the view from the camera. At one point the plane was close to 70 ft above the water doing over 100mph banking at 45 degrees…..quite a rush.
After the promotional flight, the three ships made way to different parts of the EEZ. Two apprehended illegal fishing boats loaded with illegally caught fish found and boarded.
The operations continue into 2018 with further successes and apprehended illegal fishing boats.
Lightning Strikes was called upon to provide location advice and be second camera for a cinematic documentary being shot in Palau. The best RED 6K cameras were used for this large budget shoot in Palau.
To provide amazing footage of Mantas we went up north to film them aggregating in the northern channels. This is part of their annual migration that occurs at this time of year.
Make it a RED camera Palau
We have been using a RED Epic Dragon with the Arri 8mm prime lens on front for the widest, closest images possible and we were not disappointed.
Late in the day we had Manta barrel feeding in shallow water surrounded by huge schools of fish that reacted in explosive and dramatic fashion as the mantas looped through them.
This footage may well end up in the finish documentary or could find it’s way into other productions. Either way, the 6K sensor from the RED provides incredible Raw footage from this day and many others we have been filming throughout this shoot.
In October 2015 the Ocean Warriors film crew came to Palau. We filmed for close to 3 weeks including 10 days on board Palau’s Patrol boat searching for illegal fishing vessels. A year later and the finished series is aired on Animal Planet across the world.
We got some great news this morning, Ocean warriors has been given the Genesis award for Outstanding Television Series.
The series follows dedicated individuals and organizations that have made it their calling to stand up and do something in the global effort to protect the worlds oceans.
For our part at Lightning Strike, we provided fixing services for the 3 man film crew here in Palau. Richard was also Drone Pilot, time-lapse photographer and underwater cameraman. Additionally he was filming on the patrol boat PSS Remeliik. We joined the crew as they chased down illegal fishing boats near the South West Islands close to the Indonesian border.
The experience was a real eye-opener to see how a small documentary film crew works on location. And the work being done to protect Palau’s EEZ from illegal fishing.
For another insight into the fight to stop illegal fishing check out this article on the aerial surveillance effort.
A big thanks to Pete Zucchini for the opportunity.
For more info on services provided by Lightning Strike Media please check our main website.
Even in Palau Plastic Pollution is becoming a serious problem. Whilst filming on location in one of Palau’s most beautiful locations of Kayangel the other day it was horribly apparent what a enormous issue it is. I put together this short film on what we found there.
We are killing our environment
Human activities are impacting everywhere on the small fragile planet, from the deepest oceans to the upper atmosphere. By far the biggest cause is the sheer number of people. Population control must be tackled immediately if we are to have any hope of bringing other environmental problems to acceptable or sustainable levels.
Our species consumes so many natural resources and creates so much pollution, it is literally killing it’s own environment. Just like anything that lives beyond it’s environments ability to support it, we will die off as the environment we need to survive fails.
Our oceans are filling with plastic. So many millions of single use bottles. How many can you see in the above image alone?
Watch the film above and listen to the admittedly windy dialog, but the message here is that we should be aiming to cut down on those single use plastic containers. Bottled water or drinks are one of the biggest contributors. Please think about purchasing reusable bottles and taking them with you. If you think that the above photo is just a couple of square meters of one beach the unbelievable scale of this problem might begin to dawn on you. Please make the effort to cut down on your plastic use. This issue is not going away.
A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post on her efforts to cut down on plastic usage, read it here.
Check out this link for positive thinking companies in Indo who specialize on lowering their impact on the World.