Although Cozumel, Mexico is the location I've traveled to the most for my dive trips, it also seems to be the location for which I have the fewest photos. Why is that? Well, primarily because most of these and earlier photos from Cozumel were taken with rental cameras that I had little experience with. As the result, the number of photos worthy of including here are much fewer in number.
Be it a Sea & Sea Motormarine I or MX-10, rental cameras provided my first introduction to underwater photography. The first photo of the Rock Beauty and Banded Butterflyfish was a very lucky (*see footnote) shot taken on my first trip to Cozumel...after one day of diving, I had to have a camera! So, I rented the Motomarine I and shot 4 rolls of film over the next two days of diving. From a large majority of poorly focused shots, this photograph was one of that was fortunately usable, albeit still not sharp. Subsequent trips to Cozumel found me renting the Sea & Sea MX-10, a fixed-focus camera that - for my limited skills - afforded me a somewhat higher percentage of decent photos. The tradeoff was that the fixed-focus lens is not as sharp as that provided in the manually focused Motormarine cameras.
My last trip to Cozumel found me using my relatively new purchase of a Nikonos V with 15mm lens and SB-102 flash. This was a major step forward for me in the quality of camera I was using. The 15mm lens, although very forgiving with a huge depth of field, was a challenge to use in the drift currents I dove in. Closing in to fill the frame with the subject was quite tricky with that lens...particularly if I didn't want that Spotted Moray to make a morsel of my fingers!
Taking another step forward to improve the quality of my photos, I've added a second strobe (Sea & Sea YS-50 TTL) and arm system to my Nikonos setup. The Sea & Sea strobe is very compact and uniquely provides a slaved TTL operation that is triggered by my main flash, the SB-102. Generally, I don't shoot in TTL mode and instead just go with full-power manual flash, typically shooting at 3 feet and f8-f11. Using an Ikelite Tray and Pivot for the Nikonos V, along with Ultralight Control Systems strobe arms, clamps, and adapters, I feel I've assembled a system that provides maximum flexibility at the lowest cost. Now, the big trick seems to be figuring out how to get in close under coral heads without the off-camera strobes being obstructed!
Here are a few pics from my most recent trip in 1999...with more pics from 1998 to yet be added:
* Indeed...that photo of the rock beauty was a lucky one, for merely catching one additional banded butterflyfish (top center) in the scene that added to the composition. What about the two additional fish to the right? The power of digital image editing! : )