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Posts posted by frogfish

  1. All good suggestions - the Pindito and Komodo Adventurer are excellent boats run by good people. I'll be in RE again this January on Steve and Larry's boat (with Todd). Another good boat is the Bidadari, which is about to be replaced by a newly rebuilt (and bigger) very nice Phinisi, the name of which temporarily escapes me, which will also be run by Mark Heighes. It will start operating in March.



  2. I use Force Fins, but they are not the short fins that most people here seem to be talking about. Long, very stiff (almost completely rigid), with two "whiskers" on top to channel the water flow. It's the model that Evans calls the "Excellerator". They're designed to generate a lot of power on the down stroke, but there is almost no resistance at all on the upstroke - it feels very strange at first.


    It took a long time to get used to these fins - I did not like them at first, and I'm still not 100% sold. They use completely different muscles than other fins I've used, and put a lot of strain on the muscles around the arch of the foot. I would not advise anybody to buy them and take them on a trip without spending at least a week or so working with them in a pool or at the beach first.


    I don't think they are very good for frog kicks, which I use a lot with other fins. The way the Force Fin (or this model, at least) is designed to catch water only on the downstroke but spill it on the upstroke means they don't generate much force with a frog kick, though it's ok for fine positioning. Once the new muscle groups are suitably conditioned, these fins are very fast and efficient working up-current, though again the technique is completely different than other fins. It's a bit like driving a 12-speed bike up hill in low gear, but I can maintain headway and last longer pushing a camera rig with long strobe arms (folded, of course) against a strong current with these fins than with others I've owned or tried.


    I still switch back to my old Cressi Master Frog blades from time to time, and I think I've concluded the Force Fins are better, but I'm ready to try some of these pretty blue fins everyone is talking about, if I ever see them out here.



  3. I think this would be news to the Komodo National Park people. Komodos are members of Varanidae and so presumably would share the toxin-producing capability of the lace monitor (Varanus varius) mentioned in the abstract. I'll try to pass this on to the San Diego Zoo specialists who have been working on and with these lizards for the past few years in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and see what they say.


    The natural history guide produced by TNC mentions that Komodo dragons may be descended from a larger lizard from Java or Australia, Megalania prisca, which was still wandering around about 30,000 years ago, very recently in evolutionary terms,


    Here's a couple of shots of a komodo on a beach, up close and personal. Note the nice rope of (venemous?) saliva too.




  4. Welcome Bob,


    It's interesting - we have one other member who previously worked as a photographer in the 'adult' industry - I believe for Penthouse. I'll let him comment or respond if he so desires, though the truth is that many active members don't check the "introductions" very often, if at all, particuarly those of us with slow modem connections.


    There are a number of people here who dive areas where a dry suit is mandatory, or at least a good idea. I'm not one of them, however - call me the original Warm Water Wimp.


    While I'm here, also hi and welcome to Julia (great seal shots), Ellie and Ted, Augusto, Danny, Chris and everyone else. I hope you'll find this site as valuable and interesting as I have.



  5. If anyone doubts the ability of the 10.5 to focus right on the actual dome itself, this is a record of an accidental collision with a manta. The manta is actually on the dome in the darkened portion in the right center of the frame.


    We'd been swimming parallel for a couple of minutes and I was sure that the manta realized where I was when it suddenly turned towards me. I was looking through the viewfinder while swimming, and the last thing I saw was ... this.


    The collision shook me up a bit, and I was worried that the animal might have been injured or frightened, but it seemed that no harm was done. The shooting session with this very friendly animal continued for another ten minutes or so, but I can hardly claim this incident as a testimonial for low-impact diving.


    One interesting thing to come out of taking this otherwise useless image was learning that the skin of a manta is sort of like a golf ball, presumably for the same reasons. The tiny bumps, like the dimples on a golf ball, probably induce vortex shedding and thus reduce drag. Another was realizing that some subjects that can be too big - or too close - even for the 10.5!




    Date/Location: March 2005, Komodo National Park. Fuji S2Pro w/ 10.5 mm, 1/125 @ f/8.


  6. Micro$oft Windows conceals the file extensions, but they are still there. That means Windows is quite happy to keep files with the same name but different format together in the same folder - distinguishing them via the (invisible) file extensions, which you can (still see if you do a directory listing from a c:/ prompt). You also can easiliy see the extension and file type when you view the files in Adobe Bridge. Provided you sort on filename, the raw files and the other versions will appear listed next to each other.


    For instance, one folder might include the following versions of the same image:


    _DSC1077.NEF (the original raw image)

    _DSC1077.JPG (a JPEG version of the image)

    _DSC1077.TIF (a TIFF version of the image)

    _DSC1077.PSD (a photoshop working file version)


    All would appear to have the same name - _DSC1077 - in a directory listing, but the full filenames are different.


    In practice, I shoot RAW + JPEG, generating a NEF file and a JPEG file for every image. When I edit/delete, obviously I delete both the NEF and JPEG versions. After processing a raw file, I generally save the modified image file as a TIFF file, and then reduce the size of the file and generate an additional JPEG in a separate folder. I delete the original JPEG in the camera. To make the nature of the files absolutely clear, I also use affixes on processed files saved as TIFFs (_0 for converted but not processed, _1 for basic processing in Photoshop, _2 for Photoshop Processing plus NEAT IMAGE noise reduction, and _3 for any other special processing. I store processed TIF files with the RAW files, so part of a working file idrectory might look like this:


    _DSC1079.JPG - original JPEG from camera

    _DSC1079.NEF - original NEF from camera

    _DSC1080.JPG - original JPEG from camera

    _DSC1081.NEF - original NEF from camera

    _DSC1082.NEF - original NEF from camera (_DSC1082.JPG has been deleted)


  7. Another alternative, which might make sense for anyone who already has the light.


    The Mini-Hartenberger can be purchased with an optional wide-angle reflector, It has 25% 50% 75% and 100% power settings, all can be dialled in by rotating the disk at the back of the light. I attached mine using a ULCS ball fitting bolted to the Hartenberger handle, which is then attached with a clamp to a ULCS shoe on the top of the housing. Works great.



  8. A wide-angle aiming light is one solution to low light focusing problems with the 105 mm. I use a mini-Hartenberger with a wide-angle reflector mounted on top of the housing for all macro, day or night. The Hartenberger has adjustable power settings, which can be dialed in by twisting the disc at the back of the light. At night, at low(25% or 50%) illumination, the light works as a general housing-mounted dive light, which I kick up to 75% or 100% when it's time to shoot.


    Using manual focus too, the aiming light makes it much easier to see whether the image is really in focus, and where.



  9. I agree Mauricio, the housing facing up is an advantage. The problem comes when the dome pulls the housing too much. I used to be really tired and my wrists hurt a lot (in long dives) when I dove with my F100 in the Sea&Sea housing and the large dome. The Subal tends to pull too, but not nearly as bad as the Sea&Sea because Subal's fisheye port is smaller and heavier. So the real question is, how strong does it pull the housing upwards? I would assume not too much because aquatica has that heavy dome shade add-on (what is it called again?).


    With the large Subal dome and an extension ring pushing that buoyancy further in front of the housing, I found that the torque on my hand and wrist was too much, particularly if doing a trip with a lot of dives or when attempting to operate one-handed.


    Rather than weighting the dome, I switched from Subal handles and strobe arms mounted on top of the housing, back to a ULCS tray and strobe arms mounted on top of the ULCS arms on the tray. This solved the problem, mostly (I think) by shifting the axis of rotation from the center of the housing downwards. It adds a bit of weight to the housing, but it works, and I also prefer having the strobe arms attached to the ULCS handles, keeping the controls and viewscreen at the top of the housing clear. The housing will stay lie happily on its back.



  10. Yeah, I have been using one UW since 2000. It is an awesome lens. There is a zoom gear that fits it - line it up so you can use the focus/zoom control on the left side of the housing to zoom it.


    I also use the 17-35 on a Subal housing with the larger (I think that's the FE) dome, and a 50 mm extension ring. The zoom gear works perfectly too. It's a magical lens. I prefer it to the 12-24 mm for shooting subjects like sharks that cannot be approached closely enough for the 12-24 or 10.5 lenses.



  11. This feels like flamebait, but what the hell. I don't think you'll find many people concerned about harassment of marine life by photographers who also engage in (or endorse) spearfishing for sport, or believe catch-and-release gear fishing does no harm to the fish, or much enjoy shooting terrestrial animals for fun.


    There's no question (in my mind anyway) that some fish species can become habituated to the presence of non-spearfishing divers - at least to the extent that they can learn that these clumsy large creatures present no obvious threat and can be ignored. That doesn't mean that handling, touching, moving and other forms of harassment aren't stressful and potentially damaging to the animal. It's also reasonable to assume that some species are more sensitive and/or vulnerable than others, but we don't, of course, know which ones or what the real limits are. And even the presence of divers can be a problem. With the possible exception of Blue Corner in Palau, I can't think of many heavily-dived sites that once (say, as recently as 1990) had lots of sharks that still do. That may be mainly because of overfishing, but it's also true that sharks are rare at some sites that are heavily dived but never fished in regions where there are still sharks.


    Will a slight touch of the hand kill an entire coral colony? I frankly don't know, but neither does acropora. Again, the true answer might not be simple. There are many coral species, some are probably more vulnerable than others, and it's also reasonable to think that particular corals already stressed by other environmental factors (predation, temperature change) or other divers might be more vulnerable. The theory that even a touch could seriously damage a coral colony is apparently based on the idea that removing or damaging the mucus coating on the surface of a coral colony even in a small area can create an entrypoint for infection and/or make the coral more vulnerability to predators. I don't know if this is really proven, but I'm fairly certain that it hasn't been disproven either.


    Whether a slight touch can kill a coral or not, there's no doubt that clumsy fin kicks can do serious damage. Anyone who has ever dived on a truly pristine reef that is rarely or never dived or fished before knows very well the difference between that kind of place and a heavily dived, beaten up sites. One doesn't have to have been diving long to see the deterioration over time in any location that is heavily dived, though it is equally true that heavily dived sites that are protected from fishing (especially destructive fishing practices) may do better over time than undived sites unprotected from fishing pressures.


    The bottom line is that corals are live animals, not inanimate rocks. Some of us would view someone who idly carves his/her initials in the bark of a tree (even if the tree is simply "wild", not a threatened species, not located in a national park or nature preserve, and in spite of the well-known fact that many trees have survived this kind of abuse... as I was saying, some of would view that person as .. well, an asshole.


    I know I'm hardly pure on this subject. I eat (some) seafood, though I try to stick to tuna and other pelagics taken in fisheries where they are not believed to be under threat. Like Mike V., I examine sea cucumbers for commensals, and crinoids too. On more than one occasion I have accidentally damaged a crinoid I was looking at, and I'd be lying if I claimed I've never damaged a coral. I know very well that I have.


    Only a few days ago, I was urging someone on this board to pick up the next Linckia sp. sea star that he saw to look for the lovely parasitic crinoid, Thyca crystallina, that often lives on board. I personally don't believe picking up a Linkia, taking a picture of its parasites, and then replacing it on the same or similar substrate (of course) is likely to harm it - unlike feeding it to a Harlequin shrimp, which I admit I've also done, but I could be wrong. I personally don't believe its ethical to move a photographic subject to a different location for a shot, but I'll admit using a metal rod to gently induce a frogfish and similar creatures to move a couple of inches, and I've stuck the same rod into the sand under a mimic octopus in order to discourage it from re-entering its hole while I was trying to take its picture.


    Some might call it sophistry (and they may be right), but there is an important difference between trying (at least) to minimize one's impact as a diver and u/w photographer (with no illusions about that impact ever being zero) and acroporas argument which, if I understand hiim correctly, is that because some people fish, hunt, torture or kill fish and other wildlife for entertainment, and because not everyone condemns this, it's ok to do whatever you want. Or that because commercial fishermen kill snappers, harassing a puffer to induce it to blow up for a photo is also ok. It really isn't. (We know that this treatment seriously stresses the animal, may make it much more vulnerable to other predators, and some puffers subjected to this treatment end up inadvertently swallowing air at the surface which they cannot get rid of and die.


    I think Acropora has set up and is arguing with a strawman. Those who object to harassing and possibly killing pufferfishes just for a picture are not the same people who think it's fine to spearfish for fun.



  12. I haven't been to Anilao myself, but it's just across the Verde Strait (on the Luzon side) from Puerto Galera (which is on the north tip of Mindoro Oriental). These two areas are very close and it's not surprising that there seems to be quite an overlap in species, including unusual nudibranchs. Anilao may be a bit more "mucky".


    In any case, I'm confident that Harlequins can be seen there, but that doesn't guarantee that you will. Their range is huge (from Hawaii though most or all of the IndoPacific), it's just that one doesn't often see them. You may be just as likely to see them at Chuuk as in Anilao. As scubadru said, they're probably just good at hiding.


    You might try wearing a bright blue custom websuit that makes you look like a huge Linckia seastar. [insert smiley here.] Seriously, since H. picta are obligatory, even voracious, predators of Asteroidea, and are particularly fond of Linckia sp and Nardoa sp., that might be a clue on where to look for them. Though I'm not sure whether the best strategy would be to focus on where seastars are, or where they aren't! A pair of tiny Harlequins can make a surprisingly big dent in the immediately local starfish population in a short period of time.


    Even if you don't find a H. picta, all is not lost. Take a look at the underside of the next Linckia laevigata (the blue one) you see. You might find a beautiful Thyca crystallina, the lovely blue parasitic gastropod that lives on this star. If you haven't seen these before, I guarantee you'll be happy with the first one. Try a diopter added to your 105 to shoot these - they're very small.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  13. You're right, Harlequin shrimps aren't as common as many other interesting reef crustaceans (and none are more photogenic). I've seen them in the Philippines, at Puerto Galera, and here in Bali. They're not just pretty - Harlequins are predators of crown of thorns starfish, though I've never seen or heard of anyplace with enough of these lovely shrimps around to exert any meaningful control of a COTS infestation.


    In many dive locations, when Harlequins are found, it's not uncommon for the people who know about them to try to keep it a secret. Once the location is known to more than one guide or operator, it can be only a matter of time before there are groups of divers lined up to look at and photograph them, and the harassment can be enough to drive them away. Try turning your rig around to face you on the table, set the strobes for full dump, and fire them off in your own eyes a couple (or a couple of dozen) times, and it will be easy to see why.


    But now for my favorite Harlequin shrimp story. Pedro, one of the excellent instructors/dive guides for Asian Divers at Puerto Galera, was taking a group of divers to the (sunken) floating dock, which was also the location of a very cute pair of Harlequins. Harlequins love Linckia sp. starfish, and can often be drawn out of their hole if offered a bit of tasteful blue leg. As the supply of Linckia in the immediate vicinity of the floating dock had diminished significantly since the Harlequins' appearance on the scene, Pedro had got into the habit of descending a couple of hundred meters away to find a nice treat for the shrimps.


    This day, Pedro took his divers down, found a nice Linckia, and proceeded to lead his group to the dock, holding the starfish in front of him by two of its arms to reduce drag against the slight head-current. Reaching the dock, he took the starfish to the shrimps, who cooperatively came out and danced for the divers a bit. Then, after a quick tour of the other attractions of the site, led his group to do a blue-water ascent. On reaching the surface, one of the divers starting whooping and hollering, "That was FANTASTIC, UNBELIEVABLE, I've never seen ANYTHING like that before in my life."


    "So you liked the Harlequin shrimps, did you?" asked Pedro. "Well, it's true, they are pretty amazing."


    "What shrimps?" the diver replied. "You mean those little blue and white guys you showed us? No, I meant how you navigated all that way by following the middle arm of a starfish - you've GOT to show me how to do that."


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  14. To add on to what pgk was saying, the amount of data lost due to compression in jpeg files does indeed depend on compression setting and the nature of the original, but is also cumulative. I think a lot of the really bad examples of JPEG degradation are due to someone saving and reopening a file in JPEG format multiple times. This can lead to really nasty artifacts. Keeping the working copy of an image file in TIFF (or another lossless format) and making single generation JPEGs from that with low compression settings can mean no noticeable degradation.


    The JPEG compression algorhythm tends do do most of its work in the blue channel, because the effects of cutting back the data here is less noticable for most typical photographic subjects. This isn't necessarily the case for u/w, and I suspect this is why the jpeg format is more problematic for underwater photography, e.g., producing noticeable banding when there is a continuous gradient of blues in the background water. An easy way to check for damage due to JPEG compression is just to look at the blue channel. If there are any nasty artifacts, you should be able to see them easily.


    There's no question in my mind the best way to go is to start from RAW and keep the master working file in TIFF (or PSD) format, generating JPEG files from that master file if they are needed. If you are starting with a JPEG original, the important thing is to convert that file to TIFF (or PSD) before saving the file after any processing, particularly if you will be reopening the file and processing further, rather than saving the working file in JPEG format.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  15. I've been using Joe's idea for several years now, and not just for beach entry dives. The way the arms and housing form a rigid triangle makes this much more secure for carrying the housing and passing it from boats, etc.


    The only changes I've made (recently) are:


    (1) omitting the top fastex clips to hold the two arms together at the top. I've mounted a couple of suicide clips on about 3" loops of braidline near the beginning of both second arm sections. These clip off to the chest d-rings on my harness if I need to have both hands free, and I can clip them together for carrying or handling the housing.


    (2) Attaching the two remaining fastex clips with thin braidline rather than plastic ties, which will eventually break.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  16. Chiming in, yes the autofocus on the 80-400VR isn't super-fast, but it's not that bad, and it works better on some cameras (D2X, F5 or F100) than others (older Nikons). More to the point, this is also a relatively slow lens, so you can probably forget freezing birds on the wing or a big cat bringing down its prey at 1/1000 anyway, unless you're willing to kick your camera into the ISO equivalent of 1600 or 3200. So what do you need superfast AF for?


    If your main interest is underwater photography (in which case you're already going to be overweight with photo and dive gear on your flight to Kota Kinabalu), do you really want to bring a f/2.8 400 weighing 3 kg (or a 600 mm f/4 weighing 6 kg), plus a big tripod steady enough to support it with all the rest of your gear, or shlep it with you trekkiing through the Borneo jungle? Not me.


    At 1.2 kg (without the tripod collar), the 80-400 VR, for what it is and what it does, is incredibly small and light. You really can hand hold this lens at 400 mm, which is pretty amazing. Even at f/4.5 or f5.6, you'll probably be shooting at 1/125 or even slower, so the optimal subjects are going to be fairly static - birds perching rather than on the wing, an orangutan peering down at you from the trees rather than freezing a big cat running or in mid-air. You'll learn to live happily with that, and you probably won't be bothered by the slower AF. In low light, you'll probably want to use MF anyway.




    Lilac-breasted roller, Kruger National Park, SA. 80-400 VR.




    Cheetahs, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, SA. 80-400 VR.



    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  17. How offen you apply the rain-X? Every day every dive ,???


    Its sounds like you need to apply this only one a week...



    Me to my friend me to... I just cant make photos with both parts in focus :)


    Unless you're shooting with a fisheye, you probably need a split diopter, basically half of a +2 or +3 diopter glued to half of a neutral density filter. The magnifying part goes on the bottom and makes it possible to focus on both the u/w and above water parts of the scene. The neutral density filter on the top half helps reduce the difference in illumination between the u/w and above water parts.


    Over-unders aren't really something you can just do at the end or beginning of a normal photographic dive. You need to set up for it. You will need the split diopter with most wide-angle lenses, and you have to line up the boundary between the two parts of the diopter with the water surface, which can be tricky. Extra flotation on the housing helps. I also set up the strobe arms so that they are basically inverted, with both the strobes and arms underwater when the housing is half-submerged, and so that I don't have to support the additional weight of the arm sections above water.


    If I didn't have a split diopter and wanted to try to do an over-under, I'd probably try kicking up the ISO/sensitivity level to 400 or 800 get a tight aperture and hope there would be enough depth of field to get acceptably sharp focus in both parts.


    I needed to redo the rainex before every dive that I used it on.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

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