Diving in Alor. Indonesia, July 2012.

Take Pictures Underwater or Exhaust Yourself Swimming

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Taking pictures underwater, I love it. But swimming, much less. I realized this while diving in Alor, Indonesia.

Strenuous Dives

More than a month has passed, already, since my stay in Alorin July 2012. A far away trip, to the borders of Indonesia, dedicated to what I love above all: diving and taking pictures underwater.

Since my return, I continue, day after day, to sort out my underwater pictures brought back from this lost archipelago - more than a thousand pictures!

On the screen of my computer, I rediscover the beauty of the reefs, full of huge sponges, coral tables, colored gorgonians... And I remember my dives there. Dives that were sometimes "sporty", as they say.

That's right, we had to swim hard... ????

Barrel sponge in Alor. Indonesia, July 2012.
Barrel sponge in Alor. (Indonesia, July 2012)

Strategy of the least effort

I knew, before I left, that there were strong currents in Alor. Having already tried those of Nusa Penida / Lembongan, of Komodo or of Raja Ampat, I'm starting to have some experience with this kind of diving.

But I know my physical limits and I'm also a little cluttered underwater by my 7D's bulky housing. Underwater photography involves a strategy of the least effort. Drift dives, where you just have to let yourself be carried by the current, without having to fight, suit me well. The dives where you hook yourself on the reef in the current, to enjoy the show without getting exhausted, suit me very well too. On the other hand, to swim against the current, or to follow a group that advances too fast for my taste, with big and energetic kicks, is much less my thing.

I readily admit it: I am aquatic, but not athletic. I am a contemplative (understand: slow) diver. I am sparing with my movements, I try to make the air last as long as possible...

Games of light on a delicate gorgon, "overflown" by a cloud of anthias. Alor, Indonesia, July 2012.
Play of light on a delicate gorgonian, "flown" by a cloud of anthias (Alor, Indonesia, July 2012)

Diving in Alor. Indonesia, July 2012.

Safety first

As a result, Alor's rather "sporty" dives do not always fit with my usual strategy of least effort, I must admit...


I often find myself lagging behind, because of my mania for taking pictures on the way (instead of going all the way like my little friends). Then, I'm totally unable, physically, to catch up with the others... (What do you mean, photographers are a pain in the ass? 😈 )

As a result, if I have to come back against the current at the end of the dive, I don't even try anymore, knowing that I risk getting out of breath. I don't need to. I might as well meet up at the surface instead. Safety first, huh.

In these cases, I prefer to let my little non-photographer buddies continue to kick furiously (after all, if they like it) and I go up to a shallow depth, a little above them, just to finish my dive at ease, to take some more pictures closer to the surface, where there is more light, and to degas quietly without risking to run out of air. A sign to Gilles or Jenny of Alor Divers – always vigilant – is all it takes.

Palmer or photograph? I chose!!!

Diving in Alor. Indonesia, July 2012.

Diving in Alor. Indonesia, July 2012.

Yellow and red crinoids. Alor, Indonesia, July 2012.

The Photos

Having said that, I don't regret at all these few "sport" dives in Alor. Nor to have often hung around behind the group for the pictures. It was worth it! The bottom of Alor is beautiful, full of fish, colorful...

A confirmation with the following pictures below. Click on the thumbnails to see them in large format.


  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

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  1. I look at these magnificent photos on my computer screen, it is an enchantment, a little "spoiled" however by a small technical problem; they take a certain time before appearing in full screen, and thus it breaks a little the charm of the underwater stroll.

    1. @Ysbilia: like underwater, "qui va piano va sano"... 😆
      The problem is either the server that hosts my blog, which is regularly slow, or your connection... The main thing is that the photos eventually appear!!!

  2. All the same! Not a fan of the current, and it doesn't like me either, it doesn't do anything to adapt to my pink fins in 36 girl! And it's not fun to take your time to observe, search, discover, photograph the little one.
    For the wide angle, I admire your photos! Superb!

    1. @Manta: I'm not kicking in the current, but I realize that it also depends a lot on the way the diving is organized ...

      As a comparison, in Raja Ampat, I sometimes had crazy currents, even more furious than in Alor, but there, everything was fine: I had a guide for myself almost every time, and we were always in a very small group, moving forward at the same quiet rhythm. And for the sites with a lot of juice, we tied up to the hook, to be able to film and photograph without getting tired or carried away.

  3. And again there you only have 1 flash, but when you go to buy the 2nd, try to see about a group buy with an underwater scooter!!! 😆 😆
    On the other hand, with all these pictures of sponges, barrels and casks, your readers will eventually suspect something. You won't be able to hide your atavistic addiction to alcoholic beverages and your multiple rehabs hidden under the guise of tourist trips for much longer ➡
    Again BRAVO for this beautiful series of photos of atmosphere and in the current...

  4. eh, I think I'll start drinking to do the same rehabs 😆
    Beautiful photos, very beautiful atmospheres, and for dives without effort I am 100% ok ❗ ❗

    1. @Laurence: hey, hey... I see that many of us like the same water and bubbles cures, and preferably without forced palming...

  5. Hello Corinne
    I agree with you about these groups where on one side we have the marathon runners, wedged behind their compasses and all the points of passage to be seen without exceptions, the stakhanovists of the palmage who always arrive first, and on the other side the photographers who are delighted by a color, a light of a bug whatever its size, who frolic on the left and on the right, who stay 1/4 of an hour on a shrimp and that all the group curses.
    Conclusion we must dive between us! and at our own pace! a point it is all! 😉

  6. Impressive your photos, it must be said that with a 7D...
    Bravo in any case, it leaves dreamer, especially in the fall or holiday memories are far.

    1. @Denis: thanks!!! Me too, it makes me feel good, to take them out of the hard drive, these pictures... Like a bubble of escape in this period of back to school... 😉
      As for the 7D, yes, I am very very happy with it, I must say. I'm getting used to playing with it at wide angle and getting a better handle on it - even when it's running!!!

  7. Hi Corinne,
    I just discovered your blog and... I am amazed at the quality of your photos. I've tried to take pictures underwater before but it was nowhere near this rendering! At the same time, you seem to have the necessary equipment 😉 Congratulations 😀

    1. @Benjamin: thanks for the compliments! It's not just about the camera, it's also about learning and experience... All the photos before 2010 on this blog were made with a modest compact. You can already get excellent results, especially in macro. But it is sure that for ambient photos, there is no photo as the other would say: when you switch to an SLR, with an adapted lens, the quality is of another level, necessarily.

  8. Between photographing or swimming against the current, my choice is the same as yours! On your good advice and by fear of the effects of the full moon for our dives in Komodo, we invested in a nice hook before the Mermaid 1 cruise. I'm very disappointed it was only used twice for fun on our 27 dives ???!!!! The DMs chose the right moment to dive and reassure the group....less current on sites like Takat Toko and Crystal Rock ?? The counterpart is the lack of action, few hunting scenes, but sharks and giant trevally are present. Crazy drift dive at Tatawa Besar...impossible to take pictures !!! My best memory in the current is in the company of MANTAS at Takat Makassar on 2 occasions, sensational, photos a little blurred so much the tank was vibrating, I had only one free hand to hold it!

    1. @Lisemet: my hook came in handy later, during my stays in Raja Ampat. It's very useful when everything vibrates in the "underwater wind", from the regulator to the camera housing...

      In Komodo, I used Crystal Rock, no way to do otherwise. On the other hand, I didn't need to take it out in Karang Makassar (magnificent, non-stop passage of manta rays). Well, you should know that you had good guides, who took care of safety by not sending the group to get into the strong currents... You will find the opportunity to use the hook again.

      For my part, I no longer hesitate to use it, even in moderate current, when I want to be "comfortable" to film or photograph.

  9. I have to say that your sentence "(What do you mean, photographers are balls? 😈 )" made me laugh a lot, I make videos and I have to say that the feeling of my "comrades" of palanque is the following one: "But what the hell is he doing, there is nothing on this coral branch". I love your site which inspires me a lot for the continuation of mine.