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Posts posted by frogfish

  1. Due to a cancellation, we've got one cabin free on a trip to Komodo on the Bidadari, with Mark Heighes, over 26 March 2 April (7 nights). That's two berths, US$1,000 per person, or $142/night, which isn't bad.


    The trip will start and end in Labuanbajo, Flores, so the full trip will be spent in Komodo National Park. Call it 5-1/2 or 6 days of diving, depending on flight schedules and energy levels the day we arrive in Labuanbajo.


    The price does not include transfers from Bali to Labuanbajo. You'd have to get yourself to Bali and cover accomodation in Bali before and after the trip. We'll make arrangements for the Bali - Labuanbajo - Bali flights.


    This is a group of friends - almost everyone else will know each other and most have done trips together to Komodo (and other locations) together before. There will be two young children - both charming (I've done several trips with them and their parents before) and absolutely no problem. There may be some moderately aggressive diving, and there won't be a lot of handholding.


    The Bidadari is a Phinisi schooner, the former Sea Contacts I. Six cabins (12 persons). A very ok boat. All cabins have en suite heads and a/c. It's not the most luxurious vessel out there, but it doesn't cost $400 per person per night either. Mark Heighes (and other people who will be onboard) probably know the sites in Komodo as well or better than anyone. Air only - no nitrox.


    Since I'll probably be the only other u/w shooter on board, camera working space, charging etc. should not be a problem.


    If you can make this trip, consider yourselves good company on a boat, and are interested, contact me by email asap. Other people on the trip are also putting out feelers to friends and dive buddies so we can fill this cabin quickly, it will probably be first come first served.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  2. I agree with Derway on shacks. If you're using the micronesian bottle trick, the flash of the strobe will make the shark turn-away - you're not likely to get another shot head-on, but if your strobes recycle fast enough, you might get anothers shot broadside. Anyway, the point being that the strobe fire repels them.


    Sharks sense the electrical fields from strobes, and some people (Scubadru for one) maintains that shooters with live strobes are more likely to get bumped by coppers (bronze whalers) in South Africa.


    Based purely on anecdotal personal experience, my biggest concern about strobes is with cephalopods. I've seen cuttlefish "act" dazed and sort of out of it after someone (guess who) fired strobes off in their face multiple times. I try not to do that now - plus I've probably got enough close-up sepias. The concern here, of course, is that the animal may be more vulnerable to other predators after being blinded or dazed by the strobes.


    I know nothing about the Caribbean, but in general, as long as you don't touch things and don't stick your hand in or on places it shouldn't be, there isn't much out there that is likely to hurt you. You're far more at risk from your own mistakes, or those of people running the boat, filling your tank, servicing your gear, or other divers.


    You're going to feel a lot more comfortable after you've got back into diving and have more recent dives. You shouldn't feel obligated to take the camera with you on every dive, either.



  3. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that you supported the collectors' actions in "writing" on table corals, nor that damage of this sort would necessarily result in killing entire colonies. Nor am I opposed to collecting per se, provided its done in a way that avoids serious damage or loss of coral or other biota, and that target species are not hunted to the point of scarcity or local extinction - something which has certainly happened in some parts of Southeast Asia.


    Scraping numbers into live coral like this is clearly over-the-top. I hope you do send a copy of one of your photos to the local newspaper.

  4. For me, scratching letters and numbers into the corals like that is an outrageous act of vandalism. Yes, acropora sp. corals are relatively fast growing. But I'm not at all convinced that there would be recovery from the kind of damage shown here "in a couple of weeks" - esp. "Delap Point/Nk1104097447.jpg", where the gouges appear quite deep. Damage like this is also likely to make the corals more vulnerable to infection.


    If there is a legitimate need to do so, then there are other ways to "mark" the location of objects left on the bottom - such as tieing a lift bag on to a piece of rock or dead coral.


    The Marine Aquariam Market Transformation Initiative (MAMTI) - a project supported by the Global Enviroment Facility of the World Bank, The Marine Aquarium Council, CCIF and Reef Check - is working to clean up the aquarium fish trade in Indonesia and the Philippines through establishing Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) certification systems for suppliers. The project includes building capacity for scientific assessment and monitoring of coral reefs and marine ornamentals stocks, training collectorsin non-destructive collection techniques (!), establishing no-take zones and reef and stock restoration, cyanide trace sampling in collected stock, as well as building awareness and demand for certified marine ornamentals among consumers.





    Did you meet any of the "collectors" that are doing this? Based on your photographs, I would expect that there may be other serious problems with the way they are doing their business. Did you get deeper, where the collecting was going on, and were there signs of cyanide damage?


    I don't know many people who collect marine ornamentals, but it's important to supporit projects like MAMTI that are working to train collectors and reduce destructive practices in the industry.


  5. It was nice to see ULCS posting in this forum - you have a lot of fans here, including me.


    The question I've always wondered about is whetherl it ever be possible to get arm sections (and perhaps other components) made from carbon fibre. One set of four 12" arm sections, plus a tray and two handles, ends up weighing quite a bit.


    I used to do a lot of sailing, and at the high end a lot of components that used to made of stainless steel or other metals are now carbon fibre. CF fabrication technology seems to have come a long way - I know that making things like entire masts or rudder assemblies out of carbon fibre can be difficult, but I would assume that replacements for 8" or 12" arm sections, trays, handles could be fabricated from carbon fibre at reasonable cost, acceptable performance, and significant weight savings.


    For arm sections, I don't quite know why it would not be possible to use off-the-shelf carbon fibre tubing to create ultra light weight buoyancy arms. (I'm assuming that the balls would still be aluminum, and that they would have to be attached to tubes with some sort of glue. Basically, I think we're talking about a miniature spinnaker pole.



  6. Craig's rework is an excellent illustration of what can be done to salvage a badly deficient image by playing with channels and other photoshop tools, though it's a lot easier if you can get the colors close in the original image (by shooting within strobe range, for example).


    To my knowledge, Titan triggers are only dangerous when they're protecting their nests. You'll know. These fish are not to be taken lightly - a diver in Puerto Galera had most of her ear torn off by a Titan a few years back, and I've seen fins with surprisingly big bite marks taken out of them.


    In my experience, when a Titan attacks, it will come straight at you. The conventional wisdom is that the territory defended by a Titan is basically the shape of an inverted cone, centered on the nest. So the idea is to swim sideways and, if possible, down slope, so as to get out of the danger zone as quickly as possible. Avoid swimming upwards, as the circumference of the area defended by the Titan is supposedly larger at shallower depths.


    I've experimented a bit, trying to finding the edge of the "danger" zone and seeing if I could shoot an attacking trigger from just outside it. These were not successful. It seemed clear that the "zone" within which the Titan is likely to regard you as a potential threat is quite elastic, not really a well-defined area.





  7. Thanks, Marli. I've corrected the nudi ID, and some mistaken IDs on other inverts as well. Thanks much to others who pointed out errors, esp. LH.


    I'd be surprised that you'd be having serious problems with dirt on the mirrors with a new scanner. But it's a big problem here in the tropics, if you don't have a permanently air-conditioned dry room for things like scanners to live in.


    Drop me an email with your travel plans and dates.



  8. I've been using ULCS strobe arms (and handles, and a tray) for years, and like them very much. Cranked down, the arms are very rigid underwater. The o-ring mounted on the balls provides a very positive gradual locking which can always be loosened.


    As derway points out, if you are using heavy strobes (esp. something like Ikelite SS200s) and long arms, it isn't realistic to expect the clamps to hold the arms and strobes rigid out of the water. I've attached fastex clips to my arms sections which makes it possible to make the entire rig a rigid triangle that is stable and relatively to handle. There was a discussion about this on one of the forums some months ago.



  9.  My only question then is...is it difficult to manipulate this wheel, due to the fact that the housing is wider than the camera?  My hands aren't that big, and I wonder if my fingers could reach and if this would pose more problems than the side wheel of the Sea and Sea???




    Ryan, at Reef Photo, suggested I replace the stock Subal handles with Handles from ULCS. The ULCS handle mount is adjustable, in (nearer the housing) or out (further from the housing). This allows you to adjust the handle to the perfect control spot for your fingers. The aperture wheel can then be easily rotated with your index finger. The shutter wheel with your thumb.


    The Subal is slightly negative with the 8" dome. More so with a flat port. I find it very easy to "One hand" the housing with any port attached. YMMV.


    I also use ULCS handles with a Subal housing. The price for having this flexibility in positioning handles is that they must be mounted on the ULCS tray, which bolts to the bottom of the housing. The ULCS handles themselves weigh considerably more than the Subal handles, plus the tray (a cut-out) bar - the sum of it is that this adds quite a bit of weight to the rig, which can be an issue for flying and also if you have to shlep the housing any distance on foot.


    There is another very important plus with using the ULCS handles on a tray, however. If you're shooting wide angle, you may well be using a 12-24 DX (or the 17-35) lense with Subal's big domeport. - which itself is one of the best reasons to go Subal, IMHO). If so, you need to use a 50 or 52 mm extension ring on the dome. The big dome port plus extension ring together make up a considerable volume, which translates into a lot of buoyancy forward, which tends to make the housing want to rotate towards a dome-up orientation. I found this very tiring on the wrists after a number of dives, and it was very difficult to "one-hand" the housing. Keep in mind that with the Subal handles, you will be attaching your strobe arms to the top of the housing, so the strobe arms and strobes will contribute to the problem.


    Using the ULCS tray and handles puts some additional weight down low, and also positively changes the balance of the entire rig. The axis of rotation moves lower to near the bottom of the housing. The upshot is that this significantly reduces the "torque" of the turning moment I mentioned, making the housing much easier to handle. For me, that's worth the additional overall weight. If I were shooting the 10.5, it might be worth going back to the Subal handles, but changing handles seems a bit too much bother.


    Another (less important) factor is that moving the strobe arms to the tops of the handles keeps the top of the housing clear and makes it easier to look at the data window and access the controls there.



  10. Yep, been out here a long time, but nope, never saw archer fish before. But then again I've never been to a place where it was possible to get right into mangroves like this. Innaresting fish.


    To the very limited extent that I was able to calibrate my LCD monitor, I belive it is also set to Adobe RGB 98, which is also the colour space I use in Photoshop.



  11. Thanks to all for the very nice comments. Responding variously...


    - I'd never seen archer fish before either, Alex. I was disappointed not to see the NatGeo footage behavior - i.e., shooting down insects etc. from the mangroves with a stream of water, but I suppose that only happens when there are good things hanging around on the mangrove branches to shoot and eat. The only insects I ran into under the mangroves were mosquitos, which kept biting me on the forehead. I was glad I was taking the anti-malarials.


    - Thanks, Craig, for the advice on the Tabula title page. The background image was (and is) a bit of an experiment. I'd already decided I needed to tone it down a bit, but hadn't got around to it. Also your comments (and from others by email) on the colors, which were reassuring. I don't know if the reduced saturation is my monitor, or the CS converter. I think I was getting better saturated images when I was using the Fuji converter, but the CS raw converter interface is easier and faster, especially for fixing white balance and shadows. The way the Adobe raw converter is integrated into PS is nice too. It's a dilemma.. In the next few weeks, I hope to get the Bali and Komodo pages updated and back up on the website. Looking back a few nights ago at some shots I that worked up before I got PS CS is making me wonder whether I shouldn't go back to the Fuji converter after all.


    - Thanks, CeeDave. I'm going to put one the (?) queenfish shots and some others where I'm unsure (or completely baffled) about ID up on the Critter ID forum and hope for help. Up to now, my library of ID books has been generally sufficient for most places I've been, but Raja Empat was a different story.


    - Drew, did you somehow shoot those u/w seascapes as panoramas, or were these cropped? Very familiar scenery indeed, esp. the first one. And you're right about the 2GB card too, I did get a bit triggerhappy.


    Re: your earlier message, I was looking at the Queensland Grouper (E. lanceolatus) entry in Gerald Allen's book last night. These are apparently the biggest bony fish (i.e., excepting sharks and mantas) that anyone will ever see on a coral reef, up to 3 meters in length and 400 kg. (Don't some billfish get that big?) There have been reports of fatal attacks by E. lanceolatus on divers, which doesn't seem implausible to me at all. I just wish my shot of the big one had been half-decent.



  12. My strobes seem to travel more often than I do. If only they could get United miles and transfer them to me.


    The Giant Queensland Grouper was shot in the mangrove channel, in the islands to the west of Misool. Not a full adult, not much over a meter, or thereabouts, and still some juvenile coloration on tail and rear of body. We had a couple full grown GQGs earlier, including one monster on an early morning dive at an island east of Misool. It was deep, and very dark. The fish was on a big ledge - Mark H. almost swam into its mouth before realizing it wasn't a cave, then sort of levitated in the water, it's hard to explain. The grouper then swam right by me, but I blew the shot, out of focus and underexposed. At the time, it looked to me to be about the size of a Volkswagon, but based on the photograph I tried to take, I must have been pretty narked, so who knows.


    The other GQG was big too, but nothing like the first one. No shot of that one either. It was down a lot deeper than I wanted to go - they don't seem to like shallow. In any case, the conventional wisdom that there are no big fishes in Raja Empat may need to be revised.


    I'm not sure what you mean by distortion in the diopter over/unders. There is a refraction thing with the mangrove roots - they don't line up perfectly above and below water. I think that's just physics. The other thing you might be talking about is that I had trouble holding the housing steady to line up the seam in the diopter with the water level on the dome. Some shots had a noticeable horizontal line from the diopter seam cutting across the water line. I used clone and/or healing tool to fix up some shots I otherwise liked, and might have done a crude job of it. The next time I try over-unders, I'm going to put a lot of flotation under the housing.


    Nope, never noticed the sand $ at that other place.



  13. Visibility in Raja Empat varies by location and even during a dive, but typically wasn't great. Some places it cleared up below 25 or 30 meters, but then it tended to be dark. We had good viz in the islands West of Misool, and at Melissa's Reef. Waters in most East Misool sites are, shall we say, rich in nutrients, but still spectacular. I'll post a shot at the end of this msg showing what I mean.


    The Bidadari is run by DiveKomodo. They used to run the Evening Star II, a beautiful old schooner, now retired. Their current boat is the Bidadari, a Phinisi schooner. I only realized as we went aboad in Sorong that it is the old Sea Contacts I - which happened to be the first liveaboard vessel I'd ever been on.


    The boat is not luxurious, but perfectly adequate. It has a new engine and compressor, and a good dive tender. Food is OK. Not 5-star cuisine, but you're not paying 5-star prices either. They mainly operate on a charter basis. Six cabins, and the normal max no. of guests is 12.


    Mark Heighes, the Aussie who runs DiveKomodo, is a great guy. He has been running dive boats in Indonesia for a long time, knows the siets and understands photographers. He started out in the business working for his aunt and uncle, Rod and Valerie Taylor.


    Mark and I are working together on various issues involving Komodo National Park for The Nature Conservancy, including liaison between TNC and the Park authorities with all the liveaboard operators, so it would be awkward for me to "rate" any of the liveaboard boats I've been on, but diving with Mark was a very good time.


    This gives an idea of the visibility at some of the East Misool sites. This was shot with a 12-24 mm lens wide open, so the closer divers starting to disappear in the mist are probably about 6-8 meters away, the two more distant divers maybe 10-12 m.


    I consider this about the limit for shooting wide-angle effectively, as even the very close main subject is affected, but this is also about as bad as it ever got. This shot was also taken very shallow, maybe 14-15 meters. Deeper, it gets dark pretty fast.




    At the other end of the scale, in the image below, the camera is pointed almost straight up. The top half of the frame is dissected limestone karst formations above the water, and clouds. This water was very clear indeed.




    Indiana? Now I know what I've been doing wrong all thse years.



  14. I've finally got shots from trip to Raja Empat islands over Dec-Jan up on my website. Comments, criticisms, etc. very welcome. I'm particularly interested in hearing how colors look to others. For image work, I use an IBM Thinkpad T40, with an LCD screen. Paul Osmond says my colors are all off, and he may be right.


    The reefs and islands of Raja Empat are truly spectacular, and quite pristine, though at the end of the day I think I still prefer Komodo. Amazing corals, lots of fishes. A lot more things that I wasn't able to ID than usual, but this is supposed to be the ultimate location in terms of biodiversity, so perhaps that's not surprising. Visibility was not so great, as expected, but I mostly shot wide-angle anyway (and threw a lot away). I also experimented with over-unders for the first time on this trip, including some shots in mangroves, which was interesting and, I think, rewarding.


    The site is: http://www.tabula-international.com/ Click on the Raja Empat thumbnail.


    Here are a few shots I liked....




    (Your basic Raja Empat seafan)




    (Schooling scads under a jetty at a pearl farm, afternoon light.)




    (Soft coral and barrel sponge underneath mangroves)




    (UNID juvenile file fish)




    (UNID holothurian)




    (Featherduster worm)




    Coral shrimpfish




    (Barrel sponge growing on coral pinnacle in mangrove channel)


    All taken with Fuji S2, 12-24 DX or 105 mm, two Ikelite SS200s (for my sins - they're on their annual trip back to Ohio again as I write).



  15. At the moment, people staying at Club Seraya go by jukung (native craft) to dive Tulamben. If your main interest is the Liberty Wreck and/or the other sites in Tulamben Bay, you might want to consider staying closer.


    The standard procedure at Tulamben resorts is that you walk to the dive site, but your dive gear is carried by locals, mostly young women, who balance one or two complete sets on their heads. The service is not optiional - shlepping dive gear up and down the beach is a major source of income for people in the local village - this is one of the poorest regions of Bali. (You don't pay for this directly - it's included in the cost of a dive.)


    If you've got a very heavy camera rig to carry, that might be an argument for staying at Club Seraya and doing the wreck by boat. Personally, I don't find the walk from any of the resorts to be a problem.


    Tauch Terminal is closest to the wreck. Paradise and Mimpi are a bit further away, but more convenient for the drop-off - the three are all within a couple hundred meters.


    I used to stay at Tauch Terminal, but since they don't cooperate with outside dive operators, and I do all my diving in Bali through BIDP (a Sanur-based operator), when I go to Tulamben, I now usually stay at the Paradise, which has acceptable and very reasonably priced accomodations. You can arrange diving with them, or use an outside operator.



  16. Sounds like a good choice. See the other thread on Tulamben. People are positive about Club Seraya, a new place, not actually in the same bay, but close enough to get to the Liberty Wreck and other Tulamben sites by boat.


    Alternatively, there are several places to stay in Tulamben. Mimpi is upscale accomodations, a bit pricey. Paradise is down-market a bit, but acceptable and reasonably-priced - it's where I ususally stay. Tauch Terminal is quite a nice place to stay, but they require that you do your diving with them, use their tanks etc., so I haven't stayed there in quite a while, as I am usually diving with BIDP, a Sanur-based operator who I use for all my diving here in Bali.


    Email me if you want a contact address for BIDP.



  17. It's been awhile, so I hope someone will correct me if I'm out of date (or just plain wrong).


    I don't think there is any diving in the north, which is where Taipei is.


    There used to be a few ok dives in the south, near Oluanbi (at the very southern tip of the island, south of Tainan), but a few years ago I heard the sites had been pretty trashed, all the fish shot, lots of garbage, etc.


    You might consider the Philippines.



  18. But you should be aware that there are some disadvantages using a single synch cord + slave sensor for two strobes as opposed to a double-synch cord, mainly applicable to shooting wide-angle.


    For the Ikelite slave sensor (the only one I have any experience with), the sensor either needs to be aimed at the master strobe (the one connected with a synch cord), or it needs to be able to pick up the reflected light of the master strobe bounced off the main subject.


    Using the slave sensor in line with the strobe (the only option if the sensor is integrated) isn't always reliable when shooting wide-angle, particularly with subjects that don't fill much of the frame (and with nothing else behind them to reflect the master strobe flash).


    Aiming the slave sensor at the master strobe is more reliable, but you may have to readjust the positioning of the sensor after changing the strobe arm positions, particularly if you are using very long arms. This may not be a problem if you just set the strobe arms once and never adjust them, but it's a big problem if you like to reposition the strobe arms for optimal lighting of different subjects, or even if you're just pulling them in closer for CFWA shots.


    Also, you will not be able to pull the strobes back behind the focal plane of the camera, - the housing (and your head and body) will probably end up between the sensor and the master strobe. Positioning the strobes back behind the focal plane is sometimes necessary for wide-angle and almost always necessary with hyper-wide fish-eye lenses (see the thread "10.5 mm lens advice" now running on the SLR Housing forum).


    Finally, if you are in the water with other photographers, you will find that the direct or reflected flash from their strobes can set yours off as well. This can be a real problem if two or more photographers are shooting the same subject - if you're hitting the shutter a second behind the shooter next to you, your slaved strobe may have already fired and not had time to recycle at the time you shoot.


    I still carry my slave sensor on trips, in case both of my double synch cords fail (it's happened) and the only way I can keep shooting with two strobes is with a single cord and the slave sensor. But I've learned not to rely on a slave sensor unless I have to.



  19. Frogmansub,


    The other MIMPI resort is not at Secret Bay - which is actually near the Gilimanuk ferry terminal to Java! The Mimpi resort is over some hot springs in the mangroves near Menjangan Island, in the northwest, and mainly oriented to diving there. Of course, that does also put you in range for Secret Bay, and trips there can be arranged.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  20. It's getting late to book anywhere in the vicinity of HK for Easter, and flights. Wherever you decide to go, I'd make arrangements soon.


    used to live in HK. PG was the obvious choice when i wanted a place that was easy (and inexpensive) to get to for just a few days. But I'm surprised you found nothing memorable other than the pygmies. I found PG to be pretty good for a wide range of small to medium-sized things (frogfish, nudis, corals, etc.) I haven't been to Anilao, but some people say it's great. I get the impression that there's an overlap between PG and Anilao in terms of nudibranch species, but Anlilao may have more.


    When I had more time (and was willing to spend a bit more $$ on flights out of Hong Kong), Indonesia was usually first choice. Now I live here.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

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