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Drew

Member Since 02 Feb 2004
Offline Last Active Oct 29 2014 12:36 AM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Canon 16-35 f4 L

26 October 2014 - 08:53 AM

I agree with Tom and Eun Jae.  The 16-35IS is the better optical lens overall.  


In Topic: Favorite dive-sites in New South Wales?

24 October 2014 - 08:57 AM

South West Rock's Fish Rock Cave for the sharks, Jervis Bay's  seal dives and If you can delay till late Feb/Mar, the PJ sharks aggregate to breed,  Byron Bay's Julian Rocks is usually good but other sites are so so.  These are the highlights and faves to many.
If you need to be local to Syd, I've always liked  Ship Rock and Palm Beach.


In Topic: Loloata Island, PNG or Great Barrier Reef? Which option to choose?

23 October 2014 - 02:31 PM

Loloata is ok, but as an alternative, you can also dive from Port Moresby's Bootless Bay via the Dive Centre.  John runs a nice operation with great freedom for photographers.  He knows a plane wreck which is great for wide angle (visibility permitted).  I have fond memories of Horseshoe Reef and Suzies Bommie as dive sites.  Make sure you have a safety sausage or even rent John's  dive reel/buoy if you go to the bommies on your own, it's a long way back if the boat loses you to the currents! :)

Depending on where you are going with your holiday, there's also Madang, Tufi, Kavieng, Rabaul among other towns with diving and resorts as well.  You don't say so it's hard to give you the right info.

 


In Topic: Canon 5d MKII or Canon 6D for best low light performance

08 October 2014 - 02:40 AM

The 6D easily outperforms the 5D2 in most everything you need as a camera.  The difference in noise is more pronounced in the higher ISO from 3200 onwards.  We are talking about a stop difference from 3200-25600.
 


In Topic: Bali Trip Recommendations

29 September 2014 - 06:47 AM

Ah the recurring Bali chat! :)
 

As Tim warns, there are life cycles in every site and the creatures aren't static, they are subject to storms and currents which can change things quickly.  I remember Tim and Alex had a roving rhino issue a few years back! :D  So what was reportedly there one week may not be there the next.

Dustin, specifically for your group, with the varied mix of people, I suggest you stay on the main island of Bali and boat to the various island. I'll copy/paste my recommendations for a friend who had a similar group to yours. Bold is additions made for you:

 

Lembongan/Penida resorts are great escapes and certainly cut short the boat rides to the best sites, but for non-divers who want that tour/special spa/shopping etc, it's pretty much a drag. Additionally, you can enjoy the wonderful restaurants like Three Monkeys, Sarong etc every night.  I usually recommend doing a 3 dive Mola/Manta day trip while staying in Sanur for diving the Penida/Lembongan islands.  There are some sites that AREN'T for noobs, with fierce current and difficult conditions. Remember, a few divers are lost annually because of the through flow. Respect the currents and limitations. 

As for not to miss sites, I think everyone has covered them.  
My personal trinity of Bali noob dive introduction, with your preferences of macro and night dives in mind, are Tulamben, Gilimanuk(Secret Bay) and Seririt(Puri Jati).  Tulamben is a no-brainer, with some of the best muck diving in the Seraya and of course the Liberty wreck area.  Secret Bay has the special mix of fresh (cold) water with natural and artificial reef areas that can be very special (my favorite dive there was 7 species of frogfish in one dusk to night dive!).  Puri Jati is most famous for T. Mimicus, but it actually has quite a few other things like frogfish and pipefish.  My favorite squid dives and shots came from there.  However, the bottom trawling fishermen are still a problem.  

The most important thing to consider is HOW to do a trip like yours.  I personally only dive with BIDP around Bali.  They have great experience with cameras and are shooters themselves.   We even go on site hunts all around Bali to find that next hot site!  I've used them for 13 years and heartily recommend them.  I suggest 5 days in Tulamben, 3 days in northern coast based in Seririt and 3 days in Sanur/Penida.
Normally once you choose an ops, they will assign a van and DM/guide to you for the duration.  For the north portion:  
I personally don't like Pemuteran as a base for the northern coast, especially with non-divers.  Staying in Seririt, the non-divers can do excursions to Lovina (20 mins from Seririt by car) for the dolphin viewing trip, up the mountains for the waterfalls and also the many scenic padi fields. At Seririt itself, there is always the spectacle of the  duck farmer walking his ducks on the beach!  It's easy to dive 6 dives a day at Puri Jati when you stay so close, including a dusk to night and then a night.
You can then take the 1+ hour drive to Secret Bay and spend the day there.  Don't forget to try the ayam betutu at the bus station... just be aware if you're not into spicy food!  Secret Bay has a nice variety of artificial and natural formations.  I suggest you bring along a WA/fisheye if the tides are right and hit that little wreck with a late afternoon sun and the schools of fish.  Stop in Pemuteran for late dinner either at Matahari or Amertha (call ahead to make sure the kitchen is open).
Tulamben:

With new resorts popping up, the choices around Tulamben do fit most budgets.  I personally consider Scuba Seraya my home for Tulamben.  Markisa is also quite nice and if you are so inclined, on the same property as Markisa is a private bungalow with 4 bedrooms for rent, while sharing the facilities like the pool and restaurant (there is a kitchen there).  Seraya Secrets is easily done from the shore and worth multiple dives day and night.   I personally will only do with a big rig is dive any site on the main Tulamben beach (where the Liberty Wreck is) on a boat.  The Tulamben beach shoreline is lined with smooth rocks, some pretty large, which makes it difficult for ingress and egress for shore diving with a big rig and gear, especially when the waves get a little choppy.   Moreover, with a boat diving the wreck etc, you can finish where you want and just surface, instead of having to swim back to a particular point on the beach.
Doing a night dive on the wreck is great fun, especially when there is a current. I've caught pelagic octopus and leptocephalus doing my safety stop drifting in the current after the night Liberty dives.  Having the boat is invaluable asset for that.  It is of course, less environmentally friendly and slight more expensive.  Definitely worth it though.  Talk to the dive masters at Seraya as they are the ones with the most frequent dives in the area and have hosted many top photogs so they are knowledgeable. Tulamben food isn't the greatest but the local eateries like Wayan and Lesehan Segara are nice breaks from the resort food monotony. 
For the non-divers from Tulamben, they can do the Agung climb (several hours from the Besakih temple) which can be taxing for the unfit/well.  There is a waterfall and a few temples are within 60 minutes by car.  Just hire a daily driver for them.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!