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Offline Last Active Dec 21 2018 02:27 AM

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Humpback whales in Tonga - August 2018

11 November 2018 - 08:38 AM

I was in Tonga last August  with Naia liveabord   and  I'd like to share my experience . 


Naia is a well known  liveaboard   cruising Tonga  during  July , August and September and  Fiji during the  other months .

All on board  is  great  : cabin , food , service , professional cruise director , wonderful fijian  staff  !


The  trip  was  10  days - 9 nights  -  8 full day in water with  humpback whales .  A lot of  time  with only one  target : .... whales !! 

Seeing whales above water   and  underwater as well  ( snorkeling only allowed )

I must confess  at the beginning  I was afraid to get bored  , but  day by day  I  understood  that all that  time is  necessary to  " get in touch " with the whales .  This  means  not only take a snapshot  but  let the  whales  accept me  in water  !




As per  tecnical  details  ,  I ask many friends had  done  same experience as  well as  internet research  and  I finally  understood that is  useful :

-use fisheye  on  Dslr  ( or  mirrorless )  :  I used Canon 8-15  on Canon 80D

-use mid  dome  or  minidome :  I  used  ZEN 170  dome  :  a big dome  is not really necessary because  not possible  many half-half  and  no worry about soften corner , and  the  cons  is  you have sto swimm a  lot !

-use manual exposure with center  weight metering and  -2/3  compensation  -  F8 -  1/125 to 1/200  ( I used usually 1/160 ) - auto ISO  

-use autofocus  ( with all points  active )  , water  was very clear  so no really problem with autofocus 


I balanced  (  neutral buoyancy  and  perfect  trim )  my housing  with  some  close  cell foam  all  around it   and   it was  very useful  during  the  long hours  in water  .



Last  important points :

-try to have  the sun behind my back ,  because  the  only light is  the natural light  ( no  flash  allowed ) .

-go close !! ... or  better , let the  whales  came close to me  ...  and  the  first days  I made the  mistake  to use  fishyey at 15 mm  .. at the end I used  only 10 mm  ( on crop sensor )  and  try to fill the frame   to have  to less  water as possible  from whales  and  my lens .

-be prepared  to swimm  a  lot  and a lot ,  so I trained  myself intensive  before this  trip .




here some  shots  , hope you like :









































some   great  moment  of  interaction  ...... :

















Gorontalo ( Indonesia ) April 2018 - trip report

23 June 2018 - 07:42 AM

I was in Gorontalo ( Sulawesi - Indonesia ) for a 8 days dive trip last April 2018 with Miguel's Diving Gorontalo ( Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia with Miguel's Diving )  

Unfortunately I lost 4 days diving because a tracheit , so with only 4 days diving I had just an idea of what the place has to offer .

Logist is very easy : Garuda Indonesiua connect every day Jakarta to Gorontalo ( 4 hours flight with a tecnical stop in Makassar ) , resort arrange pick up in airport for a 50 min drive to the town.
Accomodation is in Gorontalo City ( Grand Q hotel : GRAND Q HOTEL GORONTALO • GRAND Q HOTEL GORONTALO ) so do not expect any idilliac resort on unspoiled beach , anyway the hotel is big and quite confortable ( air con , hot shower , great breakfast buffet ) .
Dinner at hotel is good and it is also possible to go outside in many local suggested restaurant , anyway be aware a little bahasa indonesia is needed !

Every morning Rantje Allen ( Miguel Diving owner ) pick up me 07:30 AM for a short drive to the dock . Back more or less 04:00 PM . 
Dive boat is confortable , with toilet on board . Dive sites from 20 to 40 min away .  
3 dives per day , lunch on board ( lunch box from a local restaurant … very good ) .

Underwater scenario was very interesting and really unspoiled : incredible big sponges ( and the famous Salvador Dalì sponges as well ) , big sea fans , dramatic sea scape with many holes , cavern and deep splits.
Fantastic visibility , warm water ( 28-29°C ) , mild to none current made the dives very relaxing . Good fish life , but nothing big .
Good macro life as well even nothing to compare to the real macro destinations like Tulamben , Lembeh , Anilao , Ambon .
Unfortunately whale shark are no more regulary seen here because the local shrimps factory closed and so no more organic waste is flushed in the sea to attract the whale sharks .
What I dislike a bit was the too much plastic garbage on the surface …. 

As underwater photographer I take advantage of the skilled dive master for macro shot and the professional dive models for wide angle shots .
All in all a very interesting place , nice place to vist if you are in Sulawesi area ( Manado/ Lembeh ) and have some spare days . 

Here some photos from this trip  .

( Canon 80D  in S&S housung  -  Canon 8-15 FE  with ZEN DP170   -  2 x Inon Z330 )

( more photos and better quality on my flick gallery : https://www.flickr.c...157669429671268 )




















Macro Dive in Tulamben-Bali : where Dive Guide can make the difference .

17 April 2018 - 12:08 PM

I spent 9 day diving  in Tulamben ( Bali ) last August  and  I hired   Ajiex Dharma  as my private dive guide .

Ajiex  is a skilled  and  expert freelancer dive guide , worked many years in Villa Markisa , is very knowledge in nudibranches  and  a talented  underwater photographer  as well .


The  feeling was  perfect  :  above and  below  water . 

We usually make 2 dives in the morning  , lunch  together  ( fantastic  have a lunch on the beach  with super fresh grilled fish )  , and  another  dive in afternoon .

All shore dive , pick up from my resort … all perfectly organized .


We  split  our underwater  photography   in two session  :   macro  with snoot    and    reverse ring macro ( extreme supermacro )



Macro with snoot  .


We used  mostly  a  Fabio Iardino snoot (  fiber optic + sealed optical lens  custom snoot  )  on  a slave  Inon  Z240  triggered   to   have  the  maximum  flexibility  in  targeting the light  to  create some side light and  back light  ( and  not  the  standard  spot  light  )  .  

The goal was to create a light  that  give a  great result to the  subject  but , sometimes ,  do not completely  dark the  background  .  

Just  as  less light as  possible  in the  “right place “ to create te effect "we like"  :   this is  the way  we used the snoot .  

( btw :  “right place “  is  a subjective  meaning  of  course  ….  anyway  hope you like  the  following photos )


Here  are some  shots  we  taken  .

(  if you like  to see more  , and  in high resolution ,   here is the dedicated Flick gallery : https://www.flickr.c...th/36874751275/









































Second Trip to Triton Bay !

16 April 2018 - 11:07 AM

I came back again to Triton Bay last January 2018 .

It was my second time there ( first time you can read here :   http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=60852  )

The place is still wonderful above and below the water .

What is changed from my first time ?
Now Garuda fly from Jakarta to Kaimana so it is easy ( and reliable ) to get there .
The resort has two more bungalow ( now 6 ) anyway the atmosphere is still intimate and friendly .
There is one more boat ( now 3 ) so group are still maximun 4 divers per DM .
Bungalow , food , great beach , amazing landscape ... all as my past trip .







the resort house reef :






Triton Bay area is one of the best place for pigmy sea horse , and this time finally I saw the Satomy Pigmy .
As small as pontoy ( 1 cm ) , live in the seaweed and often move from one point to another .

Have a look at these two photos and see the kind of arm on the back he use to balance himself during is Flying ! Fantastic creature !
Again many other pigmy and macro subject . Usually the afternoon dive ( 3 ° dive ) was macro oriented . The guide are very good spotter for elusive and mimetic critters .

Here some pigmy denise :














can you see the second pigmy ??


and a very small hairy shrimp :