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Cenotes and Whale Sharks 2010, Mexico, trip thread


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#1 echeng

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:01 PM

Hello everyone! I'm sitting outside of Dive Aventuras near Playa del Carmen, Mexico, sucking up free WiFi access like a radio parasite. Sterling Zumbrunn, Wolcott Henry, Alexis Tabah and Nathalie Ssi-Yan-Kai have arrived as well (Sterling is sitting here on the internets as well). We did our first cenotes dives today (Chac-Mool and Kulkulkan) through Dive Aventuras (hosted by Wetpixel member Karen Doody, although she was unable to accompany us on the dive today).

I wish I had photos to share, but I was shooting video. In fact, today was my first day with my underwater 3D video setup! I am excited to present my first processed clip:

[vimeohd]13694996[/vimeohd]
Use red-cyan glasses for this 3D video (and view full screen for best results)

More details about the clip and workflow can be found on a journal post on my website.

We head to Isla Mujeres on Friday for some whale shark aggregation action. Shawn Heinrichs is there right now with his group, and Jim Abernethy and his group just left.

I'm going to direct the other folks on this trip here. Hopefully, there will be others posting as well. :)
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#2 TheRealDrew

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 04:49 AM

I wish I had photos to share, but I was shooting video. In fact, today was my first day with my underwater 3D video setup! I am excited to present my first processed clip:


I need to get a pair of those glasses, but the footage looks good. Whale Sharks, Cenotes - I am officially jealous :)

#3 diver dave1

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 05:52 AM

I hope the little turtles at those Cenotes are cooperative for you. They would be quite cute on video. Their shell growth makes them look like moving bushes with legs and head.
And I am indeed jealous of the lovely view you were having outside the dive shop and the views you are having/will have on the trip.

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#4 resappraiser

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:38 AM

I hope the little turtles at those Cenotes are cooperative for you. They would be quite cute on video. Their shell growth makes them look like moving bushes with legs and head.
And I am indeed jealous of the lovely view you were having outside the dive shop and the views you are having/will have on the trip.

Hey Eric,

I was there this past April. The guides forgot to tell us about the helocline. As I approached it, I thought my masked had fogged up. Took my mask off to clear it the "fog" and by the time I got my mask back on and cleared I was in the helocline and everything was a total blurr. I though to myself, "what the hell did I do to my mask?", and then realized what it was that I was in. Had a few words with the guides when we surfaced, everyone got a chuckle out of it and I still smile when I tell that story.

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#5 Alexis

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 04:20 PM

Here's a few pictures from the cenotes
words might come later

Attached Images

  • 20100727_074248_TAB3077.jpg
  • 20100727_053749_TAB2801.jpg
  • 20100727_080331_TAB3147.jpg

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#6 Alexis

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 04:22 PM

More pictures
still no words ...

Attached Images

  • 20100728_084947_TAB3512.jpg
  • 20100728_090526_TAB3585.jpg

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#7 NCmermaid

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 04:38 PM

What a treat it was to dive with Eric and the gang today! We had a great plan to penetrate into Dos Ojos cenote and then when our air got a little low, we'd hang out near one of the entrances shooting in the ambient light. But once we took a look back over our shoulders at the glorious light at the entrance, all the still photographs put on the breaks and worked that area for about 15 mins.
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The guys shooting video got as far away from our constant strobe action as fast as possible. Oh well, so much for plans! We didn't get much further before we stopped again to shoot some phenomenal formations just inside the entrance. Sometimes the cenotes are really visual overload.

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Alexis and Nathalie checking out some of the formations

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Wolcott got some great shots of the formations with natural light from the "second eye" of Dos Ojos in the background.

Tomorrow we head to Taj Mahal for some impressive light shows. All my staff at the shop are fascinated with Erics 3D rig. They've finally found a s use for those 3D glasses they got out the cereal box! :)

Edited by NCmermaid, 28 July 2010 - 05:35 PM.

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#8 TheRealDrew

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 08:41 PM

Tomorrow we head to Taj Mahal for some impressive light shows.



Can I come :)

#9 echeng

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 09:16 PM

Sure, Drew! See you at 8:30am sharp. :)
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#10 Mary Lynn

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 08:51 AM

Eric, the 3D came out great!!

(Cool work...and I know how gnarly the workflow is!)

Having a diver subject and clear water with landscape made for some good stereoscopic effect.

Keep up the great work!!

Looking forward to seeing much more~

- Mary Lynn

#11 rustyworld

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 11:54 AM

Hi to Sterling & Wolcott, just saw then in Cocos...these guys are really rocking the water these days
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#12 echeng

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 06:55 PM

Whale sharks rule. We saw over 300 of them today!

But first, here are 4 images from two dives at Kulkulkan and Chac-Mool cenotes. I only took my still camera in for 2 dives because I was focused in 3D video, but the caves were too beautiful not to get a few still shots.

Posted Image
A sign in a halocline warns divers of impending death upon further exploration of the beginning of a long cave system (Cenote Kulkulkan, Mexico)

Posted Image
Sterling Zumbrunn contemplates his future while in a shimmering halocline at Cenote Kulkulkan, Mexico.

Posted Image
Sterling Zumbrunn at Cenote Kulkulkan, Mexico

Posted Image
Cave diver at Cenote Chac-Mool, Mexico

Our group (me, Sterling Zumbrunn, Wolcot Henry, Heidi Connal, Alexis Tabah and Nathalie Ssi-Yan-Kai) had a one-day overlap with Shawn Heinrichs, Rob Stewart, Bob McNerney, and Brian, who had been here for the last trip out to the whale shark aggregation.

There is simply no good way to photograph 300 whale sharks, but I do have some topside images from the tuna tower that probably show 50 in a frame.

I shot mostly video today, but here are a few stills:

Posted Image
Two whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) feed in a bonito spawning event off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Posted Image
A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeds in a bonito spawning event off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Posted Image
A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeds in a bonito spawning event off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Posted Image
A silhouette of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeding in a bonito spawning event off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico
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#13 shawnh

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 10:43 AM

Excellent stuff Eric and really great seeing you in Isla Mujeres!

I just returned from 2 back-to-back trips in Isla Mujeres. Undoubtably the best place in the world for whale sharks. We had a minimum of 100 whale sharks each day on the water and on the big days, between 200 and 400! With numbers that high, one can only guess at the true count of sharks in the area. Here are a handful of images from the trips. Note: other than a quick levels and WB adjust, these images are otherwise unedited.

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Rob Stewart and Shawn Heinrichs filming in the tuna tower

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Arriving at the aggregation

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Whale sharks converge around boat

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Bobby McNerney jumps into the action - whale sharks everywhere!

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Rob Stewart with 5D and Shawn Heinrichs with EX1 film topside action

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Shawn filming whale shark

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Shawn with several whale sharks

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Whale shark gulping bonito eggs

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Shawn filming whale shark with EX1

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Whale shark filtering eggs on surface

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Whale shark in blue water

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Shawn filming whale shark with 3D rig

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More 3D filming

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Danielle Heinrichs tries her hand at 3D

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Danielle shooting more 3D

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Watch out!

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Nice lipstick!

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Shawn with whale shark on surface

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Parting shot

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Marshall Lally, Shawn Heinrichs, Rob Stewart, Bobby McNerney - celebrating after a great day on the water!
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#14 echeng

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 06:13 PM

Shawn and Danielle -- fantastic images!

We have had incredible luck out here so far. Today, there were in excess of 500 whale sharks out there (by Rogelio's count), and it was sunny and absolutely dead calm. The surface of the water was like a mirror.

I am way behind in processing images and video. I'm running:

5D Mark II (stills and video)
Dual Sony CX550V 3D rig
Dual GoPro

That's 6 cameras worth of downloads and processing, not to mention the time-consuming 3D workflow. It's killing me.

Here's a slow motion whale shark gulp

[vimeohd]13812747[/vimeohd]

Here's the same gulp in 3D. :) (converted to black and white because red-blue anaglyph obviously doesn't work with blue water in the picture)

[vimeohd]13812623[/vimeohd]
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#15 echeng

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 06:48 PM

A few more 3D cenotes clips (including the original halocline video). Again, requires red/cyan glasses:

[vimeohd]13813219[/vimeohd]
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#16 sterlingz

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 08:54 PM

Hey everyone!

This has been an unbelievable trip! I'm joining the team after nine days in Cocos, and I thought the diving there would be tough to top, but this trip has been even more epic! The cenotes were gorgeous (thanks for hosting us Karen, it was awesome) and the first two days with the whale sharks were simply mind-blowing. I'm pretty beat, and dealing with data management issues (shooting around 50GB per day), so I don't have too much more to say at this juncture. I'll let the pictures do the heavy lifting.

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Alex, Eric and our cave guide, Jean Loup

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Eric ready to do a cave dive.

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A cave diver in the Taj Majal Cenote

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Eric swimming with his 3D rig through the Jardin de Eden Cenote

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Whale shark aggregation from the tuna tower. This is the only way to get a true perspective of this wildlife spectacle.

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Whale sharks feeding on bonito spawn at the surface

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Watching these animals feed is an unbelievable experience.

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Eric puts his camera in for a mouth's eye view.

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Conditions are remarkably calm - flat enough to do splits.

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A "botella" happens in the afternoon when a whale shark parks upright and stays in one position for a few minutes. Incredible to watch.

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While the number of sharks is less at the edge of the school, the visibility is better due to the diminished concentration of spawn.

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Eric filming in 3D from the bow of the Lilly M.

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What a privilege to spend so much time in the water with these gorgeous animals.

#17 Stephen H.

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 09:16 PM

Sterling: those shots are incredible.

The split is remarkable. I thought it was amazing to swim with one whale shark at a time; seeing 5 in one day was great!

I can't even imagine how this was!

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#18 wagsy

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 09:33 PM

All I can say is WOW :)
Fantastic images and work.
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#19 col

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 09:52 PM

WOW! WOW! WOW!

More, more, more please :)
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#20 shawnh

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 05:39 AM

I am already missing it. Can't wait for next year!!!
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