Ask any guy on the street, if you wanted to see a colorful reef, where would you go? Chances are, he’d point you at a tropical island with nice warm water, because nothing interesting lives in cold water but a few boring fish. Right?
Not so fast.
While I’d agree that most cold water fish aren’t as colorful as their warm water counterparts, and swimming in the Pacific NW ocean without a wetsuit or drysuit cause the locals to shake their heads at the nut freezing off his important bits, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing living on the reefs. Jacques Cousteau went so far as to say it was second favorite place to dive, only surpassed by the Red Sea. There must be something down there to see.
Photography has been a hobby since I was a wee lad, so when I took up diving in the late ’80’s it wasn’t long before I took my hobby underwater. This allowed me to both indulge a couple hobbies at the same time and share some of the strange world I saw underwater with friends and family. Over time I was able to amass underwater photos from both warm water and cold water destinations.
Something that came as a surprise to the landlubbers was the variety and color of the life, especially on the cold water side. Eventually I started mixing shots from warm water and cold water dive sites, and challenged them to tell me which was which. Today I make that same challenge to you.
It’s been a long time since I took these shots and don’t remember exactly where each photo was, but in general, the cold water photos are from the San Juan Islands or Neah Bay in Washington, and British Columbia, Canada. The warm water shots are from Honduras and Palau, Micronesia.
For those who care, a few technical notes. I used a Nikonos V underwater camera (no housing required) and SB103 strobe, macro extension tubes, and a wire framer. The film was Kodachrome 64 (that’s a slide film for you young folks). Because slides are a little difficult to share, a few years back I selected a collection of the better ones and printed them off. The pictures in this post were scanned from a few those prints and tweaked slightly with a photo editing tool to reclaim some of what got lost in translation.
I’m not actively pursuing underwater photography these days. The strobe died for the film setup, and I haven’t invested in a digital setup. Maybe someday I’ll get back into it.
But for now the question is, do you think these photos were taken in warm water or cold water? Click the Warm or Cold option for each picture, and Finish Game when you’re done to see how well you did. After you see the results you can refresh the page to revisit any of the pictures.
I hope you enjoyed the challenge. There’s a lot more pictures where these came from. Let me know if you’d like to try this again some time in the comments.
Oh, BTW, that Basket Star leading off this post? While I took that shot up in Canada, I’ve seen them in warm water too.