Boo and Nudi Rock

For the last four days we have been diving in the Fiabacet Islands near the Misool Eco Resort.  There are several really excellent dive sites here including the sites our captain, Edi Frommenwiler, calls Boo and Nudi Rock.  I don’t know how Boo got its name but Nudi Rock looks very much like a nudibranch snail when viewed in silhouette against the morning sunrise.

Boo is a small rock island famous for two very large holes that penetrate the rock.  In the morning, sunlight pours through these giant tunnels spilling out over the reef below like sunshine through a window.  We set our IMAX® camera on a heavy tripod, careful not to damage any living coral.  Then we filmed Michele and Pindito dive guide, Amil, swimming through the windows silhouetted by morning light.  I captured the shot from a half dozen angles but I’m sure it is the last of these that Greg will use in the film.  It was truly stunning.

Later that day we filmed soft corals blossoming in the strong currents that sweep past Boo.  Angelfish and butterflyfish pass through the soft corals and sea fans.  The camera only exposes three minutes of film with each load, but my crew and I often spend two hours underwater trying to compose that perfect shot.  We were able to work a bit faster than that at Boo since there were so many good options.  We shot purple and pink soft corals separated by bright red sea fans.  Large schools of snapper and fusiliers paraded through our frames.

After two days of diving at Boo, we moved to Nudi Rock.  This is one of my favorite sites in Raja.  Strong currents nourish the reef here and the walls of the tiny islet are alive with gorgonian corals and soft corals.  This morning I planned to shoot a soft coral tree that I saw here last year.  It was the most beautiful soft coral patch I have ever seen.  But as we descended along the tiny island’s underwater escarpment, we discovered a hawksbill turtle.  Since turtles are one of the strongest themes in Greg’s shooting script, we are loath to ignore them no matter how strongly the soft corals beckon.  We ended up following the turtle for two hours capturing wonderful scenes of the reptile feeding on soft corals and sponges.  These are some of the best turtle feeding shots I have ever captured in any motion picture format. 

As the noisy IMAX camera ran, I once again found myself hoping I was not making any technical mistakes.  The camera’s viewfinder is a parallax system and the image the viewfinder “sees” is slightly different than the image the IMAX camera captures.  It would be easy for a small branch of coral or sea fan to be in the way, between the lens and the turtle, while I watch an unobstructed view in the viewfinder.  This has happened before.  I hope it didn’t happen today – the shots were just too good.  On the ride back to Pindito from Nudi Rock, I mentioned to Peter Kragh that he should take every opportunity to check to make sure the lens is not obstructed by something I can’t see through the viewfinder.  With his help I should be more confident of future shots.

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