Looking for some outside guidance here, sanity check or just general discussions.
I am (still, after years) nothing better than a 'vacation' u/w photog. Resigning myself to the fact that I probably never will be anything other, based in my frequency of trips, etc. (1 a year, lucky to get 30 dives a year max). This year's trip is planned for Hawaii, 2 weeks, 1 each Big Isle and Maui, probably a max of 6 diving days in that time. If we stack shore dives onto the typical 2-boat dive trips, talking maybe 18-20 dives this trip (and I never take a camera first diving day minimum - self-imposed rule to reacclimate myself and concentrate on form and gear verification). More realistically we may be talking only 12-16 dives.
I usually like shooting w/a reefscapes, but I understand Hawaii isn't known for great backdrops underwater. It is however pretty spectacular above water, and we'll have more topside days than dive days (and topside time on dive days). SWMBO has always been 'tolerant' of my desire for dive-dive-dive trips, but this one has been a compromise from the start...
I have setups for both wide angle (dual Inon z240s, 8-16mm lens, minidome, all the arms) and more recently macro (DS-51, custom ringflash with minimal arm needs, 105mm). I also however have a star tracker, both fisheye and medium teles that it can load-bear, and would love to do some astrophotography from Mauna Kea or Haleakala. I have 2 cameras, the A55 for the housing, the A99 which isn't housed. No question I'm bringing the A99 for topside, as well as lenses that do it justice as well as those that go with the A55 for underwater. So I've officially outgrown even my bigger-on-the-inside Gura Gear Bataflae 32L photo backpack, even if some of the arms, ports, and tripod go in the checked scuba bag.
I'm considering leaving behind my z240 strobes and most of my arm components, going rigged for either macro (DS51 only lighting, with or without ringflash) and if we do some spinner dolphin snorkeling having the 8-16mm and minidome but with natural light only. Leaving behind 2 strobes, big buoyancy arms, at least 4 clamps, and an ike to inon cable in exchange for swapping in an extra lens (180mm), topside flash, and the startracker plate.
I know underwater lighting is everything, but snorkeling with mammals I'm guessing means serious finning and medium distances, so natural light is really the only option. Not sure we'd do the manta night dive, so won't miss the strobes there. I"ve never focused on macro only before (or frankly hardly at all) but seems to me there would be fairly good opportunities w/ some of the Hawaii fauna to get my jones fed during what few dives we'll have.
Anyone think I'll hate myself leaving behind the w/a lighting for this destination? Other compromises you'd make? (I know - leave behind clothes for more camera gear and buy there ). Anyone else been in this situation and what were your criteria to cull the load?