Posts posted by kristapsdz
Tl;dr: a short read about the Flabellina affinis nudibranch.
Here in Malta, we don't have much in terms of whales and mantas and sharks, so our cameras are often drawn to... smaller subjects. One that often catches the eye is the Flabellina affinis nudibranch, often found on Malta's wrecks.
Not long ago a buddy saw one for the first time and peppered me with questions I couldn't answer---what do they eat? How long do they live? I see the F. affinis on almost every dive and it's one of my favourite subjects: tolerates overexposure (blue, not white); tends to hang from fronds, making for beautiful backdrops; etc. But I didn't know much about it.
So I put aside my lens for some research time and put together a showcase of the Flabellina affinis to answer her questions. I thought folks here might be interested in the read---plenty of Mediterranean divers here I reckon!
One of the questions it doesn't answer is why we have so few this year---I've seen only a handful in months! Could it be related to water temperature? Alkalinity? We don't know. Has anybody else in the Mediterranean noticed fewer F. affinis this year?
Most folks here use Photoshop, Lightroom, and other commercial systems for their photo editing workflow. I thought I'd speak a bit about a purely open source workflow. It may not be as pretty, it may not be as polished, but it works for me. The tools I mention should work on most any operating system, closed or open (I use OpenBSD). This isn't a post to discuss why to use open source, but instead what kind of tools are available.
Popular tools for RAW open source editing tools these days are RawTherapee, darktable , and (far less popular) UFRaw. For JPGs, there's GIMP, digiKam, and Shotwell. darktable, digiKam, and Shotwell have powerful photo management facilities; while GIMP, RawTherapee, and UFRaw are primarily editors. In this post I'll talk about UFraw (specifically, nufraw), GIMP, and Shotwell. There are plenty of other tools---these are just those that I've used!
Let's start with getting photos from your camera. This part depends upon the camera---whether with an SD card reader, Wifi, and so on---and your system. I use the USB interface to my Nikon and download photos with gphoto, but most operating systems (or if not, then photo management tools) have facilities for doing this themselves. On OpenBSD, I have a hotplugd(8) script download images when I plug in my camera. It uses a notification to my window manager (i3) when the download is complete. This lets me get right back to work after a dive, with my photos ready for viewing and editing when I next take a break.
Once downloaded, my happy time begins with Shotwell. Not to make too much a point about it, but I consider this the "weak link" in my workflow: the tool is slow and buggy. Ideally I'd like something like macOS photos that lets me quickly cull, group, sort, tag, and filter my photos.
With sometimes hundreds of photos from a single dive, I use Shotwell to quickly cull out of focus and poorly exposed photos, grouping the rest into those I'd like to edit. Above we see a quite underexposed Cratena peregrina that looks ripe for some editing fun.
Next is the editing sequence. Shotwell has some editing tools, but I need to work with RAW images. At this point, some folks use darktable, some use RawTherapee, but I prefer pairing GIMP and UFRaw (nufraw). Shotwell lets me open nufraw with a keypress. There's a lot of benefit to working with groups of photos as allowed by darktable and RawTherapee, but I prefer editing one by one, letting each photo have its own flavour. I really like n/ufraw---the source code is simple C, so I can jump in and tune hard-coded parameters if desired.
Here, I'm able to colour correct, adjust exposure levels, saturation, and so on. Above, I've bumped the exposure and saturation, as the original photo is fully stopped down, and also boosted the highlights a bit and raised the black point. I'll often use nufraw to configure each layer of an image, then I send the image to GIMP by using the button in the lower right corner. Once pressed, GIMP picks up the image and I can fit it into my working image.
Here I have two layers: the first is the brightly-exposed photo on top then below is a much darker photo to fade out the vegetation around the subject. In this screenshot, I'm manually bringing in the lower layer with the "erase" tool. Most often, however, I use GIMP just to sharpen the photo and remove sediment and back-scatter. I also really like GIMP: not only is it a workhorse of a tool, I can also interface with a fairly straightforward plugin mechanism in C. I've written a few small plugins that let me despeckle regions by detecting closed regions of contrasting colours and blending with the surrounding colours. A fairly simple matter, but makes removing back-scatter from backgrounds much easier!
Not a bad result---a bit gimmicky, as I've dropped the background a bit too much, but sometimes it's fun to play with our images. If this C. peregrina were to have a voice, it would be whinnying majestically. I follow up by exporting the editing results into a new photo alongside the old one, which is picked up again by Shotwell. I then break apart the originals and the edited files.
I'm happy with ufraw and GIMP, but recently have considered whether using RawTherapee might be more efficient than sending from ufraw to GIMP. As for Shotwell, the question is not if it should be replacement, but simply by what!
Do you have any tips, tricks, or experience with open source workflow that you think I might use?
On 10/31/2020 at 11:38 AM, Davide DB said:
Did you have all the controls on the GH5?
Gh5 battery doesn't have a long operating time. What's happen with wi-fi activated?
Thank you in advance
Davide, Fabio (the owner) wrote to me in response to this and said the "Gh5 works by USB not wifi, no problem with the batteries".
Late to this party, but I wrote about it here: https://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?/topic/66750-easydive-leo-3-wi/
I've used flip mounts, the AOI bayonet system, and regular screwing. I second the flip getting in the way---I'm usually pulling strobes in close for macro right where they would go.
As for the bayonet system, I enjoy it for the speed of switching. I mounted two bayonet receivers on my focus light arm off the cold-shoe mount that allowed me to swap wet wide-angle with diopter. No problems except that switching lenses usually makes the housing's trim change.
Where the bayonet really won for me is entering the water and quickly flushing bubbles out between lens and face. I lost too many shots needing to unscrew, wave away bubbles, and rescrew. And one time lost a lens---I started to cheat by only lighting screwing the wet lens before entering, as I'd need to take it off anyway. Til I screwed a little... too lightly.
I rarely see any information on Easydive housings, so I thought I'd write about the one I just bought. (I'm not affiliated with Easydive.)
I currently use a Nimar housing for my Nikon D5300, with a wet lens (UWL-09) for wide-angle. I'd been frustrated with the soft corners of my wide-angle photos and was looking for a wide-angle dry dome. However, the Nimar has functioned... poorly... so I didn't want to further invest into that system. Plus, I plan on using it for deeper dives (60+ metres) which means a new system anyway.
My decision to buy an Easydive instead of, say, Nauticam, was that the housing allows you to change cameras without changing the housing. I'm planning a set of camera upgrades over the next few years and wanted to use the same housing instead of dropping 2k+ EUR housing-tax for each new camera. Since the cost of the Easydive was on par with any housing for a future camera (if not less!), I figured I could always change again if it didn't work out, eating the cost of any ports in the meanwhile.
I started with the Leo 3 Wi, as I plan on moving from DSLR Nikon cropped-sensor to mirrorless Sony full-frame, and this housing handles all of them. I started with the 240 mm dome and extension ring for my 10--20 mm lens, and also included the vacuum system, flash trigger, and mounting balls as necessaries.
Here's a size comparison between the Nimar and new Easydive. The housings themselves are about the same size, although the Easydive is much heavier being made of aluminium instead of plastic and anxiety. In the Nimar, the camera is connected to a plastic plate that inserts into the bottom. In the Easydive, the camera is connected to the baseplate seen in the following. Here's how the inside looks with the baseplate removed and battery disconnected (but standing alongside its slot).
When assembled, the camera goes on the baseplate, which inserts into the bottom of the housing. The battery is placed against some velcro on the right and plugs below. The camera connects to the housing computer by the two cables, with the third being the flash trigger. (I think it can handle the internal flash, but haven't tried.)
The buttons on the right side are used to interact with the camera. For my D5300, this includes the important aperture, ISO, shutter, and AF modes. Other models (like the Sony) have more functionality. The shutter release is another button on the front. All are easily operable with 5 mm wet gloves and dry gloves.
Let's start with cons. The housing's internal battery connects with velcro---it's hard to tell whether it's securely applied or not. Specifically for the D5300, the magnifier for the viewfinder as-is doesn't fit within the housing, though it might after some tweaking. There's no self-test for the moisture detector---I have no idea what it looks (or sounds) like when there's a leak.
The 240 mm dome doesn't lock into place, so I dive in fear of accidentally rotating the dome. That's not new, though, as I usually live in fear of jostling and scratching my domes. I'm pretty well-adjusted otherwise I guess? Apparently the 240 mm is special in that it doesn't lock---other ports and domes do.
The universal zoom ring (which slots into the zoom wheel seen in the above photo) uses a velcro system to tighten over a lens. This is fine I guess, but I'd have added more grip to the internal part of the ring so it doesn't slip if over- or under-zoomed. Some double-sided tape did the trick for me.
Everything works without any issue---I'm very happy with it! I'm not fond of face-plate clasps in general (I like the Nauticam wheel lock), but the Leo 3's are very sturdy. Buttons and wheels work flawlessly even at depth. Best yet, the company operator, Fabio, has taken time to help me directly with questions, and responds immediately to questions.
Diving with the Leo 3 Wi
...is more or less like with any housing. As it comes, the Leo comes with a metal tab on the left side, which I use to clip off. (After the first dive I realised that I should get a left-hand handle as well because I'm so used to holding two handles.) The 240 mm dome is hugely buoyant, even with an ankle weight wrapped around the extension ring. I'll need to tape weights directly to it for trim. Beside trim, it takes only a few styrofoam blocks to have the housing be neutral.
(Photo courtesy of Jasper Mulder.) Matching my hose colour and the housing's trimmings was unintentional. Or was it!?
If anybody has any questions I can answer as a user, I'll do my best to answer.
3 hours ago, ajay said:
Great discussion (I am enjoying Wetpixel live videos a lot, thanks @adamhanlon). @Alex_Mustard many (most?) images on your website with the 'night' tag show "No flash" in the info.. that cannot be correct?!
I can't speak for Alex, but on my Nikon, the EXIF "flash" record only appears for the internal flash. For my strobe triggers, above or below water, it doesn't record any information.
A fellow Malta UW photographer! It's said that folks come for the good weather, but they stay for the sea slugs. The area Gregory mentions (Ċirkewwa) is just beautiful and one of my favourite... faffing around the sands by both wrecks is bliss. Here are some more shots to supplement those above, taken over a few night dives in the last week in the Ċirkewwa reef area.
A Cratena peregrina from the Rozi wreck, a stone's throw from the P29:
There's plenty of macro---bring your wet diopters and 105 mm lenses. A tiny common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) right alongside the P29:
Those seen yesterday would fit easily in one's palm. I guess these are the juveniles from this year's spawning season around May? And of course the amazing common octopus always out and about on the nearby Ċirkewwa reef:
Totally posing. Octopuses... On to another nudibranch---the Flabellina affinis, also on the Rozi. These are usually more common, but seem to be been few and far between these days. This one is chowing down on some Eudendrium racemosum (I think?).
I could go on and on... and that's not even to mention the wrecks themselves. The waters are still warm enough for wetsuit diving, come down!
Ok, one more smiling local face hiding out under the P29 or Rozi (I forget):
I use a pair of YS-01 strobes now on a Nikon (w/flash trigger) and previously on the same Sony (via nauticam). With the Sony, I would use the TTL setting on the strobes, though to my recollection the strobes never actually fired in TTL mode (red light, not green) but full-dumped except as adjusted on the strobe output dial.
I always had flash compensation at zero.
It's worth noting that in the three YS-01 strobes I've owned, they've all had... peculiarities. One didn't propogate signal to a secondary. Another doesn't fire beneath 3/4 power (the dial is broken?). Yet another won't turn on unless I "bump" it after inserting batteries. And they're all *very* sensitive to the cable used for LED triggers.
Long shot. Do you have an Easydive Leo 3 Wi that's just sitting around gathering dust? Do you struggle with guilt whenever you look at it? Do you hear its dry heart beating, slower and slower, in the closet you've put it in so as not to be faced with its pleading look of neglect?
I'm here to help.
Looking for a Leo 3 Wi to replace a housing that's seen better days. Will be well loved and constantly used. Must be shippable within the EU (to Malta).
11 minutes ago, DavidPaco said:
Thanks for that article. I indeed think the loosening of a clasp while the camera was in the bottom of a bucket, shaken by waves, is a quite plausible explanation to the flooding of my 6D. Given how hard it is to re-sell that equipment I will probably re-dive with it, but this time with an insurance !
The bungee trick has worked for me for the last few dozen dives since it flooded. (Wrapping it around where the clasps connect to the faceplate.) But I'm just waiting til a good deal on another housing comes up. Good luck!
I've been using the Nimar D5300 housing and dislike it to the extent of writing a Camera Housing Donts article about how many things are wrong with it.
tl;dr: I need to bungee the clasps to the housing because they lift off below 20 metres cause the housing warps under pressure. I'd as soon dive its rated depth as put my camera in a plastic coke bottle. Also, none of the push buttons operate below 30 metres. Caveat emptor!
Hi folks! I'm a technical and free diver currently living in Malta. I dive a few times a week---always with a camera, to an extent where I wouldn't even know what to do with myself otherwise. I publish most photos at Not Awful Underwater Photos.
I'm here primarily for classifieds. I've long been using a crop-sensor DSLR and wet lenses. Lately I've felt the wide-angle wet lens is holding me back despite a love affair with switching from macro to wide-angle on demand. So I'm on the market for a more stable relationship---a Nikon full frame set: housing (Nauticam/Easydive), dome and flat ports, and camera with lenses fitting into the ports. The lighting, arms, and all the other stuff I have, but if it were on the table as a package I'd consider it. I'd also give a Sony kit of the same style consideration due to having great experiences with the RX100 class a few cameras ago.
Easydive Leo 3 Wi
in Photography Gear and Technique
I haven't noticed any lag with a nikon dslr, no, though I haven't taken it down for macro shooting where I'd notice it the most.
The button interface is... different? For example, I'm used to twisting a wheel for modifying f-number or shutter speed, and now I need to push a button, one for each position. I guess this doesn't affect me much because mostly I'm tuning or changing multiple values (enter/leave wreck, change ISO, shutter, aperture) in which case it's much faster. But changing from a 30 second long exposure to 1/200 probably takes a lot of button pushes, whereas before it'd just be a few spins.
What required the most change was the half-press of the shutter release to grab focus. This now is a different button from the shutter release itself.