Exploring the intertidal zone – a visual diary with the Nikon Z6 II setup.

Time can be used for many purposes, for example, earning more money to purchase the powerful Nikon Z9 or the latest iPhone 14 Pro. Still, for me, time is best used for purchasing ‘exposure’ or ‘experiences’ that my two kids can’t really get from the mainstream education system in Singapore.

And in this short visual diary today, we will focus on a trip to the intertidal zone with M.J from JustKeepThinkingSG (they do a lot of nature-inspired excursions, and if keen, it’s worth checking them out)

ISO1250, ƒ2.5, 1/100S

The fun part is with good luck, one might manage to see hard-to-find marine creatures, and in the shot above, what seemed to be just seaweed turned out to be packed full of sea snail eggs. The way which sea snails maximize the safety of their eggs before they hatch.

The intertidal zone  is the area submerged with seawater during high tide and exposed to the air during low tide. Due to the tides, the intertidal zone is never the same.

Plus one should only visit it during super low tide hours.

Choosing the camera equipment for the intertidal walk

We will be waddling on soft muddy, exposed sea-bed from 1.30 a.m. to 4 a.m., where light is scarce, up to knee deep in seawater. I needed a camera system I knew would have the highest chances of surviving a drop onto the exposed sea-bed and yet have actual A.F performance reliable enough to engage in low light and render decently at high ISO levels.

And thus, from the list of Leica M (nope, manual focusing was out), Leica Q (too expensive to drop), Fujifilm X-Pro3, and Ricoh GR III (not as great high ISO performance plus A.F not as reliable though the GR III is slightly better) I decided to go with the Nikon Z6 II, 35mm ƒ1.8 S and SB500 Speedlight which has a built-in LED.

Z6 II, 35mm ƒ1.8 S, and SB500 Speedlight.

And so we start the intertidal tour!

ISO12800, ƒ2, 1/13S

The first scene that was presented awed me. There were flames produced by flaring by the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) across the ocean in Malaysia. Flaring is burning off excess gas from an oil or gas well or refinery.

And this shot gave me the confidence that bringing the Z6 II was the most correct choice I had from what was available, producing a shot at ISO 12 800 and handheld at 1/13 seconds.

ISO7200, ƒ5, 1/100S

Early in the trek, we chanced upon a relatively rare specimen of the Coastal Horseshoe Crab (Tachypleus gigas). I understand there are four species worldwide, where two can be found in Singapore.

I am unfortunately not well versed in bio-diversity knowledge (I am a pure Mathematics major instead) hence please do not throw a fit at my lack of ability to name some marine creatures.

ISO4000, ƒ5, 1/100S

Some of these creatures do camouflage well, like this orange-striped hermit crab which we would have missed if not for its legs peeking out.

ISO12800, ƒ5, 1/30S

A reminder to ensure that we all have the responsible habit of never removing anything from the beach. As some marine creatures such as the stonefish or cone snails may be venomous, it will be prudent to not go grabbing at everything one comes across.

ISO1400, ƒ5, 1/100S

Real life experiences versus looking at images gave the two girls a new appreciation of marine life and the need to respect it.

Soon we realized that we had to be careful where we stepped; if not, we would end up injuring some of them one example was this sea anemone we found just happily enjoying its time in the water.

ISO1600, ƒ5, 1/100S

Here’s another orange-striped hermit crab. Tiny compared to its new home, it still has some room to grow before looking for another new home.

ISO2500, ƒ5, 1/100S

This looks like a sand sea star (Astropecten sp.), Look closely, and you can see the little spiny legs all across the boundaries of the sea star that allows it to walk pretty fast, much faster than all of us expected.

ISO640, ƒ2.8, 1/100S

We were lucky to chance upon a relatively large Eight-armed Luidia sea star (Luidia maculata) These can grow up to 20 cm across.

ISO9000, ƒ5, 1/100S

Often mistaken to be a piece of rock (lol), here is the Sand Dollar (Clypeasteroida), a living creature which if you clean it up and turn it around you will be able to see its mouth and organs on the other side. These are very very common and we easily found 30 of them. Yes, they can move.

ISO1800, ƒ5, 1/100S

Some type of cone snail. Cone snails can be venomous and it is not advisable at all to touch them with your bare hands.

ISO140, ƒ5, 1/100S

There were many crabs, especially the common flower crab and this picture above is of the Moon crab (Family Matutidae). We also found a few empty crab shells, remnants of the crab moulting process.

It was a bit sad to see a family collecting crabs at the beach either for sale or consumption.

We understand some people wanna be cheapskates in life but doing so is really selfish and sadly, local laws do not explicity prohibit this activity
ISO8000, ƒ5, 1/100S

The pinkish thing there is the Pink Warty Sea Cucumber (Cercodemas anceps) which will expel all of its internal organs when stressed and get very sick after. Not a good idea to touch them for sure whatever they expel can be toxic. You will easily find hundreds of these if the tides are low enough. (yeap, next to it are clams which we usually eat)

ISO1800, ƒ2.8, 1/100S

One of the lucky finds was this huge sea cucumber (Holothuroidea) (yes, the edible kind we kind in expensive restaurants) Lucky no poacher saw this and we quickly covered it back in sand to camouflage it.

With this, the trip to the intertidal zone was about done and we packed up and went back, and I am glad the two girls learnt and experienced nature at a level where they could appreciate it better.

Thank you for reading.


  1. The Nikon Z6 II, 35mm f1.8S and SB800 are my personal sets and running the most current firmware.
  2. All samples shared were photographed by me in raw and edited in LR CC Classic to my preferences. 
  3. I take pride in being a reviewer who does not earn from affiliate links and am able to provide a balanced viewpoint.
  4. The trip was organised by JustKeepThinkingSG, a local education outfit focusing on environmental education. The trip was fully paid for by me and not sponsored.

5 Replies to “Exploring the intertidal zone – a visual diary with the Nikon Z6 II setup.”

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