There was an era when underwater photography was rare, unusual and novel. I purchased a Calypso-phot camera in 1963 and on a memorable safari north with friends, asked Ron Taylor to take a single picture of me with a crayfish. This was North West Island in July 1963. When the film was processed I saw for the first time what I looked like as a diver, underwater. No big deal today but back then it was a real thrill.
Category: Sydney Sea Hunters
The Late John LeBrun pictured
John LeBrun (a professional camera equipment salesman and diver) taught us a couple of points about photography he had learned from his service in the air force.
“When you focus on an object, the area that is actually in focus (also called depth of field) is 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the point that you’ve focused on”.
You can use this knowledge to some advantage at times.
Generally we were all self-taught photographers. The most difficult part in the learning days was getting a good exposure, especially underwater. Most divers tended to over-expose pictures.
Today the camera’s are automatic in this respect but sometimes adjustments make a nice difference. Sunsets are better if the exposure is make darker, for example.
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Snapper words are coming…….
Picture courtesy RJ Taylor collection
The Tweed Heads to Brisbane area was a super-hot spear fishing zone, Australia 1961. While we were seeing Red Morwong and Blue Groper around Sydney, the real underwater champions senior to us in age and experience were seeing giant Black Cod and Queensland Groper in shallow water up north. Pictures published in Australian Skindivers Magazine whetted our desire for a trip north. With friend Vic Ley our dream came true in July 1963 when we quit our jobs and drove north with a boat, outboard and camping gear. We’d swap speared fish and lobsters for food and fuel. The adventure of a lifetime awaited us.
Me with a typical coral trout. Aboard Riversong, a second trip in 1964. Captain Wally Muller and South Australian Brian Rodger in background. We speared thousands of kilo’s of fish during a ten-day voyage in the Capricorn and Bunker Group.
Vic Ley and myself on our first voyage with Wally Muller, August 1963. We speared fish in exchange for a boat ride out to North West Island – where I developed ‘coral poisoning’ in my leg and came close to dying, sulpher tablets pulled me through, probably not with some harm to kidneys.
Ron Taylor and Vic Ley August 1963, Riversong - Wally Muller‘s fishing vessel became legendary in the sixties. We were later to venture to Saumarez Reef in The Coral Sea aboard this small boat in October 1964.
Photo taken with Calypso-phot 35mm underwater camera
OUR FIRST IDEAS AND THOUGHTS ON
After reading Ben Cropp’s advice and know how on underwater photography (\\Handbook for Skindivers\\) I have given the idea a little thought.
As this Sea Diary’s aim is to record any ideas which come into my head I thought I would like to have a crack at this underwater movies. I would select movie work in preference to still shots are it’s (\\sic\\) (as it’s) field has a greater range.
Ben Cropp suggests the 16mm Bolex and a home-made perspect (\\sic\\) housing. Then there is the cost of a projector. I must make an allowance now. Say camera 50 pounds as a maximum, housing 30-35 pounds; a projector 30 pounds second-hand. This puts the (total) cost at over 100 pounds which is fairly reasonable.
On H.P. (hire purchase) the camera shouldn’t be a very difficult problem.
It looks like we will be very busy from now on with maintainence on Evinrude (outboard motor), Tempest 803 (aluminum dive boat), trailer, all our (spear) fishing gear and USFA competitions & movie work.
Still this is a new and exciting field for us and I am looking forward to tackling new problems.
ROSE BAY TO NORTH HEAD AND LONG REEF - SHARK ALLEY 10.2.1963
We all left Rose Bay (boat) ramp early this morn. about 6:30 AM. The three boats (Ronny Ible, Snow and I) first hopped into the water just under \\The Gap\\. There were a lot of nice mowies and \\niggers\\ where I was, the \\niggers\\ where (\\sic\\) very tame but I missed getting one.
I soon lost the one and only flopper on the (home made) spear and I spent the rest of the day using a “killer spear”. (A slight fantasy – exaggeration based upon the barb-less shark hunting spear technique used by Taylor & Cropp).
We picked up a couple of mowies here & then shot over to North Head. Up past (\\sic\\) Blue Bay we got a few more mowies here. The ones I got were a good size and some of them were very tame. All the day I only lost about 3 fish because of no floppers (on the spear) mostly I was \\stringing them up\\.
The sewerage water (at North Head) became to (\\sic\\) bad at Blue Bay so we went straight up to the reef off LR beach. I got one bug (lobster) out of the same hole as last week. Had a bit of fun getting a small Blue (groper) about 10 – 12 pounds out of a cave because of the straight (barb-less) sharft (\\sic\\).
I borrowed Harry’s (Dowsell) pranger & plowed it into the Blue’s head then got him out. – nice LJ (leatherjacket) over 4 pounds and under 5 pounds.
At about 9:30AM the overcast conditions which we were experiencing brightened up a little & the sun came out. Then we decided to go around to Brownwater Beach & get some tucker.
On the way around the point we noticed how clear the water looked there were bright blue patches everywhere.
On the beach we greeted the arrival of NS (North Shore) members **Tony Smith, Bob Kemp, Ken Sapsford and Tony Leslie** in TL 6 (boat registration number) and the 60 horse power Scott (outboard). They had just come from \\Shark Alley\\ and reported that vis (visibility) was very good and they had encountered about 6 sharks in the morning.
We conned them into giving us the landmarks for the \\alley\\ which is approx. north of the island out the front & in-line with Collaroy Surf Club and a block of flats with a blue roof.
They also had with them a handspear with a device on the tip which held a 12 gauge shotgun cartridge. The idea was to wack (\\sic\\) the shark on the head or spine with this contraption and a pin would set-off the cartridge thus blowing a neat hole in Mr. Sharks’ head.
The only problem they had encountered was that they couldn’t get close enough to any sharks to experiment on them.
After a quick snack we tore off out to where we thought \\Shark Alley\\ was. The water was about 30′ (foot) deep where the boats we(\\sic\\) anchored vis was about 50 – 60 feet at least. There was a very strong current running NW to SE, this made any fishing difficult as also there was a fair north-easterly wind whipping up a chop.
Got a couple more good sized mowies here. Later Ron Ible said a Bronze whaler (shark) came up and had a look at him while he was getting a Blue (groper) out of a cave. We left early as we got sick of waiting.
Maximum temp today was 95 degrees F. The water was very warm on top and nice down deep.