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Turn your flash off please


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#1 Scubysnaps

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 02:21 PM

I recently went to Marsa Alam (with Emperor), and had 3 bouts of problems with the guides taking (or trying to take) photos with my flash...
1 Taking photos of 2 turtles, the guide put his hand in front of me and told me to stop using my flash
2 Being told on the boat, just before we got in, (on Elphinstone) we were asked not to use our flashes on the oceanic white tip
3 I put my name down twice for abu dabab to see the dugong and I was not on the list when it came up, guessing they were trying to stop photographers with big flashes and wide angle lenses to "scare" the dugong off

Any other similar experiences, either here or anywhere else in the world it would be good to get a list together (I also hear Malapascua dont let you with "their " Thresher shark)

Cheers
Woody
Cheers
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#2 Timmoranuk

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 04:05 PM

Interesting. I'm staying at the Marina Lodge before heading off on a southern safari so I expect CJ and will experience similar when we dive with Emperor on that brief occasion.

I recall there were similar caveats regarding pigmy seahorses and flash photography. Research later suggested that their behaviour was not adversely effected by exposure to flash photography. Of course, it may not be fair to compare pygmy seahorses with Longimanus and Ding Dongs but, if bothered, higher order animals like these will just turn their backs, swim off and clearly let you know that they don't enjoy the flashes.

I think its a personal call. One can't be prescriptive but it becomes pretty obvious when enough is enough.

Thanks for the heads up on this one. We'll sort out dive profiles which will keep us away from the pack...
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#3 Paul Kay

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 02:15 AM

Well I photographed the Dugong at Abu Dabab using fisheye and flash and the creature totally and utterly ignored me - in shallow water and high sunlight there are constant flickers from the surface and whilst they are not as powerful as strobes I doubt that any creature which found bright flickering light to be not to their liking would be in such locations. Unfortunately there are many pseudo rules being inflicted on us which have little or no actual relationship with reality and it sounds like this is yet another example. I'd strongly suggest a letter to the dive operator asking about such 'rules' before you book/travel (looks like I'll adopt this tactic) asking precisely what rules exist and just as importantly why (fair enough if there is evidence better than hearsay). In the UK (and probably many other places) we have consumer laws which mean that being told that you will be able to do something and then finding that you can't would be regarded as misrepresentation and a small claims court claim might well end up in a refund!
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#4 stewsmith

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 04:05 AM

I recall there were similar caveats regarding pigmy seahorses and flash photography. Research later suggested that their behaviour was not adversely effected by exposure to flash photography.


Interesting, where did you see the results for this research. A friend of mine used to be one of if not the biggest breeder of sea horses in the UK and he does not agree with this. I would be greatful if you could point me in the right place to find the research results so I could foward it on to him.

many thanks, Stew

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#5 John Bantin

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 06:04 AM

Two recent examples:
http://www.divernet...._dont_care.html
http://www.divernet....eacon_rock.html

They are not affected by the flash as their reactions are quicker than ours. They merely see a gentle pulse of light. Ignorance is man's greatest passion. I was in the Caribbean with another wetpixeller last week when we fell foul of a silly dive guide trying to enforce sillier rules. I put them right in no uncertain terms, which impressed some others on the boat!

Edited by John Bantin, 28 June 2009 - 06:05 AM.

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#6 Timmoranuk

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 09:34 AM

Hello Stew. My aged and enfeebled brain can't recall where that Pygmy Seahorse research is but something tells me it may be buried here in WP...

I don't think the 'research' was a proper study, but having identified individuals, their mates and their territory it was found their behabiour remained consistent whether they were exposed to cavalcades of flash gun toting divers, or not...
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#7 bvanant

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:45 AM

Interesting, where did you see the results for this research. A friend of mine used to be one of if not the biggest breeder of sea horses in the UK and he does not agree with this. I would be greatful if you could point me in the right place to find the research results so I could foward it on to him.

many thanks, Stew

There is a thread from a while ago and one guy doing a PhD thesis on seahorses suggested that there was no observable damage. BUT I am reminded on a daily basis that the plural of anecdote is not data. Similarly, there are observations by divers that multiple flashes have led to some pygmys falling off their perch. In the open scientific literature there are discussions about the spectral sensitivity of the seahorse eye and the photosensitivity of the pineal gland. It appears that in some of the seahorses at least there is minimal effect on the pineal gland but I haven't found any real data on the effect of bright flash on the eye of the seahorse.


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#8 sooke

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:52 PM

There is a thread from a while ago and one guy doing a PhD thesis on seahorses suggested that there was no observable damage. BUT I am reminded on a daily basis that the plural of anecdote is not data. Similarly, there are observations by divers that multiple flashes have led to some pygmys falling off their perch. In the open scientific literature there are discussions about the spectral sensitivity of the seahorse eye and the photosensitivity of the pineal gland. It appears that in some of the seahorses at least there is minimal effect on the pineal gland but I haven't found any real data on the effect of bright flash on the eye of the seahorse.


Bill

While diving on Troy's Reef in the Kwajalein atoll, Marshall Islands, a local diver insisted photographers not turn on their strobes. Her comments were the high pitched whine of the strobe capacitors winding up irritated the large schools of grey sharks.....and could provoke an attack. I went back there many times with other divers that did not know this "local rule" took many stobe photos and did not notice any reactions by the sharks....... I could be wrong..but most of the animals on this great planet were here millions of years before we showed up and have adapted to many radical changes in the environment.

#9 tdpriest

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:23 AM

Like many (over?)-enthusiastic photographers I have repeatedly strobed a pygmy seahorse: it let go of its perch, and went to hide on the other side of the gorgonian. Since this is a universal experience, I'm surprised at the blase acceptance of the comment that strobes don't upset pygmies...

Tim

:)


If all the anecdotes are the same, then that is data!


#10 John Bantin

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 04:36 AM

Like many (over?)-enthusiastic photographers I have repeatedly strobed a pygmy seahorse: it let go of its perch, and went to hide on the other side of the gorgonian. Since this is a universal experience, I'm surprised at the blase acceptance of the comment that strobes don't upset pygmies...

Tim

:)


If all the anecdotes are the same, then that is data!


In my experience, all seahorses tend to turn their backs to perceived danger whether it has a flash/strobe or not.

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#11 Timmoranuk

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:21 AM

What concerns me (bringing us back to Woody's opening post) is the dive guide's role in this...

We've all experienced at some time or other, the guide who insists the photographer keeps up with the group on their breakneck tour around the reef. But imposing an arbitary ban on the use of strobes leaves me somewhat concerned. Guides with this mentality should perhaps consider retraining as traffic wardens and are likely to be on the receiving end of some rather unconventional underwater hand signals...

Luckily I'm only killing time at Emperor before joining a very photography friendly liveaboard.
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#12 Scubysnaps

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:40 AM

On a normal guided boat it only usually refers to the minority as most people on a normal dive boat dont tend to have a flash also, so theres hardly many people there at the time to fight their request
And we're not talking tiny fragile seahorses who probably dwell in one spot all their lives, that maybe I could understand., but huge turtles, and sharks and stuff!!
Cheers
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#13 allen

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 07:43 AM

When I find the guides to be more than what I need I have found that a little chat with the dive op owner goes a long ways. Not yet had a guide complain about my photography but in other instances when they have been insistent that the dive end after 45 minutes I politely tell them the dive ends when we are done whether it be 30 minutes or 60 minutes. If a drift dive then I expect the dive op to have similar divers group together. I realize the later is not always possible but then they should put two guides in the water.

#14 bvanant

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 07:50 AM

Like many (over?)-enthusiastic photographers I have repeatedly strobed a pygmy seahorse: it let go of its perch, and went to hide on the other side of the gorgonian. Since this is a universal experience, I'm surprised at the blase acceptance of the comment that strobes don't upset pygmies...

Tim

:)


If all the anecdotes are the same, then that is data!

If all the anecdotes are the same, then it is a controlled experiment. Then it is data. The problem is that all the anecdotes are never the same. And you need to measure the variability of the response.
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#15 wizbowes

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 12:27 PM

When I find the guides to be more than what I need I have found that a little chat with the dive op owner goes a long ways. Not yet had a guide complain about my photography but in other instances when they have been insistent that the dive end after 45 minutes I politely tell them the dive ends when we are done whether it be 30 minutes or 60 minutes. If a drift dive then I expect the dive op to have similar divers group together. I realize the later is not always possible but then they should put two guides in the water.


Lol. I guessed your nationality (or at least your location) from this post. Trouble is that dive operators have to turn a profit and staff have lives. They have to run to a schedule and have to cater for many different abilities. Putting 2 guides in the water costs ..... twice as much as putting one guide in the water. Allowing divers dictate when their dive ends is great unless you happen to be the dive guide. Missing out on kissing your kids good-night because somebody wouldn't get out of the water is not a crowd pleaser - trust me.

At the end of the day the dive shop should be upfront about what is allowed and what isn't and how long each dive will be. Ask when you sign up and either accept the rules or don't dive with that company. I was going to say that I'm generalising here - but actually I'm not - it was always/only the Americans who agreed to go out for a 45 minute afternoon and then f****d off for an hour making me work late.

Sorry I've digressed - but you've touched a nerve that still appears to sore three years later!

#16 Timmoranuk

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:24 PM

Your points are well made Wizbowes however, and with respect, I'm not sure that being in the holiday leisure industry is a 9-5 job. That said, I believe a dive guides job is, chiefly, to tend to the lower experience divers which photographers, generally, are not.

While we are on the subject of nationalities and noting that you have some (very nice) photos taken in the UK in your flickr, you'll surely know that UK divers (those that actually dive in the UK) are probably some of the most well rounded and independent of any.

As one of these and with more than 20 years experience, 'n' number of thousands of dives and a rack of multi agency rec and tech certs I don't apologise for sometimes taking umbrage with a blue water dive guide who has only just learned to wipe his own arse giving me the sort of crap that shouldn't be spouted to even an OW...

Having said all that I apologise to you as my comments are a generalisation and are not intended to infer disrespect to good dive guides, of which there are many.

Edited by Timmoranuk, 29 June 2009 - 01:29 PM.

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#17 wizbowes

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 02:09 PM

Having said all that I apologise to you as my comments are a generalisation and are not intended to infer disrespect to good dive guides, of which there are many.


No apologies required. You've said nothing that I don't agree with.

I agree that it's not a 9-5. I was working 7-6, 6 days a week except for when we had a night dive and worked 7-10. That's why working late hurt so much! The flip side of this though is that you get high turnover in staff and people only stick at it a few years. Being new to the job is a nightmare. You're fully aware (or at least I was) that many people on the boat are better divers than you, know more and have much more experience than you. You also learn many things by watching and listening to other guides and so it's inevitable that you start talking crap at one point or another. I've said some right old rubbish in my time with the utter conviction that I'm right. (Thankfully nothing remotely dangerous that I can recall).

Get back to the subject- if somebody had asked me, I would have said that flashes do seem to disturb seahorses based my own experience of photographing them (although I take John's point - I've never actually hung around a sea horse for ten straight minutes without sticking a camera in their face so maybe that is how they behave). I would have felt justified though asking people not to take too many pictures before moving on. It seems that there's no real proof or consensus either way round and as somebody who cared about the environment I worked in I'd feel it was acceptable to make that request.

#18 Deep6

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 02:25 PM

At the end of the day the dive shop should be upfront about what is allowed and what isn't and how long each dive will be. Ask when you sign up and either accept the rules or don't dive with that company. I was going to say that I'm generalising here - but actually I'm not - it was always/only the Americans who agreed to go out for a 45 minute afternoon and then f****d off for an hour making me work late.


You are quite right about an operation should be up front about what is expected and likewise a diver should be up front with his or hers expirations. I have been diving for 34 years through the Caribbean and Asia. I try to be respectful of an operation’s concerns, the reef and its inhabitants, and my fellow divers.



That said Tim is quite right about you chosen field is not slinging hash and punching a time clock. I spend plenty of time and money to do the u/w obsession and I give generous consideration for good service. Read that as you tip matie. The only reason I would do a 45 min. dive is for no deco or equipment malfunction.



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#19 tdpriest

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 01:11 AM

I felt guilty about my seahorse...
... and let one of the best, most experienced, guides that I've ever known lead me away.

My point is that photography, possibly any intrusion, alters the behaviour of some species and we should be very careful in our approach to such species. And, although the sharks don't suffer, the possibility that cycling strobes attract some sharks should make us careful when sharing the sea with other divers who may not be prepared for the experence.

In a mixed group we need to rein in our enthusiasm: the delight of my trip on the Belize Aggressor was that no-one really minded me going off to do my own thing, stay down longer, and hang around taking pictures. If it's clear that you are diving in a group, then I would say that you have to cut your cloth accordingly, and respect the needs of the group, and its guide. Obviously, that needs to be sorted out when you join the group, but if your selfish diving practices spoil the dive for a less experienced diver, or even put them at risk, then what does that say about your own attitude to the sport, and to the diving community?

Or...
... I'm not single-minded enough to shoot really good images!!?*!##?

Tim

:)

#20 pakman

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 02:26 AM

Any other similar experiences, either here or anywhere else in the world it would be good to get a list together (I also hear Malapascua dont let you with "their " Thresher shark)


Woody, try to watch the Malapascua episode of Monty Hall's Great Ocean Adventures and see what Monty's personal guide and resident Filipino photo-pro Gutsy Tuason is doing - strobes a popping while snapping away at Threshers... But then for us mere mortals, all the dive shops in Malapascua will forbid flash :)

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