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Humpback Vid


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#1 tonywu

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 06:16 PM

Hi everyone,

A short vid from Tonga while Eric was there with me. Testing out the Seatools HC3 housing, quick 'n dirty edit with iMovie to upload from location.

The housing is really compact and lightweight, so great for limited baggage allowances. The HC3 camera has quite a few limitations (very few manual controls), so it's really suitable mostly for home video-type stuff. The housing itself is really simple to use, but there's no external LCD monitor, so you've either got to squint via the tiny viewfinder, or use the built-in viewer on the left hand side that provides a reflection of the camera's LCD screen (this was too awkward an arrangement for me to handle)

Some pix of the whales at my Flickr page (taken with Canon 1Ds MkII, 1D MkII and 5D), with more to come as I get time to upload.


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#2 NickJ

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 06:49 PM

Gorgeous stuff Tony. Some material is so compelling it doesn't matter if you shoot with a Box-Brownie! Quality looks v good though despite the HC3 limitations.

Reminded me of your excellent presentation pre-ADEX earlier this year in Singapore. Heather and I still talk about your slides. Looks like you will be sticking with your Canons for your main love - stills, but I'd kill to be alongside you shooting these beauties with an FX1!

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#3 CamDiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 01:39 AM

Hey Tony,
Nice stuff. It must be incredible to swim with those graceful animals. I was filming Sperm Whales last year in the Sea of Cortez so can appreciate the kind of experience you must have had. Mind you the Blue Waters of Tonga are a great improvement on the pea soup we had during our six weeks in Baja.

Congratulations again, nice stuff.
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#4 tonywu

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 06:04 AM

Thanks guys. I'm thinking about using the HVX200 soon. The main issue is bulk. When you gotta swim several km a day, it's nice to have a tiny setup like the HC3. Of course, the difference in quality is obvious. Maybe next season I'll take along a better set up.

Mark, if you want crystal-clear blue water + sperm whales, I know a couple of places...
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#5 Mary Lynn

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:03 AM

Great video, Tony!

What impressed me most was how stable your footage was in the closer shots of the mom and calf. For anyone who hasn't tried filming while swimming mostly on the surface as is done in Tonga with the Humpbacks, it's tough! And while the weight limitations of travel to Tonga these days make using a smaller housing more desireable, filming with one of the smaller set-ups adds a further challenge to getting stable video. So your footage is especially good for the conditions involved!

I also think the HC3 held its own quite well, and really is an amazing little camcorder. And it's just so small! Thank you for sharing your video!

Tonga was so cool--I really loved it and hope to return next whale season. Only sorry that our trips didn't overlap...maybe next year!?

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#6 CamDiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 02:03 PM

Tony,
I know of the Azores and am possibly planning to look at a trip there in the future as its also a particularly good place for baitballs of all things. Mind you not so many sharks but lots of dolphins and gannets. They have a pretty guaranteed Sperm Whale season there with a tourism industry based around it. I think Bob Cranston done a load of stuff there too with Theodore Pitcairn.

New Zealand too but maybe a bit too cold to spend four plus hours in the water a day.

Keep up the good work. I was tempted by the HVX200 but as you say bulk is the issue. If they have 16GB cards that would have made it so much more attractive.

Cheers,
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#7 tonywu

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 06:13 PM

Hey Mary Lynn,

Hope your trip was fun. Did you get the note I left for you at the reception desk?

The HC3 is great for its size and price. Just left me wishing for a lot more, but that's probably b/c I'm overly obsessive about all gear! And you're absolutely right about stability issues. What a challenge with the swells, finning, and having to look through the tiny viewfinder...all while trying not to disturb the whales. The whales are fantastic, aren't they? We had another terrific season, and I'll be back there for 6-8 weeks next year. Let me know if you make plans to go.

BTW, I just learned last week that Chuck and Marty are staying at the same place in Lembeh that I'll be visiting. Of course, no overlap again! I arrive the day Marty leaves. No video for me on this trip, just stills.

Mark,

Japan is the best place I've found so far. Crystal-clear viz, reasonably warm water, and a stable population of females and calfs. Of course, it's difficult to get to, relatively expensive, and the optimal time is right smack in the middle of typhoon season. From Palau, it wouldn't be too difficult to travel to Japan. I'm thinking about heading there either next year or the year after. The only problem is that it conflicts with the Tongan humpback season, so it seems that I can't have my humpbacks and sperm whales at the same time. Life is so unfair.

The 16GB cards should be out soon according to Panasonic head office. They'll be expensive, of course.
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#8 CamDiver

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:42 PM

Mark,

Japan is the best place I've found so far. Crystal-clear viz, reasonably warm water, and a stable population of females and calfs. Of course, it's difficult to get to, relatively expensive, and the optimal time is right smack in the middle of typhoon season. From Palau, it wouldn't be too difficult to travel to Japan. I'm thinking about heading there either next year or the year after. The only problem is that it conflicts with the Tongan humpback season, so it seems that I can't have my humpbacks and sperm whales at the same time. Life is so unfair.

The 16GB cards should be out soon according to Panasonic head office. They'll be expensive, of course.


Hi Tony,
Sounds good, plus not too far from here. I have a few contacts in Japan so I may look into that. What region? Izu Peninsula?

The 16GB cards may well come out but its getting them to the masses. The 8GB's were out for quite some time but people were still having problems actually getting their hands on them. Thats going by certain accounts from HVX200 dedicated forums etc. If you go that route I wish you all the best. Let us know of your progress.

Regards,
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#9 Mary Lynn

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:02 PM

Yes, they brought your note right to my room, Tony--very cool! You realize Marty's probably checking into the hotel in Tonga as I write this? And I've heard a lot about that new resort in Lembeh--sounds like it's going to be a great place and I'm very interested to hear what you think of it.

Chuck got some pretty good footage in Tonga, we'll get together tomorrow and share clips. I'm hoping there's enough there to make a little podcast, and include some interview footage I also did over there. Our guide, Karen, was telling me something about you seeing what may have been a northern Humpback as well? Anything to that? We recorded some Humpback songs that were unlike anything Chuck has ever heard (you know he and his son, Flip, were probably the first to film singing Humpbacks way back when?) He's going to send an audio file of that off to Flip in Maui to see what he thinks.

I really loved that the whale songs came through so well on the video. Maybe that will help make up for my fairly unstable footage--that and a lot of slomo?! I really really do want to do this again next season!

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#10 wagsy

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:10 PM

Wow Tony...how lucky are you....what a buzz.....well done...
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#11 MikeVeitch

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:15 PM

aha.. Mary Lynn, you got to meet and dive with my friends Karen and Paul! I hope they treated you well... :blink:

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#12 Mary Lynn

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 08:37 PM

Mike, wow! Karen and Paul are wonderful! Karen was also one of my interviews, she's a natural on camera, very well-spoken. (And they are building a dream home there in Tonga that may make it so they never want to leave!) I was very impressed with the two of them and their dedication.

I think these will be important years for Tonga with the new king and the pressure on the smaller countries to cave in on conservation issues so intense. It gives me hope that by dive operators working well with the local people that the value of eco-tourism will be made more apparent and conservation/restoration win out. But it's going to be tough haul. Folks like Paul and Karen can really make a difference in this. You have some good people there!

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#13 Nick Hope

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 09:06 PM

Cool stuff Tony. Looks like you faded to black just as it was about to give you a slap with its tale :blink:

Was Eric shooting video or stills?

#14 tonywu

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 02:16 AM

Hey everyone,

Bubblevision, close, but not quite with the tail! The calfs tend not to have great control over their bodies. It's quite funny sometimes watching them flop around. When there's a friendly calf with a laid-back mom, the calfs can really get excited, not unlike puppies or human babies. Sometimes they get a bit spastic in their enthusiasm. The funniest moments are when the babies seem to surprise themselves with their own pectoral fins – what a riot!

Eric had his trusty Eos 1Ds MkII with him. You should have seen the expression on his face! Of course, I still get that geeky expression on each and every encounter.

Mary Lynn, this is what Karen was referring to: http://www.tonywublo...-and-white.html

I've been doing the rounds in the research community, reading lots of papers on the subject. It seems like there's strong support for inter-oceanic basin migration, but no one's willing to go out on a limb for inter-hemisphere migration yet. I'm trying to figure out a way to initiate a long-term study. Have a few folks interested, so we'll see what happens. I'll be keeping an eye out for the unusually coloured whales next year too, and asking everyone else to do the same.

The new resort in Lembeh should be really nice. Will send you a report when I get back, though Chuck and Marty will get back to the US before I'm done, so you might hear from them first.

Wagsy, really nice review on the housing! Makes me want to charge out and get one immediately.

Mark, not near Izu. Out in Ogasawara which is about half way to Micronesia. Really tough to get to, and there's really only one captain out there who knows the whales well enough to help w/ photos/ video. If you really want to go, email me separately and I'll be happy to introduce you. This is the place where I ended up in the mouth of a curious sperm whale.

Mike, I got to meet Paul and Karen b/c Eric heard about them from you. Thanks for the indirect intro!
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#15 MikeVeitch

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 02:46 AM

This is the place where I ended up in the mouth of a curious sperm whale.



Now Tony... you can't just walk away without expanding on that one!!!! :blink:

Glad to hear you met Paul and Karen as well... tis truly a small world, i have got to get out there!!

NOw if i just had a decent connection i could download your video... oh well....

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#16 tonywu

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 03:41 AM

Hey Mike,

Really long story, best told over a nice cold beer (or suitable alternative beverage), but quick highlights...2 weeks of enduring 4 typhoons, finally coming across a really curious 9-metre sperm whale (juvenile), me alone in the big blue with large swells, fast approaching whale pinging me with sonar, lots of mouth-opening/ showing of large, pretty teeth, me ending up spread-eagle on the whale's head, then with my foot in its mouth. Interesting sensation, one that I don't highly recommend.

Fortunately, a happy ending, as it was just curious, so I spent 3 hours playing "swim in circles", "tag" and "see who can swim faster and deeper" with my overgrown aquatic puppy until I got too tired and decided to call it quits. The whale still wanted to play, and splashed the boat with water several times to ask me to come back in. Have lots of pix and great memories.

Actually requires about 30 minutes to tell the full story (complete with embellishments). And there's a part 2 also, with a second whale...

Don't know if you have sufficient bandwidth to read this: http://www.tony-wu.c...icle.php?aid=30
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#17 MikeVeitch

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 04:55 AM

hey thanks Tony...

great read that article! nothing better than having your fin chomped by the world's largest carnivore.....

:blink:

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#18 Drew

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 05:24 AM

Peeps,
Beware that other than Tonga, many countries have whalewatching laws and posting of pictures and video from those places can be used in prosecution. Even if not actively pursued, marine harassment issues will arise, esp if you submit photos and video to competitions and broadcast. FYI.
As for Japan, yes they actually have those laws in place, but if they dare to prosecute, I'd like to see how they justify scientific experiments on 150 whales a year in court.

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#19 tonywu

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 06:07 AM

Hey Mike,

Yeah, makes great whites seem like guppies

Scubadru,

I speak Japanese fluently and have a great relationship with the whalewatching authorities. One of the images won the major u/w photo competition in Japan, was published on the front page of the Asahi Shimbun and was one of the photos of the year.
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#20 Drew

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 06:52 AM

Tonywu
I was being VERY sarcastic about the Japanese. I seriously doubt they'd enforce any sort of interaction protocol since they are actively hunting the whales. :blink:
Just warning of the possibilities. Take it for what it's worth to you.

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