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Member Since 14 Sep 2009
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 04:36 AM

#357294 Full Frame SLR wide angle corrector port tests

Posted by errbrr on 31 January 2015 - 06:23 PM

Thanks for the explanation of the components Alex - I studied the housing photos you posted earlier but wasn't able to spot the difference. I am very interested in something similar with my rig based on those results you are posting. I currently shoot the Canon 14mm full frame in the caves behind an 8" dome and rarely dip below f8 because the rocks go all fuzzy around the edges. Even at f8 or f9, close up rocks give an irritatingly fuzzy foreground. A bigger dome is not feasible as it may not fit through the restrictions. Your setup would solve that problem very nicely.


The 14mm lens doesn't however take a filter as the front element is not flat - would it still work? Maybe with a little duct tape on top of the blu-tac...

#348726 Best system setup for cave and wide angle photography

Posted by errbrr on 05 June 2014 - 04:05 PM

I agree with the lighting comments - spend your cash on the strobes (I use inon Z240s because they are small) and the triggers for them (Hedwig can help you out with triggerfish). One on camera and one off camera is a good start, two on and two off is even better. More than that takes a bit of practice to co-ordinate.


For the camera, go as wide angle as you can for caves. I use a dSLR and know nothing about m4/3 so can't help you out there. Good luck with your shopping!

#347220 Cave diving, rebreathers & restrictions

Posted by errbrr on 03 May 2014 - 05:02 PM

I was out in the Nullarbor caves over Easter, shooting for a client. Once we were done with work my buddy and I headed off to a different cave to get a few dives in. The video from one dive is below. It was half shot with my Canon 5DII, half with my buddy's GoPro. He's the diver in black, I'm the diver in yellow. If I'm in the shot without the camera, my buddy is getting to grips with his first go at a dSLR. He had a good crack at keeping it steady!


Olwolgin Cave is characterised by stunning rock formations and haloclines in the water, so I needed to shoot through water that hadn't been swum through yet. Most of the shots are pushing the camera forward slightly to prevent the fuzzy water from enveloping the dome port. 



Here are a couple of shots taken of the same cave system, both on the breathers and on the subsequent dive in sidemounts. You can see the stirred-up halocline water under my knees in the first shot.





#343953 Where/how do you stow the neoprene dome cover?

Posted by errbrr on 28 February 2014 - 10:28 PM

Clip it to yourself, not your camera. Mine lives on my right hip D-ring. If the cave is small and it's dragging against the roof I put it in the drysuit pocket instead. Alternatively clip to a hip D-ring and then tuck under your waist band - works well for me in the tropics with no pockets.

#343951 Darwin's Dream - Galapagos

Posted by errbrr on 28 February 2014 - 10:06 PM

The iguanas are awesome, and the orcas are incredible. Are they normal for a Galapagos trip? Also not a single bubble trail or flappy diver through your shots, very nice.

#340648 Your Favourite/Best Image of 2013

Posted by errbrr on 14 December 2013 - 09:58 PM

Great shots, one and all.


We have done 10 trips into this mostly "dry" passage cave this year, and I discovered the way out of a sump and 130m of passage in the sump beyond. I also dragged my Aquatica housed 5DII 2kms to the end and 2kms back back again on 7 of the 10 trips. This shot is my favourite - these early sumps are just 15m long and you only get one chance before it all silts out!




And this shot is from caves in Indonesia, one of the best dives I've done. Nearly 1km in I certainly wasn't expected stalactites. These decorations were awesome and topped off a brilliant dive. 2013 has been a great year of cave diving...here's to 2014!



#337563 Housing rinsing techniques

Posted by errbrr on 28 September 2013 - 05:08 AM

When I dive in freshwater, which is most of the time, I don't rinse. Although if I've managed to coat the thing in mud as well it's more of a spray rinse then soak to try and get it all off. When diving in salt water I like to dunk at the end of the day and usually work the buttons a bit too.


I don't leave my housing unattended in rinse tanks if there are other people around. And if I want to leave it in for an extended soak I usually remove the camera first, which means I'm already home and the soaking is happening in my bathtub.

#336546 Using Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe for land use?

Posted by errbrr on 02 September 2013 - 03:43 AM

I burnt out a few tubes in my inon Z240s doing this. Take it slow and consider having a bucket of water to dunk them in occasionally.

#330631 Boat Water Entry with Camera Gear Methods

Posted by errbrr on 30 April 2013 - 09:57 PM

In rough seas around here I much prefer to giant stride with my DSLR. Trying to get close enough to grab a camera from a large boat that's slamming back into the water with every wave is not safe. I wear a drysuit and stiff fins and find I can control my jump....by the time the water's up to my chin, I'm not moving very fast so my camera rig hits the water gently. No disasters as yet.

I have backward rolled too, that takes a bit more practise with an 8" dome. Most fun of all is an abseil down into water with the camera swinging under you. I love cave diving! I also take my neoprene dome cover with me on every dive.

#328081 Tripods

Posted by errbrr on 17 March 2013 - 07:21 PM

I use one for wide angle long exposures sometimes. The issue is not so much the tripod, but carrying around the extra block of lead that I attach to it to keep everything steady when I let go of the camera. A bit of string on each end and some clips make them easier to carry when not being used.

Mine is all aluminium (even the rivets and leg fastenings) and 30 years old with repeated dunkings and no rust.

#327498 Where do you get your gear?

Posted by errbrr on 08 March 2013 - 03:55 PM

My standard procedure is to go online, do my research and print out a few prices from stores I would be prepared to buy from. I then take those print outs into the local shop and see what they have to say. If they are nice (i.e. polite, cheerful) and can price match down to online price + 10% then I will buy in store. If the price is more than 10% more, or if they are rude and I get a lecture about "supporting local businesses and the evils of the internet" I leave and buy online.


I think it's fair and reasonable to give the locals a chance. If they're offering similar prices I'll cheerfully pay for local service. If the service is rubbish, or the prices are too high.....I too am a local business, and I'd rather spend the difference in pricing on supporting myself.


It's worth noting that the current price of our 5DIII body only in the major camera shops in Australia is $3,800. For my last lens purchase, the lowest the local shop could do was $1200 (RRP $1300), whereas I landed the lens for $880. The distribution model is antiquated and ridiculous. Customers can buy online for cheaper than the store can get stock from the Australian distributor, and it's going to kill off our locals.

#327145 Great Hammerhead Dive

Posted by errbrr on 04 March 2013 - 03:03 AM

I love that eyeball shot. Looks almost like a painting...picture perfect! Fantastic angle on a very weird looking creature.

#323086 How often do I need to get my housing serviced?

Posted by errbrr on 21 December 2012 - 03:07 PM

I replaced the push button o-rings on my Aquatica myself earlier this year, and the o-rings that came out were a lot flatter than the o-rings that went in. It didn't feel any different to dive with but I felt happier for having done it.

#320951 Cave exploration: back in the day

Posted by errbrr on 20 November 2012 - 02:28 AM

I come from a long line of cave diving underwater photographers...which is to say, my Dad did it too. He was heavily involved in the exploration of the caves on the Australian Nullarbor Plain in the 1980s, both as a push diver and as the trip photographer. He has a filing cabinet full of slides from his Nikonos II's and V - he's kept every single one! But they're no good to anyone sitting in a cabinet so over the course of this year we've been scanning and digitising them. I think this was especially important for the early slides from 1979 because at the start of his underwater photography Dad was cutting costs by using unbranded slides and they're starting to degrade. The move to Kodachrome means the later slides have held up better.

In the interests of getting both the pictures and the story out there, I've been posting a small selection up on my website each Thursday. So far I've been covering the Cocklebiddy Cave exploration in 1979, 1982 and 1983. Cocklebiddy is a famous cave in Australia, and at the time was famous around the world as it held the record for the longest penetration. For those who aren't familiar with the system, it has a 1km sump, a giant rockpile which you climb over to reveal another 2.7km swim, surface to an even bigger rockpile now called Toad Hall, and then there's the third sump. These were discovered over several trips, and diving technology was invented to get divers further into the cave. It's all about the sleds!

If you're interested in the photos and the whole story, check out the list of posts here:

And here's a couple of photos to give you an idea of the insanity:
1979 Cocklebiddy-17.jpg
1979, the trip that attempted to scale the first rockpile and push into the second sump, but didn't make it further than had previously been discovered. Here a diver swims next to a safety tank tied to the line in the first sump.

1982, divers manhandle a sled of tanks through the water as they swim towards unknown territory. The "sled" has a plumbing pipe down the middle of the tanks to give it structure (and a dry place to store things, like film), and a broomhandle through for steering. Buoyancy control was a real issue.

1982, Ron Allum and Hugh Morrison tie into the end of the line in the second sump after dumping the sled some time earlier. They are about to start the swim that will discover the second rockpile, Toad Hall.

1983, things get serious. 12 divers advanced to the first rockpile, and 6 divers took three sleds to Toad Hall in preparation for a push into the third sump. Dad had sled pushing responsibilities, so photos were taken at the 1km and 2km rest stop. In this shot divers rest the sleds against the roof and drink a fruit box before swimming on.

The rest of the 1983 pics will go up this Thursday and next. Enjoy!

Liz Rogers

#300452 Side mount or Doubles (Twinsets) for photography

Posted by errbrr on 26 January 2012 - 05:17 PM

I'm a regular sidemount cave diver, and my first observation would be that sidemounts off a small to medium boat are a nightmare. I usually sit in the cave entrance in the water to put mine on, and walking around in them can be impracticable depending on your harness. I wear them so I can get into small caves, but in the water they're also great for photography - I can roll over sideways and shoot up without turning turtle like I would in backmounted steel twins and drysuit. Sidemounts are great for the "too heavy on land" problem because you can carry them one at a time.

Backmounted independents create more task loading than a manifold during your average dive, as you have to switch regs regularly to decant evenly. In an emergency though, switch to the reg that works and leave. Manifolded twins are easier most of the time - no reg switching - but in an emergency you must respond immediately to save your gas. I'm not sure why people think that if they can't handle reg switching most of the time, they'll magically be able to handle valve shutdowns when it all goes wrong. Check out the graphs at the bottom of this article to see how much time you have to shut down your manifold. If you can't do it within that limit, you're on a single tank with additional failure points and a misplaced sense of complacency. Understand your life support equipment!

Steel twins are heavier underwater, and you won't need as much lead. They do slow you down swimming into current which might be a concern for you. For travel, you can carry rigging to create independent or sidemounted twins from hired single tanks without much fuss at all. For diving at home, a pony might be enough to add the redundancy you're looking for.