Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Aboard the M/V Jazz


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 vkalia

vkalia

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 172 posts

Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:59 AM

Last month, my wife and I went on a 5 day liveaboard aboard the M/V Jazz, visiting the Similans, Koh Bon and Richeleu Rock.

I had been going through a bit of a dry spell photography locally - no inspiration and nothing innovative in my work. So I was looking forward to a few days of diving new sites and getting new looks at things, and also seeing what things were like on the opposite side of the Andaman Sea. I also decided to focus primarily on wide-angle stuff, and so packed the Tokina 10-17 and the Sigma 17-70 as a backup/general lens. The macro stuff stayed behind.

After spending a couple of days in Bangkok picking up some spare dive gear and a couple of days of lounging on beach chairs at the Marriott in Phuket, we were picked up by Patrick, the owner of Siam Adventure Divers and transferred to the boat. After a short and to-the-point briefing by Rick, Clive & Jeff, the 3 instructors on the boat, we were off. We were assigned to a group with 2 other experienced divers, which was fine by us. There were no dives scheduled for the evening, so I took the opportunity to set up my camera gear and catch up on Season 2 of "24" (Kim Bauer needs to die. Seriously).

Day 1 - 3 dives in the Similans. The water at this time of the year was starting to turn green due to plankton. Funnily, even though we are based a scant few hundred kilometers on the other side of the Andaman Sea, our own waters are still blue. Go figure. The dives on this day were nice - lots of large rock formations (something which I found to be a unique feature of this area - and also something very different from what we get). For wideangle, there really wasnt a whole lot of photo opportunities except gorgonians and rocks. We did have a nice encounter with a turtle on one dive - and while we were spending time shooting it, we missed a leopard shark that came very close to the other divers in the group.

Posted Image

Day 2 - 4 more dives in the Similans, including Elephant Head Rock and Koh Bon. Now the diving was starting to pick up. The underwater pinnacles were getting bigger, the fishlife was increasing and there were more interesting photo ops. There was a beautiful dive on Elephant Head Rock, which ended up being a bit of a struggle for me and my housing due to the current: normally, I wear long Cressi fins which work really well in a current. This time, I was diving in "borrowed gear" and between the additional drag of a traditional BCD instead of my usual BP/wings, and so-called high-tech fins which sucked at propulsion, I was working harder than a sweatshop laborer trying to meet his sneaker quota. There was a very large anglerfish on this reef, which took one look at me hanging on to a rock and my 8" dome port sneaking closer, and resolutely turned the other way. So a bit of a bitter-sweet dive for me: great rock formations & swim-throughs but less than optimal shots and more of a workout than my lazy ass wanted. And there was more: as I was doing my safety stop and contemplating anglerfishicide, my wife pointed into the blue.. and behold, a large manta was swooping in towards us. We were the closest to it, and it looked as if it was coming close. However, just as I starting getting my camera ready, some yobo decided to charge towards it, sticking out his P&S and clicking away like mad. The manta immediately banked and was gone. Yup. Definitely bitter-sweet. Highlights of the day were some lionfish swimming in the open, a habituated turtle porn-starring in the hopes of getting food (I literally had to keep swimming out of his way, as he kept banging into my dome port) & the afore-mentioned hard-to-photograph anglerfish.

Posted Image

Day 3 - 3 dives again. Pritha was feeling a little unwell and decided to skip the early AM dive. A shame, because as our group was swimming along at 25m or so, I noticed a pair of leopard sharks cavorting below me. Dropping down to get in place, I realized that I was at almost 50m. No matter- the sharks were in some kind of a mating dance, and oblivious to my presence, so I set up shop a foot or so away from them and started shooting, changing positions only when a careless tail whacked me in the head. Far to soon, I had to come up or I wouldnt have had enough air to complete my deco. Only while reviewing my images did I realize that thanks to a little more narcosis than usual, I had gotten a few shots with a strobe in the bleeding corner of the frame. Still, I had left myself room to crop later and so ended up with quite a few keepers from this dive. Pritha was very jealous!

Posted Image

Day 4 - 2 dives planned for the day at Richeleu Rock. There were 2 nice seahorses on display as well as a ghost pipefish. I had a nice look at them, but didnt bother shooting them with the fisheye. I did watch a particularly clueless diver come very close to ramming headfirst into a lionfish while trying to photograph the seahorses, so oblivious she was to her surroundings. Of course, this was same diver who had, atleast twice on this trip so far, completely wreck coral heads with her fins. Both times, I was too late in getting to her and I had discreetly brought this up with the dive guides of the boat as well. But no avail. People should really need to meet some kind of buoyancy requirements before being allowed to use a camera!

Posted Image

And all too soon, it was over. We were dropped off and transferred back to Phuket, and next day, it was time to fly back home.

Posted Image

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip. The boat was well-run, groups were well-managed and we got our diving freedom. The diving platform in the back was reasonably spacious and they had large rinse tanks for camera gear. Food was wholesome, tasty and mostly Thai - which was great. We had a bit of a problem with the boat's aircon on the first couple of days, but they brought in an aircon technician to fix it midway through the cruise - after that, it was nice and cold in the rooms.

The rooms themselves were ok. Not very large, but reasonable-sized beds and adequate storage space for our stuff (we pack light). The bathrooms were typically liveaboard fare - small and efficient. Our room didnt have a sink, however - which would have been nice, but wasn't really the end of the world one way or the other. For a mid-range boat, the rooms were just fine.

The 3 dive guides were very professional and thorough with their briefings, and the boat was always on hand to pick us up. From a photography point of view, I'd probably have preferred to do repeat dives on the same sites (especially Elephant Head Rock), but given that this was a general liveaboard and not a specialized photo one, that is just a thought and not a complaint or anything.

I came back from that trip with my batteries recharged and am hitting our local reefs with a gusto again. Was very satisfied with everything aboard the M/V Jazz and would definitely go out with them again.

Vandit

Posted Image

DIVEIndia - Dive the Andaman Islands
Instagram:  @vanditkalia

7D, Aquatica case, Inon 45 degree finder, 2 Inon Z240s, Stix arms, Tokina 10-17FE, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 50 macro, Canon 100 macro and Macromate 2x macro adapter


#2 JTan

JTan

    Hermit Crab

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 15 May 2008 - 06:39 AM

Hi Vkalia,

Nice shots and great to hear of the trip report. I was on the MV Jazz from 14-19th April 2008 and met Ric and Clive the two instructors on our trip. We had a nice bunch of passengers, and the Thai food was great thanks to Pe May the cook.

You said you watched "24", was this before my trip because the TV in the saloon area displayed a squashed picture on the second day and thereafter on our trip.

Here are my shots taken with my humble Canon A80:
http://picasaweb.goo...IslandsOnMVJazz

Cheers,
JTan

#3 sgietler

sgietler

    Tiger Shark

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 652 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:los angeles, ca

Posted 15 May 2008 - 07:53 AM

nice report vandit. I really like the photo of the schooling fish, and the turtle also. It must have been very cool to see the leopard sharks mating. did one of their tails hit you in the head??

scott

#4 vkalia

vkalia

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 172 posts

Posted 15 May 2008 - 10:51 AM

JTan - we were there Apr 1-5. Clive was our guide & Pey May (presumably not the head of the White Lotus Clan) was the cook on that trip as well. I was actually watching 24 on my Archos player - we did watch a few movies on the TV and they seemed fine.

Scott - it was definitely a great sighting. They were so engrossed that they let me get real close and personal - and yeah, it was one of their tails that boffed me on the head (not too hard, though).

Vandit

Posted Image

DIVEIndia - Dive the Andaman Islands
Instagram:  @vanditkalia

7D, Aquatica case, Inon 45 degree finder, 2 Inon Z240s, Stix arms, Tokina 10-17FE, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 50 macro, Canon 100 macro and Macromate 2x macro adapter


#5 Christian K

Christian K

    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 381 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Stockholm

Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:59 PM

Some great images Vandit!

/christian

#6 JTan

JTan

    Hermit Crab

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:04 AM

Hi Vandit,

Gosh your shots are amazingly clear. How much post processing you guys do to make those shots look more "real" than reality itself? There isn't any blue tint of the water.

Did Ric put on the film "Le Monde du silence"? it was a Jacques Cousteau historic underwater documentary that featured some pretty amazingly footage for an environmental film (e.g using dynamite to survey reef marine life, and chasing a baby whale and "accidentally" hitting it and having it run through the boat's props).

The TV on the second day displayed a warped image, hopefully it is getting fixed/replaced for the next round of passengers.

Cheers,
JTan

JTan - we were there Apr 1-5. Clive was our guide & Pey May (presumably not the head of the White Lotus Clan) was the cook on that trip as well. I was actually watching 24 on my Archos player - we did watch a few movies on the TV and they seemed fine.

Posted Image



#7 vkalia

vkalia

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 172 posts

Posted 21 May 2008 - 06:55 AM

Christian - thanks for the comments and goddam, those are nice photos you got there yourself. I've been dying to get that barracuda funnel myself - we have a local site where we get a school of 100-300 cudas regularly, but every blasted time i go there with a camera, they refuse to funnel. Once they started, but as soon as I got into position, they took off. I particularly enjoy grilled barracuda for dinner these days :huh:

JTan - I dont do a lot of post-processing. I just try to minimize my working distance - all the shots above were taken with the subject within 1-2 feet of the camera. That helps with clarity. Then I simply run preset actions for contrast, saturation and sharpness and I'm done - average PP time 2-3 min per image. I do spend more time with images that are being published or printed, however. The 2 shark shot have no blue b/c they were shot at 50m, and there was virtually no ambient light.

Yes, they did play that Cousteau video. Good god, wasnt that something? It made me curl my toes, just watching some of that stuff (let's not forget the turtle riding!). Admittedly, standards have changed a fair bit between now and then, but still.... that bleeding baby whale is pretty much where I bowed out of the video.

Vandit

DIVEIndia - Dive the Andaman Islands
Instagram:  @vanditkalia

7D, Aquatica case, Inon 45 degree finder, 2 Inon Z240s, Stix arms, Tokina 10-17FE, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 50 macro, Canon 100 macro and Macromate 2x macro adapter


#8 JudyG

JudyG

    Sea Nettle

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 13 posts
  • Location:Vancouver, British Columbia

Posted 04 July 2008 - 10:12 AM

Thanks so much for an excellent report and images. We dove the same area Christmas 2007 on The Junk and my takeaway on the diving was similar to yours - would have hoped for better viz (was a bit milky everywhere we dove - all the way up to the Surins), but generally greatly enjoyed the diving, most especially at Richelieu Rock and a couple of sites in the Similans. We did see mantas at Koh Bon, but between droves of reef-whacking newbie manta chasers and sploogey viz there were no decent photo ops to be had there.

The leopard shark mating dance shots are great captures!

J.

#9 diggy

diggy

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 490 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mumbai, India
  • Interests:U/W Photography

Posted 07 July 2008 - 02:45 AM

Hiya Vinnie,

Great report and some lovely images. Definately want to check out the shark pics. Hopefully in Nov...will hit Andamans again.

I can sense that the stagnation has come to an end and the creative juices are flowing again :lol:

Cheers and take care,

Diggy

SERENE I FOLD MY HANDS AND WAIT,    FOR WHAT IS MINE WILL KNOW MY FACE

Diggy          http://www.scubadiggy.com/

Canon7D, Nauticam housing, mini and large dome, canon 100mm, canon 60mm, 10-17 tokina, macro ports, extensions, two inon Z240, Nauticam SMC converter, +3, +5 diopters. Two Sola 2000, One Sola 1200, Go Pro hero 3 Black 


#10 vkalia

vkalia

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 172 posts

Posted 13 July 2008 - 08:00 AM

Thanks for the comments, Judy. The crowds are a reason why I dont think I'll be doing another dive holiday in Thailand anytime soon... I dont really like diving in crowds.

Diggy, yeah, am seeing properly again. I think the 50mm macro lens did the trick - I see a lot more photo ops with it than I did with the fisheye or the 100mm macro (and I hve a new 400mm on the way for topsides inspiration) :) Let me know when you are coming to the Andamans again - will be great to have you back (Pritha and I are not going to be there ourselves for the bulk of this coming season, but we're opening up diving in the north this season.... all new stuff)

V.

DIVEIndia - Dive the Andaman Islands
Instagram:  @vanditkalia

7D, Aquatica case, Inon 45 degree finder, 2 Inon Z240s, Stix arms, Tokina 10-17FE, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 50 macro, Canon 100 macro and Macromate 2x macro adapter