After the cooking, the boat slowly approaches the bright pool of light around the buoy supporting the line.
We jump in, and a crew-member hands me my camera.
The water is a pleasant 30°C, but I was advised to wear a hood to protect me from stinging hydroids floating around. I’m almost too warm, so I let a little water into my suit to cool myself down.
Exchanging quick OKs and thumbs-downs, we descend close to the line.
This is my first attempt at blackwater photography, so I don’t know what to expect. If a normal night-dive invokes your inner boogeyman, blackwater diving is probably not your thing. But for me, the dark, warm water has a strangely soothing effect, and I immediately go into the zone.
I let my eyes adapt to the conditions and look around to assess the results of the cooking. I see nothing.
Well, I see snow. Lots of snow. The powerful lights on the line create the same effect as headlights in a snowstorm, and I’m worried that I'll get nothing but backscatter in my images.
Then I remember my first muck-dive, many years ago in Lembeh Strait. I had the same “what am I doing here?” feeling, and tell myself to be patient.
I look around to orient myself. I swim further away from the strong glare of the lights on the line, and discover that it is better not to be too close to the light cones from the rig.
After a few minutes, I spot a small jellyfish the size of a coin. All right, game on!
I approach with care and try to take a few pictures. The first images are completely dark, but after some exposure adjustments and experiments, I begin to get a few acceptable shots and feel more confident. I can do this!
I look around for more subjects, but after another five minutes still get nothing but snow.