Pleased with my blog posts about diving in Gorontalo, Rantje recently asked me to write an article reflecting on my time in Gorontalo for a free tourist publication in Manado. The article won’t be published until the fall so I’ll wait until the end of the Gorontalo dive season to write it up. In the meantime, Rantje thought it would be nice to get a professional photo of me next to a Salvador Dali sponge to accompany the article. The opportunity to do so came a couple of weekends ago when a small group of professional underwater photographers were in town.
Have you ever thought about what it takes to be a good underwater model? I certainly never had and I learned that it’s harder than it looks! First of all, you have to maintain neutral buoyancy so you don’t float away from whatever it is you’re being photographed next to. Then, and this is the hardest part, you have to really control your breathing, almost to the point of holding your breath, so that you don’t exhale a lot of bubbles, which are very distracting in a photo. While you’re doing this, you have to remember to smile at what you’re looking at, otherwise you run the risk of having a perfectly good photo marred by a scowling face behind the mask. To add to the stress, you also have to hope that your mask isn’t fogging up and that you’re holding the flashlight at just the right angle. Once you have all of that down, you have to hold the pose for as long as you can while the photographer clicks away. Not until after you get the OK signal can you fully release your breath. It’s hard work!
Rantje had me practice posing next to Salvador Dali sponges on two consecutive dives while he framed the shot with his hands. He signaled instructions to move left, move right, and smile more as I hovered by the sponges. After numerous takes I was finally ready for the big moment the next day at White Point with Hendra Tan of Dive Discovery magazine.
Salvador Dali sponges are only found in Gorontalo
Note the four elements of a good underwater composition – first you see a bit of the wall, then the sponge attached to the wall, then the diver and then the sun in the background.
I’m thrilled to have this professional photo of me with a Salvador Dali sponge as a memory of my diving days in Gorontalo. And I’m even more thrilled that Rantje asked me to write this article in the first place – it will be my first published piece of writing!