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Flying Octopuses - comments on the proliferation of these images


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#41 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 01:43 AM

Alex only travels with 1 or 2 housings, while a buddy of mine, who has never sold a picture in his life, carries 3 housings and 3 bodies as backup on long trips.


With the risk of dragging us way off topic, if I was clever enough to have a well paying job then I too would travel with more kit than I do. But I am a poor underwater photographer! Certainly if I was wealthy and did one or two trips a year I would think nothing of the belt and braces approach - two housings, multiple bodies. Why not? You can have all you want for the cost of a luxury car.

But doing this as a job I have to balance expenditure with income - and a second D2X is a lot of money to have sitting in a camera bag doing nothing. Not to mention the excess baggage charges they attract.

So I took the gamble of just buying one body, one housing and luckily I have never had a problem that has stopped me shooting. And if the worst happened on a trip I would live with it. In the end taking underwater photographers is not a life or death business. I am not so desperate to go to all lengths to get images... Oh perhaps this is not so off topic as I thought. :P

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#42 John Bantin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 02:05 AM

With the risk of dragging us way off topic, if I was clever enough to have a well paying job then I too would travel with more kit than I do. But I am a poor underwater photographer! Certainly if I was wealthy and did one or two trips a year I would think nothing of the belt and braces approach - two housings, multiple bodies. Why not? You can have all you want for the cost of a luxury car.

But doing this as a job I have to balance expenditure with income - and a second D2X is a lot of money to have sitting in a camera bag doing nothing. Not to mention the excess baggage charges they attract.

So I took the gamble of just buying one body, one housing and luckily I have never had a problem that has stopped me shooting. And if the worst happened on a trip I would live with it. In the end taking underwater photographers is not a life or death business. I am not so desperate to go to all lengths to get images... Oh perhaps this is not so off topic as I thought. :P

Alex


Yeh! I too want to know which are the airlines that give leeway to professionals! You've obiously never travelled with Singapore Airlines!!!! I am getting Inon strobes simply to save 500 on my next trip with SA if I took Subtronics.

As for expensive kit, Charles Hood just sent me a picture of his new D3, to which I replied he's got more balls that me to risk flooding that! I take one housing and two D200 'cos I'm trying to make a profit!

AS for being cruel to octopus: Go on a fishing trawler if you want to see some cruelty. Or watch an octopus being beaten on the rocks to tenderise it. Not very nice eh?
I'm not condoning it. I'm just saying that cruelty is common. (One or six million - it makes no difference to the individual.)

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#43 Drew

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 02:09 AM

Alex
You are far from off topic. I think it is precisely the blurring of the pro and amateur lines and the competition it starts that has created this proliferation as amateurs/other pros seek to better each other to take the most unique pics.

Now to go off topic, with the number of people upgrading to the D3 or D300... you can pick up a D2x cheap now :P

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#44 John Bantin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 03:05 AM

(Further off topic) I remember as a young man having a stupendous DIY toolkit. I then took on a job (a roof extension) that was too much for me so I called in a professional. He turned up with merely a hammer, a saw and a screwdriver - plus the skill to do the job!

I am still doing very nice conversions from RAW files I shot with the S2 Pro kit I had before I upgraded to a camera through the viewfinder of which I could actually see!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#45 Drew

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 05:01 AM

Yeh! I too want to know which are the airlines that give leeway to professionals! You've obiously never travelled with Singapore Airlines!!!! I am getting Inon strobes simply to save �500 on my next trip with SA if I took Subtronics.

John I travel on SQ at least 12 times a year. And they don't bug me with my housing which I hand carry as cabin luggage. I also think it is very much airport dependent as heathrow is just not traveller friendly. Wot, you don't get comped on flights by Diver? Time to re-negotiate! :P

AS for being cruel to octopus: Go on a fishing trawler if you want to see some cruelty. Or watch an octopus being beaten on the rocks to tenderise it. Not very nice eh?

Sorry John, only when taking a photograph becomes as vital as eating, I'll accept that argument. Until then, I'll still insist that critters be treated with due respect so others may view them as well, instead of scaring them off to another location because they are manhandled.

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#46 hoovermd

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 05:13 AM

Agreed that the fins are the most likely but I've also seen planty of folks using their hands in the sane ad well.
They try the one finger trick and all but just don't realize how little sand it takes to make a shot un-doable (or doable with a 20 minute wait).


Well Mark from my experience, I've noticed it's the fins that cause the problems. It's technique (non-frog kickers) that cause sand storms. It's very easy not to silt up in much even if you're lying on it. Just hold your breath while remaining still until you get high enough to FROG Kick out of the way. Oh and not crawl kick once you turn away because you think you are safe. :P It is a lot more about body control and knowing where your dangly appendages are.


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#47 John Bantin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 05:45 AM

Wot, you don't get comped on flights by Diver? Time to re-negotiate! :P


My tickets are not paid for by me but rarely comped by the airline.
My excess baggage charges come out of my budget.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#48 craig

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:50 AM

Those lights would be much harder to travel with today! Something about 40 pounds worth of batteries. :P Those were the days. I loved those lights.

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#49 dbh

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:56 AM

but I do know that people here will turn their backs when a pro does something inexcusable.


This I do not understand. Do you think that just by knowing them that it will further your u/w photography career (if that is your goal)? Do you think think that if you let their actions slide they will be your friend and you can name drop? Pros put their shoes on one-at-a-time like you & I. If they do something inexcusable, they should be called on it. If they are so arrogant that they dismiss your concerns, take it public (and try to get a pic or a clip of them doing it).

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#50 craig

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:12 AM

Do you think that just by knowing them that it will further your u/w photography career (if that is your goal)? Do you think think that if you let their actions slide they will be your friend and you can name drop?

Sadly, for many the answers are yes and yes, and doing so could very well be beneficial to a photo career.

As an amateur, what a pro thinks of me is generally of little concern. It could effect my access to certain dive opportunities but if it does I won't consider it a loss. That attitude would probably not be healthy to a photo pro career and is one of the reasons I don't pursue such a career. I am poor at politics and self-promotion. Those are important skills for a photo pro and they're the reason I believe pros are reluctant to criticize ill-behaving peers. Pros learn and obtain opportunities from one another so it's valuable to get along. It would be fair for a pro to ask himself if a confrontation would be worth the potential costs. Photo pros, after all, are not obligated to police others any more than anyone else. We will all do what's in our best interest.

Boat operators and dive guides also have motivations to look the other way. Many pros run trips and offer exposure to dive operations. Those operations don't want to jeopardize that. Group leaders and photo pros benefit from significant favoritism for this reason. As an individual diver, you may choose to keep your mouth shut so as to not lose preferential treatment. It's human nature. I've been on the good side of that and the bad side. I wish things were fairer but they are not.

Recently I talked with a diver whom I respect and participates here. We were talking of his experience at Sipidan Water Village and he expressed some disappointment with some of the diving restrictions that I'd never experienced in any of my numerous trips there. The difference was that I traveled in a group whose leader is the US rep for SWV. While I love that resort, I'm aware that I've always gotten superior treatment from them. Why they can't offer superior treatment to everyone I don't understand but it's clear that people will always bend rules and do favors for friends.
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#51 Drew

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 01:02 PM

Photo pros, after all, are not obligated to police others any more than anyone else. We will all do what's in our best interest.

Absolutely. Furthermore, I personally get along with quite a few pros and pro-am types but I won't dive with them or go on a trip if they are reef wreckers, no matter how much I like them. They are not going to change, I can't stand their behavior, but I'm not going to lose a friend over this. So the best defence is to not dive with the person. What I don't see (but often hear) doesn't hurt. They know exactly how I feel about it and they try their best, but if on a trip I just dive AWAY from all of them because I'd get all worked up. I learnt long ago that shoving doctrine on others is never as effective as just leading by example and stating your case. If they want to change, they will. A lot of these people are actually very nice people, they just have poor diving manners. :P (please note I'm not an angel either)

Boat operators and dive guides also have motivations to look the other way. Many pros run trips and offer exposure to dive operations. Those operations don't want to jeopardize that. Group leaders and photo pros benefit from significant favoritism for this reason. As an individual diver, you may choose to keep your mouth shut so as to not lose preferential treatment. It's human nature. I've been on the good side of that and the bad side. I wish things were fairer but they are not.

For sure, that's the way of the world. I avoid operations that do this (unless they give me preferential treatmen :D) because I pay good money and like equal treatment. I remember going to a resort in Fiji where the US rep came through. The food and quality of service was up 30% when they were there and went back down when they left. I'd be ok with that if I paid less than what the US rep clients paid but I don't (unlike around asia where you can get local rates which are 40-50% lower than gringo rates, but you get crappier food and service, which is fine by me if I pay the local rate). That said, there are the rare operators who will defend their pristine reefs against most anyone, even the pros.

While I love that resort, I'm aware that I've always gotten superior treatment from them. Why they can't offer superior treatment to everyone I don't understand but it's clear that people will always bend rules and do favors for friends.

One word... MONEY.

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#52 AllisonFinch

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 02:34 PM

The only thing I have to say is that alot of of the guides in Thailand have these sticks and they are refered to as "Lembeh sticks", even here, and everyone knows what they are used for.

Personally I think they should be banned, a finger is good enough to point out stuff, as for manipulation , don't get me started on what devastation I see here.

Spen


I will heartily disagree with you on the use of "Lembeh Sticks". I call them sand spikes and they are a wonderful tool for photographers. Not for manipulating or harassing wildlife, but for stabilizing your position when your whole world is being focused through a tiny viewfinder. I have excellent bouyancy skills, but I am able to slowly push it into the sand (yes, I check for burrows first). I can then use it to slowly reposition myself, pulling on it to creep up on a subject. It keeps you from having to fin to keep your position. I can also use it as a monopod to steady my ungainly rig. It is especially helpful in surges or currents. One little tip is much better that grabbing what you think might be dead coral.

Yes, dumb people can use it incorrectly....just as they can use ANY piece of gear incorrectly. Banning it from the responsible people will, ultimately, cause more damage to reef structures. Just yank them off the hands of the stupid.


As for the octos in the water column. I have been diving over 35 years and have only seen an octo up in the water column of its own accord a couple of times. Even the mimics I have seen have mostly stayed along the bottom contour. Do they ever go up? Certainly (mostly when they are under great stress). Does it account for all the photos we are suddenly seeing? I hardly think so.

Edited by AllisonFinch, 15 March 2008 - 02:50 PM.


#53 Paul Kay

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:32 AM

AS for being cruel to octopus: Go on a fishing trawler if you want to see some cruelty. Or watch an octopus being beaten on the rocks to tenderise it.


I'd actually have a lot less problem with people interfering with creatures if they were honest about it! As John says do go on a trawler, which does more damage (and is thoroughly cruel to boot) in one day than we could probably manage in our diving careers.

And Drew, your reply to John ("Sorry John, only when taking a photograph becomes as vital as eating, I'll accept that argument") is really only viable if there were not alternatives to eat which did not involve unsustainable destruction and the fish caught were absolutely essential food for survival. Problem is we don't NEED to take underwater photographs, nor MUST we eat fish caught damagingly and cruelly.

But my take on all this is that taking an image which is not true (ie someone has forced something to happen in some way) is the visual equivalent of lying, and I don't like being lied to! Sadly I KNOW that images which have involved far worse practices than those described here have been passed off as 'natural history photographs' and have been published as such. As a result there are photographers that I have zero time for - no matter how good their images.
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#54 Drew

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 03:34 AM

And Drew, your reply to John ("Sorry John, only when taking a photograph becomes as vital as eating, I'll accept that argument") is really only viable if there were not alternatives to eat which did not involve unsustainable destruction and the fish caught were absolutely essential food for survival. Problem is we don't NEED to take underwater photographs, nor MUST we eat fish caught damagingly and cruelly.

Paul, approx 1 billion people in the world rely on protein from the sea. When they can start eating a jpg of an octopus, I'll start worrying. :P As for cruel, I personally don't believe there is cruelty in killing for food. Nothing in the natural world isn't 'cruel'. However, photography is a strictly, AFAIK, human affair and thus can be judged with more scrutiny on cruelty.
And I absolutely agree that there are far more destructive methods used for taking photos. Would negative publicity change their ways, say posting a video of the perpertrator playing pingpong with a mimic? Or would that be too cruel?

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#55 John Bantin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 03:43 AM

But my take on all this is that taking an image which is not true (ie someone has forced something to happen in some way) is the visual equivalent of lying, and I don't like being lied to! Sadly I KNOW that images which have involved far worse practices than those described here have been passed off as 'natural history photographs' and have been published as such. As a result there are photographers that I have zero time for - no matter how good their images.


I confess that I have spent around 25 years making things happen for a particular photograph in order to satisfy the preconceptions of advertising agency art-directors!

Today, I try to tell the truth - well almost!

(I do clone out the grollies in the water and make underwater scenes look generally more attractive than they are. I blame that on Alex. I call it "mustardization" in his honour!!!)

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#56 Paul Kay

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 06:06 AM

The RPS define unacceptable manipulation as that which alters the fundamental truth of the image. Clearly this can be taken further by altering the fundamental truth of the subject - ie causing it to do something which may not be what it would normally or often do. Don't think cloning out grollies qualifies here!!!

When taking an underwater photo, we, as photographers, personally apply our own ethics to how we approach and take it. Same applies to eating fish - on a personal basis. If you can afford to take underwater images, you can afford to make ethical decisions about eating unsustainably/destructively/cruelly caught fish - I accept that many people can't afford to be so choosy, but they aren't underwater photographers.

Negative publicity might work but might also have legal repercussions!
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#57 secretsea18

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 10:31 AM

Back on topic!

It is interesting to see the entries in the POTW "Octopus". There are several mimic/wonderpus octopi in the water column in just this one online contest. If not "enticed" into the water column, these octopi in Lembeh must truly have learned their swimming skills well.

#58 AllisonFinch

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:02 AM

Well....Let's face it....the votes are in!!
When 4 out of the six winning pictures in the POTW octo contest show octos up in the water column, it is obvious that this is the new "gimmick". Pygmy seahorses are out, Squat lobsters are out, mandarin fish are out, jawfish with eggs are out, that means the new "in" picture has been discovered. Too bad for some of the octos.

#59 stewsmith

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:34 AM

what part of touching sea creatures is wrong.?
is it ok to touch sea creatures if we are not taking photos of them!
or is it still frowned upon if we touch sea creatures even though we are not photographing them.

i remember years ago going to the seaside with my family and climbing around the rock pools looking for little crabs and shrimps with my dad. was this so wrong of me to do so. should i not take my nephews and neices down to swanage or devon and show them around the rock pools. because of this involvement/interaction i had from an early age with the sea, it made me curious as to what was in the sea and so i become a diver.

if the animals in question ie octopus, were not harmed or distressed by lifting them into the water column is it so bad. i personally havent ever lifted an octopus, but i admit i have nudged the odd nudi to get a better shot. of course there are not too many people around that have the balls to say that they have also done this.

if the images taken are entered into a competition and the rules are quite clear that no harassment shots are allowed then that is the rule. do we not think that firing high powered strobes at close range to pygmy seahorses is ok. it would be quite intresting to hear from a few of the pygmys from lembeh.

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#60 cor

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:36 AM

Whoa down boy. No one says every shot is harassment, just that many who want the same shot may push towards harassment to get it since it is a rare shot.

If I ever photograph an octopus naturally like that, I sure wont publicize it. These discussions may help raise awareness, but I think this subject is now completely unusable professionally or even privately for fear of being burned at the stake. I may even decide not to even photograph this if it happens.

Another subject permanently lost...

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