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Day 6 - Digital Shootout 2011 Bonaire

Coverage of the Digital Shootout

Nauticam USA is proud to be a premier sponsor of the Digital Shootout 2011 in Bonaire. This is the sixth installment of our daily coverage of the shootout. 

Wow. Incredible. Amazing. No wait.. wrong set of adjectives. Let me try this... Groovy. Trippy. Cool. [google more funny 60's adjectives]

I finally got my chance to do a night dive with the fluorescence gear from my new friends at NightSea. Try to imagine diving the reef lit up by a black light, with coral heads glowing in wild green, yellow, orange and red neon colors. Did I mention amazing? Being a staff person, I didn't want to keep any guests who wanted to try it from doing so, so I go geared up to get in the water after they were done. My buddy and roommate Sterling had done this the night before and it worked well. Sterling is obviously as hooked on this as I am and was back for more tonight. Three and a half hours and two tanks later I surfaced from this crazy dive with a huge grin on my face. I also happened to surface in the middle of a wild little thunderstorm which made it all the more surrealistic. Oh, and it was also 2 o'clock in the morning, and I had to wake up at 6:30 the next day. No problem!

The physics geek in me really likes to hear Charlie from NightSea talk about the technology they employ to make this fluorescence experience work. He can certainly explain it better than me, but in a nutshell, they use a bright light source in a narrow frequency band (the color blue) to excite the molecules in a particular protein that only some of the creatures have in their tissue. Being excited in physics is different from being excited in other contexts - what it means is that those molecules give off light, and so we see the glow in those particular colors. The really clever part comes next - we don't want to see all of that blue light because it is brighter than the florescent glow, so NightSea uses a complimentary filter (yellow in this case) to remove the blue light, leaving only the glow.

So to make this work, we modify the lights we use (strobes, video lights, spotting lights) to produce the correct blue light, and then we put a yellow filter over our camera lens and our eyes. I was shooting my 7D with a Canon EF-S 60mm macro lens behind the Nauticam Macro Port. This port has a 67mm thread on the front, so attaching NightSea's filter was simple. I've included a couple of shots here, and will have more shots plus some video posted soon here and on my own website (

The Digitl Shootout 2011 website is now up - check it out at