“The World of Blackwater” by Mike Bartick

“The World of Blackwater” by Mike Bartick


For the previous decade, Californian Mike Bartick has lived within the Philippines, the place he works because the resident picture professional on the well-known Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao. As one of many pioneers of the blackwater diving scene, Mike has spent a whole lot of hours diving within the abyss together with his digital camera, and after six years of artistic picture making he not too long ago launched his a lot anticipated e-book, The World of Blackwater: An Illustrated Information to the Life and Strategies of Blackwater Scuba Diving in Anilao, Philippines.


Diamond squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus)


The 263-page e-book begins with a foreword by David Johnson, ichthyologist and curator of fishes on the Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past, Smithsonian Institute. David has studied the larvae of marine fish for the previous 40 years, and makes the crucial level that blackwater diving has remodeled his work and revolutionized his analysis. As a substitute of inspecting specimens collected from the deep, he now will get to be taught extra about these critters utilizing underwater images taken throughout blackwater dives. Mike then presents his personal introduction to blackwater diving, the place he explains how he began out capturing at evening, and why he loves doing it. He discusses his early experiments with the downline tools and his digital camera gear, and the way he tailored his strategies over time to show the exercise right into a profitable business enterprise for others to get pleasure from at Crystal Blue Resort.

The fundamentals of blackwater diving are easy sufficient: Zooplankton head to the ocean’s floor for nourishment after darkish earlier than returning to the abyss at dawn. This every day migration happens each evening in each ocean that may be separated into three zones, the daylight zone, the twilight zone and the deep ocean. A lot of the migrating zooplankton is made up of crustaceans, mollusks and larval fish, and by heading out into deep water at evening, divers can encounter a few of this mysterious marine life by attracting it to shallow water utilizing brilliant lights hooked up to a drifting line.


The primary chapter of the e-book explains how you can arrange a blackwater dive and what tools you want


The Downline

Not like different books that simply present you nice pictures, Mike begins by documenting precisely how the dive is carried out and how you can arrange the downline and lights. Aspiring blackwater divers can be taught all they should know to get began on this e-book, together with what tools you want, when to dive and the place. I, for one, intend to comply with his directions and arrange a blackwater line quickly, and the very first thing I noticed is that I’m going to want extra lights—heaps extra lights! Mike recommends that you just add a minimal of at the very least 100,000 lumens of sunshine to every line, so it’s not shocking this attracts the eye of the critters beneath! Different small particulars which might be vital to profitable blackwater dives are defined, together with soaking the traces to permit a plankton cloud to develop, and the place to do that to extend your possibilities of success. After discussing the mechanics of blackwater diving, the remainder of the e-book is separated into galleries of various creatures, showcasing a whole lot of Mike’s superior pictures and offering beneficial details about every topic.


The holy grail of blackwater cephalapods, the blanket octopus (Tramoctopus gracilis)


Picture Galleries

Cephalapods are one of many highlights of any dive, however they’re much more welcome on a blackwater dive. Octopuses and squids each have their very own devoted galleries, and as you’ll be able to see right here, a few of the strangest trying and most photogenic octopods seem from the abyss at evening. Every iconic octopus has its personal devoted web page of data and pictures, the place Mike paperwork every critter, their prey and customary habits, in addition to discussing the important thing variations between female and male of every topic.


A larval stage mantis shrimp floating within the abyss


The following chapter of the e-book is devoted to crustaceans. Crabs and shrimp are essentially the most recognizable critters for many divers, with lobster larvae being notably frequent in addition to mantis and other forms of shrimp. Ampiphods, copepods and isopods from the deep are additionally all included and customary. As earlier than, an in depth gallery of pictures and descriptions permits Mike to point out off his huge portfolio of blackwater pictures, whereas discussing every creature intimately and the way greatest to come across them.


Every chapter of the e-book features a gallery of essentially the most generally encountered species


One other intriguing facet of blackwater diving is encountering larval or juvenile fish of species you would possibly usually encounter in the course of the day. It could actually typically be onerous to establish many of those specimens, however others are clearly smaller variations of their grownup selves and make for superb pictures. Many types of deep sea, reef and pelagic fish could be seen, and a few particular critters embody pompano fish with lengthy elaborate tentacles, flying fish, moray eels, tiny mahi mahi, and even minute sailfish and ribbonfish. Flounders and different flatfish look notably unique of their larval stage and every topic seems to be superb framed towards the blackwater of the evening.


Larval crocodile toothfish (Champsodon sp.)


Jellyfish even have their very own gallery, as do different gelatinous creatures and worms, the like of which many people common divers could have by no means encountered earlier than. After protecting an enormous array of alien-like marine life throughout the information’s first 235 pages, the top of the e-book focuses on the relationships between these creatures, their methods for survival and most significantly, how you can go about photographing them.


Unfamiliar beings from beneath typically seem like vistors from one other planet


As Mike explains, blackwater diving brings collectively scientific data, picture expertise and dive expertise like no different type of diving, and for these new to blackwater diving, it may be an intimidating step. He theorizes that his earlier profession working as a chef ready him properly for the exercise and believes the 5 P’s—correct preparation-prevents-poor-performance—are extremely relevant for underwater photographers too. He lists important digital camera tools and good settings to get you began, in addition to particular lighting strategies equivalent to inward lighting that’s particularly helpful at evening. In accordance with Mike, photographers ought to purpose to begin with a shutter pace of 1/200s or quicker and use aperture and ISO settings to create the very best publicity. A 60mm lens is really useful and a good focus mild can be vital to success.


A jack looking for safety in a purple jellyfish


The ultimate a part of the e-book is devoted to inventive methods of making the very best blackwater pictures through the use of floor reflections and movement blur to reinforce already distinctive pictures. In his remaining ideas, Mike explains why he determined to launch The World of Blackwater as an e-book and his plans for usually updating it sooner or later. His hope is that by making it digital, everybody could have entry to it at any time, and can be capable to reference it on any system. I’ll most positively be saving a replica of this e-book on my laptop computer and telephone for future reference when I’m out within the discipline. I can not wait to construct my very own blackwater rig and discover at residence within the Caribbean quickly!


Particular strategies equivalent to movement blur take blackwater pictures to the subsequent stage


The World of Blackwater is accessible as a 263-page PDF on Gumroad or an 184-page iBook on Apple Books, priced at $25.