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frogfish

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Posts posted by frogfish


  1. Consoles were one of the industry's worst ideas ever, in my opinion. I want to be able to see depth and deco information frequently and easily, w/o having to bring up a console. There's no good low drag way to rig a console with a DIR or semi/quasi-DIR gear configuation. I also see a LOT of divers (including some very experienced ones) using consoles that are hanging loose and sometimes dragging on the reef.

     

    I wear two computers on left wrist, a DiveRite Duo and Nitex. The guts of these two computers (algorithm and implementation) seem identical. The bigger Duo is much easier to read (and the battery can be changed by the user). The wristwatch-sized Nitex functions is a back-up and works as a watch and alarm clock between dives, but it has to go back to DiveRite for new battery. Air hose gauge (only) is clipped to d-ring on waist, left side (but sometimes moved to left chest d-ring if I need to watch air level more closely. Compass (and sometimes slate) are worn on right wrist.

     

    I agree with UWPhotoNewbie about the advantages of simple hosed air gauges, but please be careful using the Uwatech smart computers! With the so-called smart "bubble" feature disengaged, they work ok, like a (very expensive) Nitrox Pro. If the so-called "smart bubbles" feature is turned on, however, It's possible for the computer to display its "advice" to do a 1-3 minute non-mandatory stop at 3 m at any time during the dive.

     

    Since that advisory mention displaces the No-decompression stop minute display, once it appears you will have no idea how minutes you have left before going into "real" deco and incurring a mandatory decompression obligation. Not nice, and not very smart.

     

    If it weren't for Scubapro's advertising clout, I suspect that these would have been outed in the diving trade press and put out of production years ago. If anyone wants or needs more information (and documentation) about this problem with the Uwatec "smart" computers, email me.

     

    Frogfish


  2. I use the Halcyon 2M marker bouy myself.  It has a Coast Guard approved SOLAS reflective tape across the top.

     

    I also carry the OMS Dye Marker (Item # SD - DYE).  The Dye marker seemed to take on H2o after 100 dives or so so I just replaced it.  Also, a powered air horn is a necessity.

     

    The Halcyon SMBs are large and very well made. However, I don't like having to disconnect the BC inflator hose in order to deploy the SMB at depth with a spool or reel. This design might be better suited to dry suit diving.

     

    I've had the same problem with the OMS dye marker. Also, the plastic tube is not very convenient to store or secure in a BC/harness pocket.

     

    There are two basic types of dye markers. In one the OMS product is an example), the dye spreads rapidly to forms a large, highly visible layer on the surface of the water. It disperses rapidly - the rate depends on conditions - so should only be used when a search aircraft is approaching or in sight.

     

    The other kind of marker dispenses the dye slowly from a cloth bag over a period of several hours. The dye does not just float on the surface of the water, and is very persistent. As you move relative to the water as a result of surface wind or breezes (or swimming), the dye will leave a colored track in the water that can be seen by search planes or boats. How long this "track" remains visible also depends on conditions, but it is very persistent. You do not need to wait for a search plane to be in sight before deploying this type of dye pack.

     

    It's usually best to look for products like this at marine supply stores or ship chandleries than in dive shops.

     

    Last but not least, photographers using DIR-style backplate, harness and wing rigs have a ready-made central attachment point for a reef hook. The front d-ring on the crotch-strap, normally reserved for scooters and/or emergency towing, is perfect. Attaching a reef hook to a conventional jacket BC in a strong current can sometimes present roblems.

     

    Welcome, Reef Hook - it will be good to have you hanging around.

     

    Frogfish


  3. Continuing off topic, I've seen one study that said yellow signal flags (the kind that John Bantin and many BSAC-trained divers prefer) are superior to orange sausage-style SMBs. The test was conducted in UK waters and UK conditions. Unfortunately, the comparison was apparently done using a smaller-sized sausage SMB. I wouldn't be surprised if dive flags can consistently be seen from greater distances than the "toy" 1 m./3 ft. sausages on sale in many dive shops. Those may be fine for letting tender divers at crowded dive sites know where divers are about to come up, but they're not much good for anything else, and certainly not as an emergency marker intended to be visible at distance in open seas in remote locations.

     

    Large 2 or 3 meter (6.5-10 ft.) SMBs such as those manufactured by OMS and Halcyon) are a different matter, however. I personally believe that the OMS BCA 268 SMB (9.7 feet or 2.92 meters long, with 90 lbs/42 kg of lift) could probably be seen at a significantly greater distance than a dive flag under most if not all conditions. I'd also be happy to put the matter to a test.

     

    As far as being seen by searching aircraft are concerned, however, emergency dye-packs that can create a colored area in the water with a total area of several hundred square meters would clearly be superior to both SMBs or dive flags. I carry two dye packs whenever I'm diving in remote locations for just this reason.

     

    If I didn't have dye pack, however, then I think it would be easier for a search aircraft to spot a large SMB (such as the 3m OMS, lying on the surface, either straight or bent into a "V" shape) than a dive flag.

     

    The illustrations on the OMS page on SMBS and lift-bags are worth checking out:

     

    OMS Liftbags and SMBs

     

    By the way, I have nothing to do with OMS - this is an absolutely unsolicited endorsement. I just happen to think that their big BCA268 SMB is by far the best product of its kind available, and that one day it may help keep me and my friends alive.

     

    While we're off subject but on this topic, a new Code of Conduct for Divers will go into effect in Komodo National Park in Indonesia in May. Among other matters, the new rules (which I helped to draft) require all divers to carry a suitable daytime surface signal device (which may be either a sausage-style SMB (minimum length 1 meter) OR a BSAC-style dive flag), AND a night-time signalling device (such as a suitable torch or flashing emergency strobe) AND a noise signal device (whistle, dive-alert style emergency horn, etc.) on every dive conducted in the park, day or night.

     

    Dive safely, all!

     

    Frogfish


  4. ...

    The blunt end can hold on a rough surface or dig in a small hole and the wide jaw can hook round a larger rock. I find it invaluable, and have even used it to rock climb (underwater) once (like using an ice-pick) in an emergency. (Remember Marks Sharks, Robert?)

     

    Hey Robert, I just read that piece again. Do you recognise yourself in it?

     

    Yes, I do. However, though we didn't have dive flags, we both were carrying sausage-style SMBs. Yellow dive flags may be one of those Brit vs. non-Brit things. I believe both will do the job, but I'd be happy to test my 10 foot long OMS SMB against your flag in a visibility distance test anytime.

     

    I remember that trip (my first ever with a housed camera, the F801s) and I definitely remember the Marks Sharks fiasco, which still ranks as one of the scariest dives I've ever done in my life. I've stil got a (terrible) photo from that dive. Remember the GAO guy who had discovered the million dollar toilet? This is him, hanging on to the pinnacle with both hands, bubbles streaming back and down out of sight. What I was thinking, trying to take a photo in those conditions, I have no idea. A few minutes later, the four of us (Larry Smith, Sandy, the GAO guy and me) started the long hand-over-hand crawl up the pinnacle.

     

    But all this reminds me of the dive on which you invented a new use for a reef hook. As I recall, you (and two others who shall remain nameless) went back to do a 2nd dive at GPS Point , with the current ripping, to shoot the dead shark in the loose drift net. You were also testing a new BC with velcro-secured integrated weight packets (!) and lost one on the descent. But you figured out how to do your 6 and 3 meter deco stops in the rushing flow by (sacrificially) snagging your reef hook on the top of a bommy at about 12 meters. I was impressed.

     

    Coincidentally, I'm headed back to Komodo next week, a fun trip. This will be the inaugural voyage - perhaps shakedown cruise would be a more accurate description - for Jos Pet and Mark Heighes' new Phinisi schooner, The Seven Seas. A goat and some chickens met their gods yesterday; a champagne bottle was broken today, and we will have cocktails on board tonight. I think this is going to be a great boat. If the currents aren't completely insane, maybe we'll stop at GPS Point on the way and look for your lost reef hook.

     

    Frogfish

    post-1236-1143275327_thumb.jpg


  5. I carry one but use it only very rarely. Any current strong enough to require a hook or make it useful will make it difficult to deploy and later remove and restow the hook using one hand while trying to hold my camera rig and keep it safe with the other.

     

    I did use mine as a reef hook a couple of years ago, at German Flag in south Komodo. It's a flat bottom, lots of rock and dead coral, and there was almost 3 knots of current, very difficult. Several mantas hwere olding position relative to the shallow bottom, and could be approached quite closely (though with great difficulty due to the current). I tried using my hook attached to the scooter ring on my harness so that I have both hands free for the camera to get the shot, but the strobe arms just bent back on their clamps when I tried to hold the housing out in front of me in the current.

     

    There are other uses. I've used mine several times i to mark locations of interest, attaching the hook to a hole in rock, then attaching and inflating an SMB (sausage). The SMB will float about 3 meters above the hook, so it can be easily seen from a considerable distance.

     

    Hint: Rather than the "Palau" style reef hooks made from a big marlin fishhooks that most people seem to use, mine is made from a "reefing" hook. (A "reefing hook" is an "s" shaped piece of stainless steel used to hold down the luff of the mainsail down when the sail is reefed. Unlike a fishhook, it's not sharp and is unlikely to puncture a palm or finger if something goes wrong. You need to open one end a bit after you buy it - just put the hook in a vise and use a length of pipe to bend open one end. I'd be happy to post a photo if anyone is genuinely interested.

     

    I also use a sailboat snap-shackle at the other end of the reef hook - it's easier and faster to release, and 4 or 6 mm braidline, not for its strength (which is excessive), but because it's easier to handle without gloves and tangles less. This is gear for a medium-sized crusing sail boat, available at any yachting supplies store. (While you're there, buy extra braindline, shock cord and rubber tubing in the diameters you need by the meter - the choice and price should be better than at a dive shop.

     

    Frogfish


  6. Starbuck,

     

    I don't have anything taken with the D2X on my website, or anything less than a year old for that matter. But I've been working on reorganizing images these past couple of weeks, so I hope that may change.

     

    But here's an underwater shot from R4 taken with the 17-35 mm that I liked, and that I don't think I could have taken with the 12-24, certainly not with the 10.5. This was shot under a table coral (which is partly visible), at the long (35) end of the lens. The equivalent focal length for a full-frame camera would be about 50 mm. I've never used the 17-55 above water or under, but as far as shooting underwater through a dome, I don't see much point in trying to go much longer than this.

     

    Exposure was 1/80 at f/3.2, twin inon strobes. ACR color temp was 8100 K (tint +80), no exposure adjustment in ACR.

     

    Compressing this image into a small jpeg doesn't really show what I like most about the shot, so I've made a quick blow up of a piece of the original raw file, with just a quick curve and some sharpeningl, which I'll probably have to attach to a second post.

     

    Frogfish

    post-1236-1142136529_thumb.jpg


  7. I guess I should weigh in on the 17-35. With the Fuji S2, I relied mainly on 12-24 mm and 10.5 for wide-angle underwater, and used the l17-35 mainly for subjects too shy to approach closely with the wider lenses, such as sharks.

     

    With the D2X, however, I believe I can see a perceptible difference in the quality of images (sharpness, color punch) between the 12-24 and 17-35 zooms even with the reduced frame format. I suppose it's possible that I could be imaging this. I haven't figured out a good way to test it, but the perception that the 17-35 is producing better images is powerful enough for me that I don't think I'll bother.

     

    So on my first liveaboard outing using the D2X, I ended up using the 17-35 mm a lot more underwater than I ever had before. Admittedly the wide end isn't that wide, but with reasonable viz this lens can take lovely wide angle shots. It is also clearly superior for subjects that can't be approached closely, shooting at the longer end of the lens through a dome .

     

    I purchased my 17-35 about five years ago for use with a full-frame film SLR, and a surprising proportion of my best (in my view) topside photos have been taken with it. honestly don't know if I'd purchase such an expensive lens again ow, but I do know that I'm using this lens a lot more now (above and under water) with the D2X than I ever did when I was shooting the S2. And I certainly don't want to sell it.

     

    Frogfish


  8. 1. I believe Richmond in the Concourse Mall is the only Scubapro distributor. Their regulator servicing is very good, but there's usually a wait so it's not ideal for visitors.

     

    2. There is very a good Halcyon distributor. SILENT EXPLORER 111A Jalan Besar Singapore 208831 Republic of Singapore Tel. +65 6299 6800. Talk to Leung Waimun.

     

    3. The DiveRite distributor (also the IANTD and handles other tech diving gear) is:

    KONI Investment Pte Ltd., 196 Pandan Loop #07-08 Singapore 128384

    Call Priscilla on 93832255 or Mr Khoo' on 96317557.

     

    4. Divemasters Pratama Pte Ltd (315 Outram Road #09-07 TAN BOON LIAT BUILDING Singapore 169074), Tel 62260991) handle APEKS regulators FORCE fins, a few other items.

     

    Scubadru could provide more and better info, but I think he's on a plane about now.

     

    Frogfish


  9. All that said, it's nice to be able to control the amount and kind of shadows through positioning the strobes or adjusting their power, and you need two strobes for that.

     

    I agree that far too many macro shots (inclding mine) are shot with flat even lighting using two strobes at the same distance from the subject on both sides. Some even look almost as if a ring flash had been used. But there's nothing stopping anyone with two strobes from using them in more interesting and creative ways (including moving the second strobe further back and/or depowering to get better shadowing across the image, or using 2nd strobe for side-lighting, top-lighting, or even back-lighting, and - last but not least - if you really want the strongly shadowed "one-strobe" look on a particular shot, just turning it off.

     

    Frogfish


  10. I haven't been there recently enough for anything I say about the operations to be reliable, but both Atlantis and Asian Divers have very good reputations as dive operations, and the diving in this area can be very good. When I lived in Hong Kong, I went to Puerto Galera for diving at least three or four times every year.

     

    Cuisine has never been the Philippine's strongest claim to fame, but Atlantis used to have one of the better (Italian) restaurants in the Sabang/La Laguna strip, and I assume still does. Weather can be a bit unpleasant during the rainy season, which I think is about now.

     

    Frogfish


  11. I use a clean, newish "photographer's" chamois to clean and polish glass ports; it seems to work better than microfibre cloths, at least for glass. With a difficult spot, I put some lens cleaner on the corner of an older chamois, then re-polish with the newer one. (I also use a chamois to clean lens filters but, since I've always got at least a UV filter on every lens, I almost never need to touch the surface of the lens with anything but a squirt of air.)

     

    Frogfish


  12. I'd also vote for the Nikon 80-400 VR. I took mine to Africa in 2004 - it had been a gift from my wife the Xmas before. I was very happy with what this lens could do with wildlife, also with it's very reasonable weight, size and cost. You really can hand hold this lens at 400, though a monopod helps. (I didn't have a monopod then, and so ended up using my tripod configured as a kind of bipod in the safari vehicle, which worked well.)

     

    The midday light in most parts of Africa is very bright and lasts a long time - you shouldn't have any problem getting fast shutter speeds at normal ISO levels during most of the daylight hours. If you happen to run into a great action sequence requiring very high shutter speeds in the early morning or at dusk, then you might wish you had a 2.8 lens, but you'll still be able to get a reasonable shot by kicking up the ISO. When the animals/birds you're shooting are stationary or moving slowly, as is usually the case, there is no real problem.

     

    All these were shot with the 80-400 VS, either handheld or propped on a tripod used as a monopod.

     

    DSCF4078_C.jpg

    Cheetahs

     

    DSCF4280_C.jpg

    Terrapins

     

    DSCF3486_C.jpg

    Burchell's coucal

     

    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)


  13. I did a quick round-trip from Bali to Singapore and back on SQ at the beginning of the year. As usual (or perhaps a bit more than usual), I was doing a lot of shopping in Singapore, and was pushing the checked luggage allowance a little, and I was certainly carrying plenty of carry-on too, with no problems.

     

    The one airline to watch out for flying Singapore to Bali is Air Asia. Nice airline, cheap basic price on all seats, but the luggage limits are ruinously tight, and if you go over, you pay through the nose.

     

    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)


  14. Joe,

     

    As mentioned earlier in this thread, I use the TUSA Liberator II. The problem with (most?) of the Scubapro masks for us visually impaired types is that they have a single plate rather than two separate glass lenses, so can't be fitted with corrective glass. I dive (and travel) with two identical Liberator IIs.

     

    One other option, if you find reading/seeing small close stuff (like gauges) more difficult than you like, is the big Mares ESA, with six lenses. In addition to the main forward looking lens for each eye, which can be replaced with a corrective lens, there is also a downward looking smaller rectangular lens which can be left as plane glass, or optionally replaced with a (different) diopter corrective. You look down through these at your gauges (or pygmy froggies), but ahead for distance stuff and the viewfinder.

     

    In effect, you end up a bifocal mask. (The additonal two side lenses are not replaceable, but they give you better peripheral vision.)

     

    The downsides of the ESA are that it is (1) big (this is not a low-volume mask), (2) a bit funny-looking, and regrettably, (3)rather fragile. You need to be very careful packing them. The frame can crack easily. I always packed mine carefully, but I lost two before giving up. Both times, I didn't notice the crack above water - it's hard to see. You find it when you're at depth and one of the main lens suddenly pops out, at which point distance vision and reading your gauges both become much harder than it was with an ordinary mask.

     

    I did like the ESA, but after I went through two of these expensive masks in only two years, I decided it was time to move on. The Liberator II has proved very durable, and you should be ok with reading gauges and computers as long as you don't overdue the correction factor. (If your eyes are different than mine and you have more trouble reading gauges than I do, you could replace one of the original lenses (the one for the eye you don't look through the viewfinder and focus with).

     

    Frogfish


  15. Joe,

     

    I've been diving with a prescription mask for years - I carry two. It corrects for my near-sightedness, but does make reading gauges/computer displays with small text/numbers more difficult - one reason I rely mostly on computers with BIG display numbers. Not great for pygmy seahorses and the like, but I can see them. (I sometimes carry a magnifying glass, but with the 105 mm lens and an aiming/focusing light, the viewfinder usually does a better job.

     

    It's fine for the viewfinder without adding any dioptic correction on the camera viewfinder or (on my older Subal miniflex housing) on the housing optic.

     

    Frogfish


  16. One method that people have used in Komodo is injection with a copper sulphate solution. I've not read any of the scientific literature on the subject, but this approach is said to be effective. The copper sulfate solution is in a plastic container, attached by a hose to an injector (with a fairly long tip, to avoid exposing operators' hands to the spines) that injects a measured dose.

     

    Frogfish


  17. If you have Photoshop, then you don't really need a special program for this. Just select white or a light color, hit the text tool, select the font and size you want, and type your sig, which will appear on a separate layer. Go to Layer -> Style and turn on bevel/emboss, adjust to your liking. Now go to the layer palette, change the blending mode of the text layer to overlay, and adjust the opacity until you like it.

     

    It's also very easy to load all of this into a Photoshop action, if you want to automate it.

     

    Frogfish

    post-1236-1135819276_thumb.jpg


  18. You should check out Rob van der Loos' boat in Milne Bay, the Chertan. Not part of or affiliated with any of the fleet operations, virtual or otherwise. Milne Bay is one of the most spectacular places I've ever dived - biodiversity is off the charts, and Rob knows it very well. Also a nice guy, and a very good u/w photographer himself. I've done two trips with Rob in Milne Bay, and I'm itching to do another.

     

    The operations that mreid mentions are also very good, though I haven't been on them myself. This is a different area, both the Febrina and Star Dancer usually operate between Kimbe Bay and Rabaul.

     

    Frogfish


  19. Thanks to everyone, and especially James, for the very useful and informative replies. What all of you are saying makes a good deal of sense.

     

    One thing I was interesting in doing this for was to try longer exposure wide angles (using the Magic Filter and ambient light). It seems clear that's going to mean a big, heavy tripod. The BC buoyancy is an issue I hadn't even thought of - I use a fairly small (30 lb max lift) wing.

     

    Sounds like this may not be feasible for the trip I'm planning in January, but I'll definitely be trying some of these ideas out when I get back to Bali.

     

    Frogfish


  20. Has anyone here thought through (or better yet, succeded at) making a workable tripod for underwater use? I've considered cobbling something together from ULCS arm sections, but it sounds inelegant. Another thought would be to just buy a cheap conventional tripod and use it until it doesn't work anymore, which probably wouldn't be long.

     

    Any thoughts, experiences?

     

    Frogfish

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