Norb as everyone calls him, is a take control guy with a charismatic personality that is apparent after he speaks. He has more of a broadcasters type voice and confidence about him that he has more than earned through photography and video work. Norb is a real guy no B.S. he is really funny and tells it like it is. He didn’t act like a professional host of the trip he was more of your buddy on the trip. His wife made some killer cookies we ate on the bus ride across the border. He and Eric get along great, as did everyone on the trip having a similar sense of humor. Along with us amateurs on the trip that are really into U.W photography or video, there were two other photographers who were friends of Norb’s from Scripps that had worked with him in a professional capacity in the past. Also another professional U.W. photographer Doug Seifert who can’t say more than two sentences without a joke or sarcastic remark that is always too funny.
The Solmar V ship was gorgeous, details like the recessed under the counter sink in my room and the interior on the boat were quite elegant with nice wood trim. A 42’ plasma tv in the main area gave a modern and upscale look to the lounge/dining areas. Food was outstanding, I mean outstanding. The crew was on it from the word go. Right there with your weights, regs, they knew your camera setup within the first day. They lifted cages and boats, never had a technical problem, and wrangled the sharks to perfection. Can’t say enough about the Solmar V crew and boat.
Around twenty two hours to get to Guadalupe not being travel ready I knew I would get sea sick from reading other journals. With all these hard core divers I wanted to get sick without anyone knowing. I took medicine and fought it all day out. I noticed others not being 100% and some got sick before I did. I could only eat half my dinner and later in the evening I lost it all. About 5 min after that I was 100% and had no trouble the rest of the trip as did everyone else.
Everyone got along well on the trip, I think everyone spent some time with each other. The shark action was good but I think we all expected a little more from other journals and past expeditions. The action on Day 2 and day 5 was great and the best days by far for photos. Day three was a little slow with only a few passes and a cause for some frustration. Doug set me straight, as a veteran from 6 White Sharks trips in other remote areas. He explained how lucky we were to be in Guadalupe in great conditions with decent shark action that you would normally have to pay twice as much and travel twice as far with less action or even no action at all. We didn’t have pole cam’s out and not that many baits taken but we had shark’s everyday. When AC/DC went on through the UW speaker the sharks seemed to arrive as if on cue. They were really cautious and did not make many tight passes on the cage. My ancient setup compared to everyone else was a D100 in an Aquatica housing with a 17-55 lens. The 17-55 was a good choice. I tried the 10.5 but didn’t get much. Most had seacams and nice HD/light & motion setups. I am proud of the images I am keeping and could have improved to get a few more with a little more action, but my extra time in the cage is what helped. Many times there was a single pass and a lull for a couple of hours. Except on day two I think I stayed in the cage as much as I wanted. Taking shark watch gave me a few extra shots I would not have had. Eric, Norb and Doug having already awesome shots in the past were gracious and spent little time in the cages to give the others the opportunities even when the action picked up. When they were in the cage they didn’t miss their chances. Norb shot both film and digital. I saw one of Norb’s pics and a bunch of Eric’s. They really nail the shots and wait for the right moment while I am like “Shark! Shark!, snap snap,. My inexpererince cost me a few good shots on day two, but I learned fast,: be patient, stay low, try to predict where they may end up, learn the behavior in taking the baits. Oh and keep the micro bubbles off the dome port.
In the evenings after an awesome meal it was laptop city, picture editing, video editing while a movie might be on. I got to see some of Eric’s work and being a member of W.P. for a while and seeing his personal site I had no idea just how good he is. Not that I have any superior qualifications but I have seen a ton of U.W. stuff and know a good picture, and Eric has a great eye and along with superior technical skills. His images have a richness and vivid look without oversaturation or over contrast. Being a big Norb fan I must say I was really inspired by Eric’s work and also watching him in action on the trip both U.W and Top side. Eric is pure, meaning he wants it right from the camera with minimal touching in P.S, and I mean minimal. And he gets it. Watching him work on his computer, fast typing, to the mouse, more typing, mouse keyboard, mouse keyboard.. it is like watching a concert pianist perform there best work on the most familiar keyboard. He will go through dozens of pics while I tweak one for 10 min.
Early in the trip there was a boat tagging and tracking the sharks. I am sorry I don’t know the person’s name or affiliation but he came aboard and had a book identifying almost 100 sharks that visit Gudalupe. He looked at some of our pictures and video to identify the sharks in the area and added one or two.
Morning of Day 3 I believe they lowered the small boat in for a close tour of the seals on the Island which was a great photo op. It went out again on day four and the engine crapped out. I was pulled out of the cage for a minor rescue operation, it was quite the time for jokes and pictures.
There wasn’t a lot of instruction or technical conversation on the trip, Norb kept to himself for the most part, but both he and Eric were always helpful with any questions and very encouraging when they saw something good on someone’s computer. I remember asking Norb about camera shake in the cage and how to avoid it as you were constantly bounced around, sometimes very hard. The next day Norb said “I thought more about you question” and instructed me on how to take a steadier picture in these conditions. Many had drysuits and you should see the bruising a few had from being bounced around, It looked worse than it felt they said. I was happy with my 7mil suit. Doug was also real helpful when I asked him what settings he used on his past trips.
Sometimes it is better to observe so I held many questions and started watching. I noticed all of us in the cage hanging at the 18” opening that the cage has at eye level which is like 3-4 feet from the surface. That makes sense to a cage builders who figure we are standing up and that’s what everyone does. Not Norb and Eric, when the sharks come they drop down with their cameras through the bars shooting up. There is more opportunity and more time as the shark descends from the baits. At eye level your chances come and go too fast and then you are shooting down on the shark. Watching and learning from these guys during the week was a real enhancement to the trip. On the bus home Eric found out W.P was hacked, he and Norb were scheduled to go out again. Eric though he might not make it. he seemed to form a plan of repair and prevention during our long wait at the border and executed it when back at a computer. Here are a couple of my favorites pics from the trip, also is the link for my slide show with some other shots if you’re interested. Don’t miss Eric’s slide show on his site under his journal for a few of his awesome shots, the last shark shot on his slide show is avery exciting GW shark photo. These and a few more images are on my site under Great White Sharks, I still have more to edit:
Right click to full screen
slide show : http://www.photodex....h...59885&alb=0
My web site
Erics slide show
Edited by Photobeat, 04 September 2006 - 08:54 AM.