Leo Clifford Photography: Blog https://www.leoclifford.com/blog en-us (C) Leo Clifford Photography [email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Wed, 29 Mar 2023 11:44:00 GMT Wed, 29 Mar 2023 11:44:00 GMT https://www.leoclifford.com/img/s/v-12/u406436376-o3421038-50.jpg Leo Clifford Photography: Blog https://www.leoclifford.com/blog 120 82 Maternity Photo Shoot at Cabbage Tree Bay Manly https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2023/3/maternity-photo-shoot-at-cabbage-tree-bay-manly Underwater maternityCabbage Tree Bay, Manly Today, I had the pleasure of diving into one of my favourite spots, Cabbage Tree Bay, just a stone's throw from the bustling Manly Beach, for a special underwater maternity photoshoot. Despite the warm water and calm conditions, the shoreline was a bit murky where we were capturing memories. My client, a six-month-pregnant mama-to-be, and I had a blast.

As a photographer, I relish in the opportunity to work with my clients and capture moments that will last a lifetime. Although it can be a bit daunting for some to snap photos amidst the open ocean, I firmly believe that the natural environment provides the perfect backdrop for maternity photography. And there's nothing quite like the magic hour when the sunbeams paint a picturesque scene.

Of course, with great reward comes great challenge. A week early Mother Nature was unpredictable, with some rough surf, debris, and poor weather throwing a wrench in our plans. But fear not, I always offer free reshoots if we don't get the ideal conditions the first time around. And when all else fails, the trusty pool makes for a fantastic backup option.

While my passion may lie in photographing wildlife, I never expected to get some much satisfaction shooting maternity photography. It just goes to show that life is full of surprises, and I'm grateful to be a part of this beautiful journey with my clients.


 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) underwater maternity photographer sydney underwater maternity photography https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2023/3/maternity-photo-shoot-at-cabbage-tree-bay-manly Wed, 29 Mar 2023 11:39:08 GMT
Nude Underwater Portrait Shoot at Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2022/2/nude-underwater-shoot-at-cabbage-tree-bay-manly Nude Underwater at ManlyNude Underwater at Manly Underwater photography is an incredibly unique and exhilarating experience. Recently, I had the opportunity to shoot a nude underwater portrait session with two women at Cabbage Tree Bay, Manly, and it was an excellent day for them. The conditions were absolutely perfect - a beautiful sunny day with excellent visibility.

But what made this particular shoot truly exceptional was the models themselves. Their ability to effortlessly dive underwater and hold a variety of poses was impressive. When working underwater, it's crucial to look natural and relaxed while holding your breath, swimming and floating - and these models nailed it.

Nudes at Manly BeachNudes at Manly BeachNude underwater. Manly Beach

Many people often ask me why individuals choose to do nude underwater photoshoots. In this instance, the models simply wanted to experience something fun and exciting and be photographed totally natural in the water while they were still young and in good shape.  It was a great way for them to embrace their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin, and the images are something they can happily look back on in future. 

As a photographer, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of capturing images in such a unique environment. I love working closely with clients to achieve the results they envision, and this shoot was no exception.

Of course, there were some curious onlookers - swimmers who were no doubt captivated by the beautiful marine life in the area that morning. But we were all too focused on the task at hand to pay them much attention.

Overall, the shoot was an absolute blast, and I strive to create the same enjoyable experience for all of my clients. It's not every day that you get to experience the sheer beauty and excitement of an underwater photo shoot, and I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity.

Please contact me if you have questions about underwater portrait sessions. I can do private pool sessions if that environment is preferred. 

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) dive free nude photography portrait underwater https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2022/2/nude-underwater-shoot-at-cabbage-tree-bay-manly Tue, 15 Feb 2022 10:41:00 GMT
You Can Surf in Koh Lanta! https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/11/surfing-in-koh-lanta-thailand Gok's RocksSunset at Gok's Rocks. Koh Lanta, Thailand. Most people have no idea you can surf in Thailand, especially Koh Lanta which is a small southern Thailand island close to Phuket and Krabi.  When I arrived I was surprised to even see waves here, and no surfers out! In 6 months from May to November, I have not seen any other surfer out.  It feels unbelievable to be surfing on this beautiful island and looking out to other islands like Koh Phi Phi in between sets. You really feel awesome after sessions here.

There are four breaks that I surf which I can recommend:  Royal Cliffbanger's, Lendogg's, Gok Rocks, and Cliffbanger's Point. Many of the breaks had never been surfed before according to locals.  Somehow they ended up naming the breaks after a legendary half Thai half farang man the Thai locals knew as Cliffbanger. Apparently the Thai's were quite confused about his ethnicity - he looked Thai, but he surfed and had a very white bottom. 

Koh Lanta beaches face west and collect the swell from the Andaman Sea, which is the same swell Phuket gets.   The waves only work when there is no wind or a slight offshore/easterly.  The wind is predominantly westerly (on-shore).  I arrived in Koh Lanta in April, and have surfed through to mid November. I don't know what the waves are like from mid November (since we are leaving soon). Awesome for learners and experienced surfers. There are no surfboards on the island, so I purchased one from Phuket!  I went for a longboard 9"2" to make the most of the waves which are generally around the 2ft mark.  The largest I surfed was 4 foot and there were times I couldn't get out back because of the size and frequency.  A fish would also be a good choice for the 'bigger' or messy days if you can afford both a long board and fish.   The best times to surf are in the mornings and evenings before the wind picks up.   

1. Royal Cliffbanger's

Royal Cliffbangers is the most reliable and safest wave since its a beach break. It's the best break with the longest rides.  You can find it at the middle of Khlong Dao Beach just in front of the Royal Lanta Resort.  There are no rocks here unlike the rest of the breaks!    Works best at mid tide.  Images below:

Royal Cliffbanger'sSurfing outside Royal Lanta Resort, Koh Lanta

2. Lendogg's

 If it's too big at Royal Cliffbanger's you can walk north up the beach about 500m to a sheltered north end oft he bay that wraps around. This break is called Lendogg's. There's also access via the road that goes to the Crown Lanta resort.  This is sheltered in a bay as opposed to Royal Cliffbanger's which is fully exposed. No rocks here on the beach break. The point breaks sometimes, but is rocky!  The biggest I surfed here was 4ft. Watch out for fishing nets!  Images below:

3. Gok's Rocks

Gok is the Thai alter ego of Cliffbanger.  Please note, this break is not named after Gok's bulladangs.   Gok's Rocks is named so because there are a lot of large rocks protruding at this beach. However, one might want to have big rocks in order to surf this break because it is dicey AF. The break is at the south end of Long Beach (aka Phra Ae beach), accessible by the Malee Seaview Villa complex (where I lived, this was my 'local' break), or Castaway Resort. This spot also gets up to about 4ft.  Best near high tide. A great wave if you have a fish. Remember to drop like a pancake if you fall off to avoid getting slammed onto a rock. 

4. Cliffbanger's Point

Cliffbanger's Point is a reef break perfect for long boards. It's a big paddle out though - about 200m. It's between the south end of Long Beach and Relax Bay.  A beautifully clean and fun wave.  It's reefy, but the water depth is about 2 or 3 metres at low tide (which is the only time it works), so no issues with getting smashed on rocks when it's small. But on bigger days as seen in the second and third images below, watch out unless you want to look like you've been playing slip 'n slide on a cheese grater!  In the first image the waves look tiny from afar, but it's about 2 ft once out. A lot of fun.  I last surfed this in early November.  To access this break, you can walk through the Malee Seaview Villa complex to the beach, and it is the point to the left. 
 

Cliffbanger's PointKoh Lanta surfing when its big

There are definitely breaks down the mid to southern end of Koh Lanta. I lived at Long Beach, so naturally surfed there because I didn't have a car to search for waves in.  You can hire a tuk tuk and a long board fits in, or strap it to the roof if you're driving yourself.  

Surfing here has been amazing.  Back home in Sydney the problem is crowded breaks and aggro dicks in the line up. Here the only problem is getting tired from constantly catching waves.  

Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments and check out my instagram page @cliffbanger


 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) koh lanta low season scuba surf surfing thailand https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/11/surfing-in-koh-lanta-thailand Sun, 04 Nov 2018 04:22:52 GMT
Why I deleted my images off Adobe Stock https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/8/why-i-deleted-my-images-off-adobe-stock Woohoo!  So today I made my first image sale on Adobe Stock and I was a little excited. Until I saw how much commission I received. $0.18.   

On Adobe Stock, the customer gets 3 images per month for their $30 subscription. They can download the image and print if they want.  So buyers can get a beautiful images for peanuts. The creator gets peanuts in return.  

Lucky I'm in Thailand and the money will go further.  0.18 USD is approximately 6 Bhat. At the markets here, 5 bhat will get me a small bag of cooked sticky rice, which I do love. With the remaining 1 bhat I may have to go begging for soy sauce, I can't live without it when eating sticky rice.   Sadly there is so much good Thai food at the markets that I can't afford. I will have to drop pants for the fried chicken.  

Looking at the other stock images on Adobe Stock under the same category and tags as my image, the majority were rubbish so I feel like my images have been severely devalued against the others.   I have deleted my images apart from the very basic 'stock' images that I don't care about.  But they won't sell anyway.  

I've decided my best images should only be sold directly unless I find a middle man who can offer your a fair cut. Adobe Stock isn't one.  And it seems like a waste of time spending hours uploading to Adobe Stock for little in return. 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) adobe bondi kohlanta photographer photography scuba scuba diving stock swimwear sydney underwater https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/8/why-i-deleted-my-images-off-adobe-stock Fri, 10 Aug 2018 05:50:16 GMT
For the Prawn lovers. Hand Made Thai Dry Prawn Curry https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/8/prawns This isn't my usual style of post about scuba diving, marine life, or underwater photography.  I have too many hobbies, and one of the other less talked about is cooking.  Since staying in Koh Lanta for three months already I hadn't attempted a hand made Thai curry until now. Back home in Sydney I do these on special occasions, mainly because of the time it takes on all of the elements, and the physical side of hand making the curry paste on top of the rest of the prep and cooking. 

Over here I've become a regular at a small restaurant where only locals go. I've built a good relationship with the owners and am working on getting a session in their kitchen to see how they do it.  They make the most authentic Thai curries, not like that westernised rubbish you get at most restaurants. I cringe when I get serve up sweet chilly sauce at restaurants.  These curries are HOT too, and it killed me last week when I accidentally snorted a curry covered rice up my nose!   They are the real deal - eat with caution.  There are always a good selection of 'dry' curries, which I prefer over the coconut milk curries.  So this has inspired me to finally put the effort into making one.  I have never made a dry curry! Only the wet style.

I headed to the markets for some ocean caught prawns. Remembering learned advice from my mate Ned, who is a prawn connoisseur - "Always go for the youngest, freshest prawn. Look for a great body".  I picked up some juicy looking ocean caught prawns successfully! If Ned was here he would be jealous and try to cut my grass.   For 200 bhat (about AUD 8)  I got about half a kg.  Note, most of the prawns and fish at Koh Lanta are farmed! You need to ask for the ocean caught produce, and it costs more, but better than eating seafood that's fed with all sorts of junk including antibiotics.  Apparently they're fed with processed food made from fish and soy beans, and it takes about two pounds of fish to produce just one pound of prawn — so this doesn't seem sustainable either.  Aerial image below of a farm at Koh Lanta:

Aerial image of fish or prawn farm

Here's the finished paste which took about 20 minutes to pound.

Because I don't have my awesome Shun paring knife here, it took me a good 20 minutes to de-pootube and butterfly a dozen prawns! I chose to butterfly them because the flavour from the shells and heads would combine with the curry paste, and it gives the dish an authentic rustic Thai look. I decided to fry the prawns first to get them crispy (but in hindsight, this wasn't the best way to do it.  I should have just cooked them with the paste because the paste acts like an oil and the pan still produces a lot of heat, so it would have done the same job without adding an extra step and potentially overcooking the prawns).

I fried up some snake beans, extra lemon grass, finely shredded kaffir lime leaves, onion, and sugar. Added a bit of water to loosen it as the paste was sticking to the pan.  While all this cooking was going on I could hear Sarah in the background coughing from all the fumes of the spices. The flavours all come out and it really hits you.  That's part of the cooking experience of Thai curries. 

I added the cooked prawns to the cooked curry paste and beans etc, and loosened it more with a few splashes of water.   And below is the end result.

Here's the recipe I used for the red curry paste. 

  • 10 small cloves of garlic
  • 8 dry red spur chilies
  • a teaspoon of white peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon corriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 fresh coriander roots
  • 2 finely sliced lemon grass
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon galangal
  • 1/2 peel kaffir lime

Give it a try sometime, it's impressive!  A fresh hand made curry is far superior to a machine ground curry made in a factory, and all the effort you put into it adds to the satisfaction.   Sarah and I were very happy with my first attempt on a dry curry.  

 

 

 

  

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) authentic curry diving hand kids koh lanta made portraits prawns scuba swimwear thai thailand traveling underwater https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/8/prawns Sun, 05 Aug 2018 02:32:39 GMT
DOING TIME AT THE KOH LANTA POLICE STATION https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/5/doing-time-at-the-koh-lanta-police-station What was I doing at the cop shop, I can’t tell you, it’s police business. OK I’m going to tell you.  I’ve been there four times in the past week. This time I was doing lunch.

I’m a licensed drone pilot, and I wanted to get registered to fly in Thailand.  Here you can go to the local police who will pass on the application to the Civil Aviation Authority and also National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which apparently takes a few months to process.   It’s a massive hassle to get a permit in Thailand, more so than in Australia surprisingly, but I do like that I’ve only seen one guy with a drone so far in my four weeks here. They’re not buzzing around dangerously close to people like back home in Sydney.

A couple of days ago I was at the station (this was attempt 2, attempt one was the weekend and they told me to come back Monday) and saw a tuk tuk driver waiting in there. This guy had tried to rip me off the other day, so I walked up to him and cheekily said “So you’re in trouble again for ripping off passengers”. He just nodded at me.  (I like how no one knows I’m being facetious here).  There were a few people waiting to see the admin cop, so I decided to come back the next day.

      I said "Say cheese", so they started looking round for cheese

Which brings me to attempt four.  I was taken away from the main building to the back office by a senior officer.  What did he want from me, was he going to deputise me to help solve an especially heinous island crime?

Out the back we tried to communicate.  No one at the police station speaks English. Only a couple of words, so we use google translate and grunting with some hand signals to communicate.  Not sure what was really being said but they told me to come back (AGAIN!) for what I oddly thought was a lunch invite and also to take pictures of their police station. I fully understand the words “gin kaow” which means eat food – being half Thai these were important words for me to know as a boy.  That’s all I could assume from our communications.

Just before I left, the police chief was walking in, and the less senior cops were all saying to me “BOSS BOSS BOSS”.  Hilarious.  So anyway I came back at 12 and headed out to the back of the station, the senior officer greeted me and led me to the table to sit down for lunch with a dozen or so cops.  It was just a weird and amusing situation! I wanted to take a group photo but thought I might be pushing it. So I just took this food shot.  Noodles, beef curry, and some sort of vegetable curry. Very hot. I liked it and had seconds.

So after lunch we grunted a bit because I was very confused and wasn’t sure if the senior officer was telling me to go home or to fly the drone, so I got out google translate again, which confirmed that he wanted me to take some shots of the station.  The last thing I asked him on translate was “I don’t have a permit yet, please don’t put me in jail?”  They laughed.  So we went off to the open area out back of the station and I set up the bird in front of about ten cops.  What happened after that is classified police business.

So do I have my permit now and are they doing anything with all the paperwork I provided?  Who knows.

The cop was really a good guy and said I could come back for lunch any time. At least that’s how I interpreted it!   I’m laughing a bit about all this. It has really added to what I love about Thailand experiences.

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) dive dji drone koh lanta permit photography police scuba services thailand underwater https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/5/doing-time-at-the-koh-lanta-police-station Thu, 24 May 2018 09:22:00 GMT
72 Hours in Koh Lanta https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/5/72-hours-in-koh-lanta The highly anticipated time had arrived, after a full day of travel by road to Bangkok airport from Hua Hin, then a flight to Krabi and then a private transfer via the car ferry to Koh Lanta, we had finally arrived at Koh Lanta. It was late, dark and we had no bearings of where we were. The next morning I got up a bit before six (I’m still working on Sydney time) and walked down to the resorts ocean-side restaurant to have a quick first look around and then get stuck into work.

Cat koh lanta

Wow. Way better than what I had seen online.  Views of one of my favourite places to visit, Phi Phi island, in the distance, calm ocean and the sounds of waves breaking, the sun was rising over the ranges behind me, so it was still cool, with soft morning light. I made friends with a cat.

I had felt like I had been in limbo while staying at Hua Hin previously for a week and really didn’t like it there. Finally I felt like I was in the right place and we’d reached the goal we’d been working towards for the last six months.  So I took in the surroundings for a few minutes, then got to work (I’m a recruiter and its not fun)….five seconds later I felt like someone had run over my testicles with a tuk tuk!

Nice taking breaks during the work day and being able to swim in the resort pool, and not having to deal with traveling to work, and that 333 bus that sometimes never showed up!  Working beach side is good for a while but I’ll be heading to the co-working space here so I can focus more, once we’ve found a place to rent long term.

Some unusual sights so far – mostly on the road – I almost ran over a large monitor lizard while driving; I’ve seen a few monkeys running across the road, mother and baby elephant roadside, a white horse, frogs jumping across the road; and guy 10m up a coconut tree – climbing with his bare hands and wearing jeans.

Doing a beach run and exploring at sunrise I found a family fishing for shellfish, followed by this sunrise.

 

This family parked their bike on the beach.  Waverly Council wouldn’t be happy. Family collecting shell fish. Koh Lanta

This family parked their bike on the beach.  Waverly Council wouldn’t be happy!

Motorbike on Beach at Koh Lanta

I love it here already.  It obviously has its frustrations and bad points, like last night, I was badly raped by mosquitoes, they didn’t miss any place on my whole body and work has been a real bitch from lack of sleep.

My Thai speaking skills are pathetic, and English/Thai comms has caused a few minor issues which were sometimes blessings in disguise.  Waitress asked me if I wanted another beer, I said no thanks, just the one. So she went and opened another one for me.  Thailand problems.

It’s hot – really hot but I kind of love and hate that.   There aren’t many health facilities like back home,  and I have a new back injury from folding up the pram, so where do I go for treatment?  And for my buggered wrist?  Koh Lanta isn’t known for its hand specialists.

I like the friendly Thai’s and how they love Charlie. This school girl was a bit too obsessed and I thought of Newman from Seinfeld for some reason.  Charlie was keen to get away from her.

Newman

A kind of funny (in a slapstick Funniest Home Videos Thailand type of way) thing happened when a Thai mum and her little kid just got out of the pool we were at. She was leading her son along and saying goodbye to Charlie at the same time.  As they walked past happily waving goodbye, thud, she had walked the kid straight into a coconut tree.  Silence, then a few seconds later the crying started.  Yep, there are no cultural differences when it comes to children in pain and the delayed crying phenomena.  It looked something like this:

I wanted to say to her “Sorry my boy is so cute you made your boy walk into a coconut tree.” That would be difficult to say in Thai.

Today is the first day we haven’t pigged out on buffet.  Must be a sign we’re settling in.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) diving kids koh lanta maternity photography portraits scuba swimwear thailand traveling underwater https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/5/72-hours-in-koh-lanta Sun, 06 May 2018 09:11:00 GMT
Goodbye Bondi. We're heading to Koh Lanta https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/4/goodbyebondi For the next six months I'm taking a slightly different route. With partner, Sarah Howie and our 13 month son, Charlie, we’re taking time out of Sydney to be based in Thailand to live life differently and to travel Asia the slow way (especially when you have kids in tow).

Why are we doing it?

We’re from Bondi in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Its famous for its beaches, and for it’s expensive rent and hoards of tourists. Whilst we love our lifestyle there, when our baby joined our little unit last year, we decided to seize the moment and seek out the opportunities overseas for a while.

About four months before we booked our flights, we were having a drink, chatting about our current situation and how we felt about it.  Leo had just pulled out of investing in a property, and that opened up a discussion on what the opportunities might be.   Living on one wage in one of the most expensive suburbs in Australia was getting us down and we felt we could do things differently. As with any big decision it came from needing to make changes, we thought…what is it we both love doing? The answer is traveling and taking photos and sharing stories. So we thought, why not throw all of these together and do it? Our first obstacle to overcome was that babies like routine and take a lot of planning. So we decided – rather than travel, why not move somewhere…

We are both seasoned solo travelers with years of travelling under our belt, including the America’s, Europe and large chunks of Asia, however we haven’t traveled a lot as a couple and besides a quick 3 week visit to New Zealand last year with a seven week old baby, we haven’t traveled with a child before. So add all of these elements up and you can see there was a strong push/ pull from all directions for us to get our hiking boots on and jump on a plane and travel (slowly) around Asia.

Why Thailand?

The next question was where to? First we naturally thought of countries we haven’t been to. As a parent of a young baby, the idea of throwing your baby through a window on a moving bus to get to the next destination terrified me, so we decided to choose somewhere a little more sedate for our first go at this. Sri Lanka was our first thought but we feared it may be a little too much as our first attempt but we liked the idea of paradise on a shoestring budget…we listed some countries with similar features and Thailand popped into our heads.

It doesn’t hurt that Leo’s mum is Thai and he had been to Thailand with his mum as a kid and several times as an adult drinking buckets on an island with mates. Sarah had been once with her family as an adult (more of a premium holiday, stunning resorts and classy restaurants). We both felt we could go again and get something new out of it, plus Thailand is baby friendly – they love children and there is a Thailand for everyone….including seasoned travelers who are on a shoestring budget but like to splurge every now and then…..it doesn’t matter what you earn to be able to wake up in Paradise every day, live life just that little bit slower (we are here in The Green Season aka the Wet Season), learn the language, eat the local food, get to know the culture and spend time (proper time) with your child and avoid the hectic commute to work each day.

What to expect?

We are now on the road! Our belongings are in storage, our lease ended, we have packed (too many things – because ‘baby’ oh and ahh, Leo’s huge drone and underwater photography gear) and we are here in Thailand.

Please join along by reading our blog as we all discover this new life together. Just to manage expectations, we are not trying to change the world, just ourselves at this point. We hope to perhaps inspire you with some beautiful images, some colorful stories and laugh along at our toddler who does some funny things sometimes.

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) beach bondi koh lanta scuba thailand https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2018/4/goodbyebondi Sat, 28 Apr 2018 08:42:00 GMT
Clifton Gardens Diving https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2017/9/bondi-diving Peered down at the surface of Clifton Gardens and watched a dozen or so cuttlefish dance. Fun fact, the larger male cuttlefish mate with the females by grabbing them with their tentacles, turning the female so that the two animals are face-to-face, then using a specialized tentacle to insert sperm sacs into an opening near the female's mouth.

Spending more time down the beach, saw these other creatures too. Saw this crab with cuttlefish.

Crabs communicate by flapping their pincers or drumming their claws. They can walk in any direction, but they usually move sideways when in hurry. Saw a cornet fish too. Some call it Rifle fish but I'd rather call them Gollum. Look at those eyes staring.

And this little creature that can scarf down up to 3,000 brine shrimp per day. I wonder if this one has a mate nearby? Seahorse usually swim in pairs with their tails intertwined together. 

Can't get near this puffer fish which is more poisonous than a cyanide. Amazingly, some kinds of puffer fish are considered a delicacy called fugu in Japan which is delicately prepared by licensed and trained chefs only.

Also encountered this male leatherjacket fish. You'll know its gender by their colour. This kind of fish can easily be locate and simple to catch too. They'll take soft plastic as a bait.

 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) adventure beach bondi creatures diving dji photography scuba sea https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2017/9/bondi-diving Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:32:56 GMT
Turning your hobby into a paid job https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2017/9/turning-your-hobby-into-a-paid-job It is challenging to find a ‘good’ job but it’s even more difficult to find a job that you'll love.  Of course, many of us want to get a job that we will enjoy doing every day. Something that is relevant to our skills and won’t make us feel like we are dragged into going to work. We all want to do what we love to do and at the same time get paid for it. A dream job right?


So how do you turn your passion into a career? In my case, it wasn’t my choice to become a recruiter, but it was my choice to specialize in telecommunications infrastructure recruitment since I have interest in engineering. After my first long term job after university, I received an offer to join an agency and focus on telecommunications recruitment during Telstra’s huge 3G roll out in 2006. It does not sound like a passion, but the interest was enough for me to fall into recruitment and stick with it.

Solomon Islands

My real interest and passion is actually in adventure and nature and capturing photos in those environments. Growing up near the sea and mountain defined me to be adventurous and enjoy activities in the water. I was encouraged to scuba dive by my sister who is a dive instructor, and also a good friend from New Zealand who would dive for crayfish and often give me one or two from his catch. Because I wanted to capture the beauty underwater and wanted to add challenge to my diving, I started underwater photography in 2009. I self-taught and bought an entry level DSLR and underwater housing, and started capturing shots.  My first trip as a photographer was to the Solomon Islands in 2009.   Soon after, a few of my friends encouraged me to put my shots up online. I created my underwater website and kept building my portfolio and skills. As an adventurous person, I have traveled to many different locations and have built skills in photographing landscapes and portraits for my portfolio.

Eventually, I was approached by a colleague to do some commercial photography for a client. And coincidentally in the same week, a friend asked me to do some head shot work for her company, and before I realized, it had become a second job. Customers were also approaching me for underwater photography. I had doubts and reservations about my ability at first and I owe a lot to the people that encouraged me, gave me confidence, and got me started. I think that encouragement is one of the biggest gifts you can give someone.

I also dreamed of becoming a pilot when I was in primary school, and I wanted to add a different perspective in photography, so I thought of combining my passion for photography and technology into using drones. I took up aerial photography and got myself certified by CASA. It turns out that UAV’s have many applications into telecommunications infrastructure, so it’s a great way to combine my work in telecommunications and photography. I have been enjoying the technical aspect of surveying radio base station towers, while combining my photography skills.

At first it seems like it is not easy to be a telecommunications recruiter and photographer at the same time, but when you repeatedly do the things that you are initially uncomfortable doing, you can easily overcome challenges. Having both skill sets gives me the opportunity to use both sides of my brain combining business with creativity. It also gives me variety and job satisfaction.

 

I decided to take a career path based on my interests and build my own companies. I have built Digital Life Technologies so the services offered are tailored fit to my specializations as a telecommunications infrastructure recruiter and also providing telecommunications services such as aerial survey.  And I recently launched Bondi Bird www.bondibird.com where the services are based on my passion for photography, diving, flying, and adventure.


A piece of advice for those who want to turn their hobby into a paid job - keep working on it in your spare time while you’re getting paid in your primary job. Keep updated with new trends around you and see if you can integrate your hobby into your primary job. It can all develop from there. And remember to support and encourage others, hopefully it will come back at you.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) aerial bondi dive diving drone hobby photography recruitment scuba telecommunications travel https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2017/9/turning-your-hobby-into-a-paid-job Thu, 14 Sep 2017 03:54:49 GMT
Rare fur seal dive encounter in Sydney https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2016/10/rare-new-zealand-fur-seals-dive-in-sydney Lucky day out for us. We stumbled on a herd of New Zealand fur seals sheltering from strong winds (on Saturday 1st October), located a few hundred metres south of The Gap (near Watson's Bay, Sydney).  We were very lucky to see them because our original plan was canceled - we were on our way to Maroubra Beach to dive with the grey nurse shark colony, but the sea was too rough to dive there.  Very disappointed that we weren’t able to do the shark dive,  we ended up doing one dive at The Gap, where it was sheltered from the wind.  This was a very average dive, mainly due to the cold conditions underwater, and I was regretting my decision to come!   

For our second dive we started traveling a few hundred metres south of The Gap when the skipper spotted some seals taking refuge from the strong winds in this sheltered area. A few seals were sunbathing on the rocks at the waters edge, and some just in the water floating in one spot.  

We decided to dive there and this was a very rare thing to experience in Sydney so we were pumped!  Normally you have to drive several hours away to dive with seals, so for this to happen it was an amazing turn of events!

The trip went from being below average to the best I’ve had in Sydney. The seals were inquisitive, playful, and not at all timid.  I was able to get about one metre away - without being bitten.  There was a large seal which I stayed a bit further back from.  There were also a few sunbathing on the rocks at the water’s edge, which were oblivious to me approaching less than a metre away.

Sometimes the seals would approach me directly at high speed, then suddenly swerve and dive to the bottom.  

It was so exhilarating to experience this.  Sydney really is a diverse place to dive, and full of surprises.

To see the full set of photos from this dive click here http://lennycliffbanger.com/p625315741

Have you had any rare or exciting encounters with marine life in Sydney? Feel free to leave a comment or questions. 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) fur seal new zealand fur seal scuba dive scuba diving seal seal dive sydney https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2016/10/rare-new-zealand-fur-seals-dive-in-sydney Wed, 05 Oct 2016 01:05:20 GMT
Sharks and shrinkage at Magic Point (south Maroubra Beach). And humpback whales! https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/7/sharks-at-magic-point-south-maroubra-beach A chilly day out in the water, but the sharks and whales were out. This curious grey nurse shark came right up to me.  Also saw a weedy sea dragon, a port jackson shark, 3 wobbegong shark and a cuttlefish. Magic point delivered the goods. 

The water was too cold for me to care about taking photos so I skipped the second dive and watched humpback whales migrating.

Grey nurse shark at Magic Point

Grey Nurse SharkGrey nurse at Magic Point, Sydney.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) grey nurse shark humpback whales magic point maroubra shark https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/7/sharks-at-magic-point-south-maroubra-beach Sun, 12 Jul 2015 05:20:23 GMT
Big wobbegong at Gordons Bay https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/6/big-wobbygong-at-gordons-bay Underwater its just them and me, the relaxing sound of water flowing, and my camera shutter clicking away. Check out the video of the big wobbegong I saw on my dive last week at Gordons Bay and you might get how relaxing it feels and sounds down there.  Below are the still shots too. 

Video - Gordons Bay 15 JuneBig wobbegongs

I saw two wobbegongs on this dive. This fat wobbegong must have been close to three metres.  Sydney diving in winter has been awesome over the last couple of weeks - great viz, the water's not too cold, and sun's out. Gordons Bay is in a good position for when the sun is getting low, so towards magic hour you get some nice light beams breaking through the surface. There was a bit of swell coming in, so during the exit I was hit by some waves and had a few cuts on my hands after being swept into some rocks. Good fun.

Here's a three bar porcupine fish, always shy. I can never get a front on shot of them...

The sun was coming down, heading through the bay and creating some cool lighting. There's a school of some small fish that were transparent. 

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) gordons bay shark sydney shore dive wobbegong https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/6/big-wobbygong-at-gordons-bay Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:27:42 GMT
New shots from an old trip to Iran https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/5/iran-shots-found Looking over some old files and found some gems that I never got round to processing. My friends will say, "Here he goes again going on about his trip to Iran".  I can't get enough of it. When I was there I explored during the day and at night rushed through my day's shots and processed my favourites in my hotel room. I never got round to looking at all the RAW files again until now.  Here's a few of them from scuba diving in the Persian Gulf and my road trip from Shiraz to Tehran. The full set is available in my 'on land' shots folder titled "Iran 2".  

Shipwreck at KishShipwreck at Kish Friendly NomadFriendly Nomad

Up Soffeh MountainUp Soffeh Mountain

Nudibranc below the oil rigNudibranc below the oil rigSwam 200 meters from shore to the oil rig. This nudi was the highlight...

Imam SquareImam Square

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Iran mt Tochal nomad nudibranc persian gulf road trip scuba dive iran https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/5/iran-shots-found Sat, 30 May 2015 06:23:03 GMT
Dive 28 Feb. https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/dive-28-feb Long dive today. 96 minutes and 3 wizzes later I was getting hungry. Looking at the baby calamari during this dive I was wondering which is a more noble way to end a calamari life. Ending up as a gourmet dish on my dinner table, or being eaten at sea and coming out of a groper's anus?  And as if the baby squid could read my mind, he says to me "gropers anus!" then swam away.  Never had that happen before. 

Does anyone else think this looks like some sort of alien with a large probe floating in space, or have I had too many beers?

Baby Southern CalamariBaby Southern CalamariBaby southern calamari peacefully travel over the very calm sea

More aliens.... I was having a lot of fun down there. Came up with 20bar 96 minutes later. Don't tell PADI. Oh and I was diving solo too.

Baby Southern Calamari showing off its colorBaby Southern Calamari showing off its colorBaby Southern Calamari showing off its color. It really compliments the color of the sea.

Solo. And below are some garfish.

Garfish, more like needlesGarfish, more like needlesGarfish is also known as sea needle. Does anyone know why?

And more baby southern calamari

Baby Southern Calamari alone in this huge angleBaby Southern Calamari alone in this huge angleBaby Southern Calamari alone. Where are his friends?

Baby Southern Calamari going deepBaby Southern Calamari going deepBaby Southern Calamari going deep in the sea. Planning to reach seabed.

Baby Southern Calamari, a different viewBaby Southern Calamari, a different viewA different view of Baby Southern Calamari.

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Gordons Bay diving Sydney scuba diving shore dive sydney southern calamari https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/dive-28-feb Sat, 28 Feb 2015 09:11:05 GMT
Back at Gordons Bay and missed out shooting devil rays! https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/back-at-gordons-bay-again Another amazing day at Gordons Bay. Took out my macro lens today for the first time in about 2 years to try some close up photography. Out at about 10m deep, I couldn't believe it when 5 devil rays (they may have been eagle rays but I'm pretty sure they were devils) approached me. Never seen any thing like this before at Gordons Bay or in Australia for that matter. I've only seen them overseas in Solomon islands and Malaysia/Borneo. So you can imagine my excitement (like a Star Trek nerd discovering a secret episode in the box set while losing his virginity at the same time). I made a few happy grunting like sounds into my reg, then fumbled with my camera. Too bad I screwed up the opportunity to get some shots of this rare sighting - my camera wouldn't focus since it was set up with a 60mm macro lens, so no pics, no evidence. By the time I changed settings to try and video them they were gone.  

I did get a few shots of some southern calamari and a large flathead. Brushing up on my macro skills I got close up to a common stingray which was buried in the sand. Viz was only about 10 meters at best, with some surge. Water temp was nice at about 23 degrees. Maybe the warm water is bringing the rays down our way.

 

Two Baby Southern CalamariTwo Baby Southern CalamariBaby Southern Calamari exploring the sea Common string ray

Southern Calamari in SydneySouthern Calamari in SydneyThis Southern Calamari shows me how he swims. Southern Calamari in SydneySouthern Calamari in SydneyA Southern Calamari follows the other. Flathead

 

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Gordons Bay flathead southern calamari sting ray https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/back-at-gordons-bay-again Sun, 15 Feb 2015 11:52:40 GMT
Gordon's Bay 08 Feb 2015 https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/gordons-bay Excellent diving conditions at Gordon's Bay on 08/02/15. What a perfect day in the water, I did one 60 minute dive then headed back to Bondi and surfed for a couple of hours. Water temp must have been around 23 degrees, and visibility up to 20 meters in some spots.  Gordon's Bay is becoming my favourite local shore dive. The highlight this time was a school of baby squid.  I was also followed by one of the friendly resident blue groper, which wedged itself between two rocks (pic below) and was sort of 'rubbing' itself against them. 

Baby squid My friend Ray. bahahahaa Stone fish Pigmy leatherjacket Blue groper having a rub between rocks. Common stingrayCommon stingrayCommon stingray, just like a plane preparing for flight

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Bay' Gordon baby squid diving Sydney scuba diving shore dive sydney southern calamari https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2015/2/gordons-bay Mon, 09 Feb 2015 00:21:57 GMT
I annoyed this cuttlefish for a while today and got some good colours https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/12/i-annoyed-this-cuttlefish-for-a-while-today Dived at Clifton Gardens (in Sydney) today. Murky water after all the storms and not much to see there so I just harassed this cuttlefish for a while. Good colors from a cuttlefishGood colors from a cuttlefishA good color of this cuttlefish was captured as I annoyed him.

Cuttlefish covered with sea sandCuttlefish covered with sea sandThis cuttlefish was covered by sea sand as it reached the seabed.

Cuttlefish - top viewCuttlefish - top viewThis is how a cuttlefish looks like on a top view. Hard-colored cuttlefishHard-colored cuttlefishThis cuttlefish seems to have a hard cover yet showing the beauty of its color. Lighted cuttlefishLighted cuttlefishThese cuttlefishes showed some lights.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) chowder bay clifton gardens cuttlefish scuba diving scuba diving sydney https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/12/i-annoyed-this-cuttlefish-for-a-while-today Sun, 07 Dec 2014 10:27:51 GMT
Night Climbing Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador. https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/11/climbing-mount-cotopaxi Video clip of our Cotopaxi climb.

"...I had snotsicles on my snotsicles"  November 13, 2013 I climbed to the summit of Mt Cotopaxi (5897 metres) with a bloke called Richard from Tasmania and our local guide Diego from Ecuador. Cotopaxi is the 2nd highest active volcano in the world. Diego told us only about 25% of climbers reach the summit. Most turn back because of fatigue and/or altitude sickness. I heard on average 1 climber dies each month attempting the summit. It takes around 6 hours to reach the summit. We somehow did it in 5 hours. 

Hiking to base camp

We hiked up to Jose F. Ribas Refuge (base camp at 4800m), ate dinner and went to bed right after to try and sleep. Most people were doing their best to get rest, but it was impossible with everyone else in the cabin nervous getting up to go to the toilet, rustling bags, and I remember one guy letting rip a huge fart which normally have a laugh about, but thought "Is that necessary!!" 

Dinner timeDinner timeThis is at the Jose F. Ribas refuge (base camp at 4800m), ate dinner and went to bed right after to try and sleep. After getting no sleep, we got up for breakfast at midnight, then gear up. We left base camp at 1am harnessed and roped up together with our ice axes, crampons, helmets, head lamps, ropes, carabiners, Oreos and hot tea in our flasks. I couldn't believe we were climbing a notoriously dangerous mountain at night. It was freezing, with strong winds, ice and snow. I had snotsicles on my snotsicles.

The climb was grueling. The three of us were linked up by rope, Diego leading, Richard in the middle and me at the back. So if Richard or I lost control Diego would be there to stop us all from falling.  If Diego lost control we would be screwed. I didn't really enjoy much of it due to the immense physical drain and a head ache gradually increasing because of the altitude, but at the same time it was exciting and an amazing thing to be doing. I spent a lot of the climb telling myself to keep breathing and battle against the altitude, hoping it wouldn't kill me. I was worried the head ache could become extreme and my brain could hemorrhage. Each step was tiring, keeping in mind we weren't walk normally, we were kind of side ways criss-crossing our legs step by step, and it's uphill on ice or snow with the wind howling to make it even more difficult. And its pitch black most of the way up apart from the light from our headlamp! This was the most challenging thing I've ever done, mentally and physically. The higher we climbed the more intense the altitude sickness effected me. My whole body felt slow and heavy, I struggled to even lift my drink bottle up to my face when we stopped each hour for a three minute break.

It was around 5.30 am once we got to the last 200m. We started getting some light. This part of the climb was very steep, almost vertical, we had to pull ourselves up using our ice axes. I was exhausted but kept going and finally at around 6am we reached the summit, the pain in my head disappeared and it felt amazing to be up there at 5897m. Hugs all round. The views were incredible, the sun had just risen above the clouds.

Glad to reach this farGlad to reach this farThis is a very unusual victory for mountain climbers.

Caldera viewCaldera viewView of the caldera

Summit of Mt CotopaxiSummit of Mt CotopaxiNovember 13, 2013 I climbed to the summit of Mt Cotopaxi (5897 metres) with a dude called Richard from Tasmania and our local guide Diego from Ecuador. Cotopaxi is the 2nd highest active volcano in the world. Diego told us only about 25% of climbers reach the summit. Most turn back because of fatigue and/or altitude sickness. I heard on average 1 climber dies each month attempting the summit. It takes around 6 hours to reach the summit. We somehow did it in 5 hours.

We hiked up to Jose F. Ribas Refuge (base camp at 4800m), ate dinner and went to bed right after to try and sleep. Most people were doing their best to get rest, but it was impossible with everyone else in the cabin nervous getting up to go to the toilet, rustling bags, and I remember one guy letting rip a huge fart which normally I would find quite funny but thought "Is that bloody necessary!!"

After getting no sleep, we got up for breakfast at midnight, then gear up. We left base camp at 1am harnessed and roped up together with our ice axes, crampons, helmets, head lamps, ropes, carabiners, Oreos and hot tea in our flasks. I couldn't believe we were climbing a notoriously dangerous mountain at night. It was freezing, with strong winds, ice and snow. I had snotsicles on my snotsicles.
The climb was grueling. The three of us were linked up by rope, Diego leading, Richard in the middle and me at the back. So if Richard or I lost control Diego would be there to stop us all from falling. If Diego lost control we would be screwed. I didn't really enjoy much of it due to the immense physical drain and a head ache gradually increasing because of the altitude, but at the same time it was exciting and an amazing thing to be doing. I spent a lot of the climb telling myself to keep breathing and battle against the altitude, hoping it wouldn't kill me. I was worried the head ache could become extreme and my brain could hemorrhage. Each step was tiring, keeping in mind we weren't walk normally, we were kind of side ways criss-crossing our legs step by step, and it's uphill on ice or snow with the wind howling to make it even more difficult. And its pitch black most of the way up apart from the light from our headlamp! This was the most challenging thing I've ever done, mentally and physically. The higher we climbed the more intense the altitude sickness effected me. My whole body felt slow and heavy, I struggled to even lift my drink bottle up to my face when we stopped each hour for a three minute break.
It was around 5.30 am once we got to the last 200m. We started getting some light. This part of the climb was very steep, almost vertical, we had to pull ourselves up using our ice axes. I was exhausted but kept going and finally at around 6am we reached the summit, the pain in my head disappeared and it felt amazing to be up there at 5897m. Hugs all round. The views were incredible, the sun had just risen above the clouds.
After some quick photos, 5 minutes later we linked up again and set off for the decent. The 2 hour trip down was a lot easier apart from the excruciating pain in my head with every step I took! That was radical! Back at base camp I said to myself I never want to do anything like that again. Now being back in the real world I can't wait to get back out for another adventure.

DiegoDiego

Richard

After some quick photos, 5 minutes later we linked up again and set off for the decent. The 2 hour trip down was a lot easier apart from the excruciating pain in my head with every step I took!  That was radical! Back at base camp I said to myself I never want to do anything like that again. Now being back in the real world I can't wait to get back out for another adventure.

Sit back and relaxSit back and relaxSit back and relax on this snowy mountain. No, still mountain climbing.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) altitude sickness ecuador ecuador tourism mount cotopaxi mountaineering mt cotopaxi quito secret garden volcano https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/11/climbing-mount-cotopaxi Tue, 18 Nov 2014 22:30:00 GMT
Catching dinner https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/11/catching-dinner Back in NZ visiting old man Clifford in New Plymouth. I took a couple of hours off work to check out the seal colony at the Sugar Loaf Islands (aka Nga Mutu). The Sugar Loafs are a group of five small islands which are a protected marine park. Lots of fish for seals to thrive on.  I went out with my dad and his mate Chaddy (who owns Chaddy's Charters).  He pulled up a few crays in his pot - outside the marine park of course.

Catching dinnerCatching dinnerThese men are ready to catch crayfish for dinner

The Sugar Loafs are a breading colony for New Zealand fur seals.  Old man Clifford reckons there's a great white shark lurking out there that feeds on the seals. I had one of my first scuba dives down there years ago, glad I didn't know that back then.  

NZ fur sealNZ fur seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two fur sealsTwo fur sealsFound these two fur seals enjoying the splash of water.

First batch of crayfishFirst batch of crayfishFirst batch of crayfish for dinner

Crayfish transferCrayfish transferCrayfish transfer to have the second batch

Nice catchNice catchThese crayfishes are good for dinner.

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) crayfish fur seals new plymouth sugar loafs https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/11/catching-dinner Mon, 10 Nov 2014 10:45:54 GMT
My last dive trip - Sipadan - Is it worth diving? https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/8/my-last-dive-trip---sipadan Green turtle sparkling with natural lightGreen turtle sparkling with natural lightGreen turtle sparkling with a natural light. This creature captured the natural color of the sea and the light from the sun. After recently diving the Galapagos, it was a toss-up whether or not to go to Sipadan. I'm skeptical about most dive locations no matter how highly they're ranked. All operators talk up how good their sites are no matter what.  Sipadan was close by to where I was living at the time (Myanmar), so that ultimately made the choice for me.

If you like the backpacker scene, there's a pretty good set up at Scuba Junkies, based on Mabul.  I had a few nights in cheap share dorms, and a few nights to myself in a deluxe room with aircon and hammock on the front porch which was perfect after a day of diving. There's also a beach out the front of the resort, unlike many of the other resorts that are built amongst the village or on stilts above the water.

To my surprise, divers only get allocated one day diving at Sipadan island, so most of the dives are around Mabul and Kapalai.  It's mostly macro diving, and the conditions make it great for macro photography.  Other than macro diving, I was lucky to see about 70 devil rays, dolphins during our surface interval, and an soldier armed with a M4 assault rifle who was stationed on Kapalai island protecting us from pirates following recent kidnappings.  I made friends with the soldier and traded stories about the time I went to Nam.

Scuba Junkies have a turtle sanctuary where they collect eggs. I watched 70 green turtle eggs hatch in the nursery, adopted one (named Coleen after my nana) and released it. Only one in one thousand survive to maturity. Good luck Coleen.

In the end I managed to get two days diving Sipadan after another diver pulled out sick.  If you like shooting turtles then Sipadan is the place to go. It has great conditions. Light and visibility are excellent, and no surge on the reef. Up to 70 metres viz in some spots. Loads of turtles! The other main attractions are large school of jacks and trevally, but to me this is not very exciting. I did a couple of dives where I took no photos!  Despite this, I had an awesome time. For me, the place is perfect for a fun dive holiday, great relaxing on the beach after diving, but not the best place to go for adventure divers or wide angle photographers. 

 

 

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[email protected] (Leo Clifford Photography) Sipadan borneo green turtles scuba diving turtles https://www.leoclifford.com/blog/2014/8/my-last-dive-trip---sipadan Sun, 10 Aug 2014 23:23:44 GMT