Swimming with turtles: Ticked! off the Bucket List @alitteatlarge

Swimming with turtles: Ticked! off the Bucket List @alitteatlarge
Vamp Collective x turtles

Vamp’s Creative Bucket list competition winners, Narelle and Tiah from @alittleatlarge, recently ticked off swimming with turtles from their Creative Bucket list. Just managing to get to Lady Elliot island before the end of turtle season, Narelle shares her tips, tricks and thought processes in planning and realising the photoshoot trip with her daughter Tiah.

Outfit on point

Lady Elliot Island: Bird’s Eye View

Getting ready to Snorkel

Underwater Selfie

With only three days notice to depart for my Vamp Creative Bucket list trip (due to availability on Lady Elliot island and it coming towards the end of the turtle season) – it was a mad dash to gather some props to take with us, while adhering to the strict weight restrictions for the tiny plane.

I focused on a basic colour coordinated wardrobe for Tiah (pale pink, with a few pops of fluero which I knew would look great in the water) and worked this into swimwear, flippers, mask and her rash top. I also gathered some small props including a translucent drink bottle, travel journal and pencil case in our favourite mermaid theme (Typo is the best!).

Along with my Nikkon 7200 and Mac laptop, I packed a Go Pro 4 with a dome, plus invested in a Go Pro 5 Hero Black (best investment), and I am almost ashamed to admit – a selfie stick – mainly because I knew would give me the reach to get the shots with the turtles. I have never attempted underwater videography, so was completely (literally) out of my depth, but the stability mode you can select in the Go Pro 5 was a blessing to ensure smooth movement in the video footage.

Travel Photoshoot Tip No.1

Complete a mood board pre-trip. I like to plan my palette, the key pieces that will feature in terms of wardrobe and ensure that consistency in the end visuals will mean a cohesive feed.

We departed on a gorgeous scenic flight from the Gold Coast to Lady Elliot Island, and I was able to grab some shots on the way with the Go Pro of Tiah hanging out in the plane, our amazing coastline and the reef from the air as we came if for our rather bumpy (but fun) grass strip landing on the island.

We were in the water within 30 minutes of arriving as the lagoon had limited time for swimming each day due to the tide and we were on a mission to find some turtles.

I admit that I did not really realise until we had to gear up – how difficult this was going to be with a small child who had never snorkelled before, an open lagoon with strong tides, a rather large expectation from my followers that I would find turtles and a tiny camera on a stick to capture our experience swimming with them. I certainly did have a few anxious moments…

Travel Photoshoot Tip No.2

Develop your content as a story from the start. Even though I might not post it as one, it gives me a natural flow of events to tell as story in my captioning.

It was for this reason I decided to get straight in, and thankfully within about 10 minutes, we had found our first turtle. It was the most amazing feeling to swim alongside a large green turtle and to see Tiah’s eyes light up bigger than fishbowls in her goggles and feel her little body wiggling with excitement in my arms. It took her no time to take a giant breath and dive right down next to it – I was astounded, amazing and so very proud. It was like she had waited for this moment all her life. It is my favourite photo of the trip – her free diving down with the turtle; it sums up this whole magical journey and the whole experience of how it felt.

Travel Photoshoot Tip No.3

Take HEAPS of content. You can never have too much content and you never know when something you did not expect works out better than something you did.

Knowing I had some good footage in the bag, I relaxed and we enjoyed ourselves over the next few days. We swam with more turtles, went out into the deeper water and saw Manta Rays. We are saving swimming with those guys until next time when Tiah is a bit bigger. We also learnt so much about the island’s ecology. It was nesting season for birds too – so a bonus.

The ultimate experience one evening on a full moon was of seeing tiny hatchling turtles erupting from their nest and making their way to the sea. We sat huddled together, quietly and without cameras or lights and just lived the tiny fleeting moment where these guys passed right by our feet and made their way out into the deep, dark sea on a journey where only one in every thousand survives. It was something that will stay with me forever.

Travel Photoshoot Tip No.4

Carry a personal external hard drive. It is easy to fill and kill a computer with too many raw photos and video, so save to an external hard drive as you go so you have time to sort and bring back in only what you need/want to use.

Then disaster struck. I dropped my Nikon 7200 in the ocean as Tiah tried to scramble on my back after seeing a “snake” (eel)… I had 2 full memory cards in the camera and while I took them out immediately, they were waterlogged and I knew there was little chance of recovery.

I did not let panic set in, I told myself I could do this, and the footage we had on the Go Pro would still depict our experience well. It was a little heartbreaking not to have the crisp shots I was anticipating, and some of the sunrises and sunsets had been magnificent too, but it is one of the joys/challenges of travelling and I just had to roll with it as it had happened.

Travel Photoshoot Tip No.5

Have a back up camera always… in my case I lost my Nikon 7200 on day 2 into the ocean, and had to rely on my GoPro5 to get me through – which thankfully it did!

I set up a few time lapses with the Go Pro of the sunrise, and us playing down by the water and messed about with them in post production to get them as crisp as I could when I returned home. No one seemed to notice much (except those that are photographers), but they understood when I shared my story with them and most, if not all, had a story similar to share too. When travelling, I have found, it’s always a good idea to bring a backup camera.

<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”7″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:36.25% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BRtrJGujLuC/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>Within 30 minutes of landing on @ladyelliotislandecoresort – the southern most island on the Great Barrier Reef, we were suited up and in the water. The lagoon that it renowned for spotting turtles sits adjacent to the resort and is tidal, so it&#39;s open for limited times each day. The tide was heading out, so we did not want to waste a second in our @vampbrands bucket list quest to swim with turtles. The snorkelling style first adopted was not quite what I had in mind….but someone was pretty happy about the arrangement…..???????????????? . . . . . . . . . . #bestintravel #traveltime #borntoroam #globewanderer #neverstopexploring #amazingplaces #letsgosomewhere #exploreeverything #roamtheplanet #bucketlist #globetrotters #mytinyatlas #bestvacations #travelgram #welltraveled #instapassport #ilovetotravel #familyholiday #familyvacay #memoriesforlife #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland #southernbarrierreef #ladyelliotisland #turtles #dreamvacay #snorkeling #explorerkids #mom_hub #travelblogger</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A post shared by Narelle Bouveng (@alittleatlarge) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2017-03-16T21:12:45+00:00″>Mar 16, 2017 at 2:12pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src=”//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js”></script><blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”7″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BRzB65iDFln/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>It&#39;s breeding season at @ladyelliotislandecoresort – so we are trying something new – birdwatching. Over 100,000 birds nest on Lady Elliot each season and it has the highest diversity of seabirds of all the Great Barrier Reef Islands. It is noisy (earplugs are left by the bed) and there is quite a bit of poo (lucky right?) but pretty incredible to witness up close. We are going to take a closer look with our priorities being eggs and baby birds according to Jnr Attenborough here ???? . . . . . . . . . . #birdwatching #wildernessculture #naturelovers #candidchildhood #mom_hub #littlefierceones #takeyourkidseverywhere #holidaysforkids #fivestarkids #explorerkids #optoutside #nothingisordinary #momtogs #documentyourdays #kidsofig #naturekids #southerngreatbarrierreef #ladyelliotisland #greatbarrierreef #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #australiagram #mybucketlist #igersaustralia #islandlife #adventuregirls #travelblogger</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A post shared by Narelle Bouveng (@alittleatlarge) on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2017-03-18T23:08:00+00:00″>Mar 18, 2017 at 4:08pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src=”//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js”></script>

“I want to live at Lady Elliot Island because everything I love is there. I felt like a real mermaid when I was swimming in the sea with the turtles.”

I am not that much of a planned person in terms of my content – I prefer to find myself in a moment and capture it as candidly as I can. I like to post how and what I feel at the time. My aim is to depict what is real and authentic over cheesy grins and set up photos – especially with my kids. Kids are already the masters of immersion so let it be I say and capture how beautiful it is to witness a being truly at one with their world, as Tiah was on Lady Elliot Island.

Thank-you VAMP, this really was a dream come true for us.

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