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frogfish

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Posts posted by frogfish


  1. I love Tulamben, but agree that two weeks may be more time than you'd really want to spend in that one place. Haven't stayed at Seraya, but people say it's nice. On the other hand, the walk down the (rock) beach at Tulamben isn't that bad. And I'm usually carrying a very heavy u/w rig with two SS200 strobes.

     

    One plan would be to combine up to a week at Tulamben diving that area (including Amed, Kubu, as well as Tulamben itself), with a few days at Menjangan in the northwest (nice wall dives). Maybe stopping off in between at Lovina if you like mimic octopuses, and if you're diving with someone who knows where they are.

     

    An even better plan would be to get yourselves on a liveaboard in or to Komodo. Most are about 12 days, some longer, others shorter. Spectacular, world class dives, and a lot of variety. For my $0.02, the best diving in Indonesia.

     

    (Truth in advertising: I'm now working for the environmental organization that will be co-managing Komodo National Park, but I've felt this way about Komodo for a long time.)

     

    You'd still have time for a few days in Tulamben at either end of the liveaboard trip, and some day stuff in Bali as well.

     

    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)


  2. That was the only time I've ever been able to get a decent shot of garden eels in wide angle. There was a slight current that I knew would take me into the "garden", the exposure happened to be set right, etc. I just allowed the current to carry me in, holding my breath and w/o finning. Thanks for noticing.

     

    I'm more than a year behind on Indonesia u/w shots on the website, but hope to get some recent stuff from Raja Empat up in the next week or so.

     

    Robert


  3. We need a dissenting opinion here. I use autofocus when I can - more than I did before when I had a film housing. That's mainly because I shoot the S2, which has a small viewfinder to begin with, and there are no special optics available on the Subal S2 housing to make looking at it through a mask any easier. In my view, this is the biggest shortcoming of the S2 rigs, at least mine. Seacam housings are said to have wonderful viewfinder optics, so this shouldn't be a major issue for you.

     

    The "hunting" problem can be minimised by using a focusing light even in daylight. I use a Hartenberger mini with a wide-angle reflector on top of the housing.

     

    But there are situations where there is no alternative to manual focus. One is shooting in very shallow water and bright sunlight, where you get little ripples of dark and light passing over the subject. It sends the little autofocus brain in the camera into catatonic shock or something.

     

    The other is when the subject is partially obscured at least some of the time by things in front of its plane - commensals in a crionoid, shrimps or whatever in bushy black coral or sea whips. Things that move in the water. The autofocus will try to shift everytime something in foreground comes into the zone. Here, you need to set focus manually and then make fine adjustments with the camera while waiting for an unobscured shot.


  4. I've used this technique on underwater shots a few times. Tricky to position the gradient at first, but I'm getting better at it. It's useful with fisheye or 12-24.

     

    Not just sunball. With 10.5 or 12-24 at wide settings, for example, the lens scans a much wider field of view than a normal lens, or even human eye. This can compress the actual light-dark gradient spanning 100-180 degrees in the background water into a smaller apparent area in the image. It doesn't look natural when the background goes from light to very dark over what seems like a very short distance, though in reality the lens may be taking in a field of view of 100 degrees with the 12-24 to 180 degrees with the 10.5. (I'm not sure about the exact actual fields-of-view through a port with these lenses.)

     

    Careful use of gradient can reduce this unnatural appearing effect.

     

    Frogfish


  5. I'm also a subscriber to the UV-filter-at-all-times school. (unless there's another filter on the lens). I was under the impression that the only time that having a UV filter on the lens could be disadvantageous would be shooting into the sun (topside, of course), and I sometimes do take the filter off in that situation to reduce or eliminate flare. Obviously, this also presumes that the filter is of good quality and clean.

     

    In addition to keeping more expenseive lenses clean, there has also been the argument that the UV filtration function itself is important because film is more sensitive to UV than human eye. Supposedly the UV filter reduces haze in landscape shots. Again, this is obviously only applicable to topside, and I have no idea whether it applies to digital sensors as well as to film.

     

    But I'd be willing to listen to Craig (or anyone else) who believes that using lenses uncovered really makes a difference except in special situations (uch as shooting into the sun, topside)? Is there hard evidence on this?

     

    For cleaning lenses (when necessary) and filters, I really like photographer's chamois. Sometimes it leaves a few "crumbs", but these are easily blown off with a can of air. I also use an older chamois to clean the inside of ports, and my eyeglasses/sunglasses.

     

    Frogfish


  6. There was a well-documented account published a few years back, people were doing u/w video w/o cages or other special protection, several divers were attacked, very serious situations, but nobody was lost. Some incredible photographs.

     

    I understand that cages are now SOP for diving with Humboldt squids, but the cage has to be designed very differently than a shark cage. Call it ... "Calamari's revenge."

     

    EDIT: Probably was the Howard Hall - Ocean Realm story posted just above, which popped up while I was tapping out this posting.


  7. Same in Singapore. I had to buy the hyperutility disk as an extra. Didn't realize this at the time I bought the camera, so I had to ask CathayPhoto to send me the CD.

     

    There is (or at least was) an upgrade available for the converter program on the Fuji website, but this can only be used if the converter program is already installed. The upgrade is important,.

     

    Personally, I think that Fuji's converter (after the upgrade) may produce nicer images than the raw converter on Photoshop CS, but it's much more difficult and timeconsuming to use, so I usually don't bother.


  8. These days most of the operators seem to be arranging connections to Sorong through Makassar (Ujung Pandang) on Pelita. There also is (or was) the direct flight on LionAir from Manado to Sorong, but it might not be every day. But I've been told this connection is considered less reliable than the Makassar flight on Pelita.

     

    I'm sure that Tony Rhodes and the Kararu people will be able to figure out the best routing for you from Manado to Sorong. Follow their advice. If they say that it's best to fly back to Makkasar and then on to Sorong instead of taking the shorter, direct flight on LionAir (if that flight is still happening), I'm sure there's a good reason.

     

    I just did the flights from here (Bali) to Sorong and back (via Makassar) a few weeks ago. We had to overnight in Makassar on the way out, but the people organizing our trip still didn't want to risk to Manado connection. Our group pooled our check-in bags, so there were no over-weight charges on either leg either way. I was carrying both a Pelican case with housing + ports and Phototrekker backpack with cameras and lenses as carry-ons. I was allowed to carry on both after explaining that these were sensitive photographic gear. The overhead racks in the Merpati and Pelita planes (Fokker something-or-others) are not big enough for either of these, but I was allowed to stow both in a small locker area in the rear of the plane, and was not required to check them.

     

    In the past, some people have had problems of checked-in bags (with all clothes and all dive gear) not arriving in Sorong with them, and only following several days later. Everyone on one boat ended up diving with gear cobbled together from the spare bits on several boats and wearing the same swim suits and T-shirts for 14 days.

     

    I'm not aware of this happening this season, but it did happen last year. It's probably worthwhile having a knowledgeable Bahasa Indonesian speaker handling check-in who can forcibly point out to check-in staff that these bags have to accompany passengers on the same flight. If the flight is full (which is usually the case) and there seem to be a lot of bags being checked, it might be worth asking this person to prepay some sort of gratuity to the ground staff to order to reinforce this message and assure your peace of mind.


  9. I've done one Photoshop feature article here, about using Apply Image to repair damaged color channels, specifically to correct or salvage) u/w images in which the red channel is badly damaged or non-existent, which can easily occur with images illuminated purely by ambient light at depths of 20 meters or more, particularly subjects which might be shot at distances beyond strobe range such as pelagics and wrecks.

     

    Learning PS looks like it might turn into a life-long thing. I keep discovering "new" tools and techniques that really do make me want to throw it all away and redo almost every image I've ever done. Unfortunately, ars longa, vita brevis.

     

    For me, the latest discovery has been magic wand/lasso or color match tools to select the background water, feathering, and then selectively applying noise filters to those areas (or, alternatively, selectively not applying full sharpening to background areas, which sometimes amounts to almost the same thing). This allows more sharpening on the main subject without kicking the noise in the background up so high that it starts to look like woven fabric.

     

    I'm sure this is something knowledgeable PS users would consider very basic, but I hadn't worked out a good way of doing it before. So it's taken me, what, five years to figure out that I really don't need to apply sharpening to the background water (or sky, or out-of-focus areas in a macro shot).

     

    Using layers with variable opacity and/or different modes to fine-tune the effects of global changes is something I'm more likely to bother with now than before. The history brush is another tool that I'm just starting to get a handle on.

     

    Some here may argue that discussions like this belong on a different website, one focused on photoshop techniques, and they would have a point. Personally, I think that many problems of underwater images (and the best techniques to solve them) are specific enough to more than justify having those discussions here. Dealing with wiped out red channels on images taken with ambient light in deep water is just one example.

     

    That's why I'm glad one forum on this site is dedicated to "Image Processing, Printing and Storage," though to date I don't think the discussions of PS techniques have been as extensive or useful as they could be. Particularly when compared to the very informative (and highly technical) threads comparing and discussing different sensors and camera platforms.

     

    Unfortunately, spending more time playing with PS doesn't appear to be a optimal way to reduce love-handles. If only there were a "history" brush that could be used to selectively repair the ravages of time on our bodies and our lives.


  10. Re: (Viz?) Viz'art's point about multiple-element diopters for wide-angle lenses above, I used to use the 5T and 6T diopters with the fixed focal length 20 mm lens on my film set-up. There's no question in my mind that the images were better than those taken with single-element diopters i tried. However, the larger size (depth) of these diopters meant that there was very noticeable vignetting. Edge/corner sharpness wasn't great either, but that was probably due to the smaller Subal dome I used then.

     

    I use a single-element +2 diopter (supplied by Subal) with the 12-24 and 17-35 lenses, and the results are very good. Has anyone tried multiple element diopters (such as the larger diameter Canon products Viz'art mentions) with these lenses and compared results?

     

    I sometimes use 4T with the 105 mm. That's about as much magnifiation as I ever want or need.


  11. Alex apparently doesn't recall that we met and had a couple dives together here in Bali not that long ago. I didn't think the dives were that forgettable. I've enjoyed meeting met Eric on a couple of occasoins as he passed through, and also benefited from his very helpful advice on several matters. I also know "Scubadru" and we've done some diving together in various places, but all that precedes wetpixel.

     

    Frogfish


  12. Personally, I think I could dive on the Liberty Wreck every day for a year without getting tired of it, but your mileage may vary. The drop-off is still suffering a bit from the silt-out two years ago, but it's a good dive, and getting better. And there are other good dives in the larger area, though you might need a vehicle and/or boat to reach some of them.

     

    I haven't stayed at Scuba Seraya, but Scubadru and others who have all say it is very nice.

     

    I don't know the prices at Paradise off-hand. As Scubadru's message indicates, I use BIDP for diving here in Bali, including Tulamben as well as trips to Nusa Penida, and they make the arrangements and handle the diving side of things (tanks, fills, etc.) . But I'm sure Paradise would be reasonable even you dealt with them directly yourself.

     

    Frogfish


  13. (1) Good light at each work station is critically important. Something mounted on an adjustable swivelling arm like a good desk lamp. (The worst thing about resort diving, in my view, is that many places you end up staying were designed for honeymooners (or dirty weekenders). There might be a desk or table, but even if there is, there won't be good light to work under.)

     

    (2) If standup workspace (a la Pelagian), in which case a thick rubber mat or equivalent for easy long standing. Not carpeting - something that cleans easily. If sit-down workspace,, then good well designed chairs. In both cases, getting the height of the workspace (and positioning of working light) right is important. Some of us photographers are getting old, and either have back problems or soon will - after shlepping housings and all heavy items in hand carry bags through mile-long airports a few more times.

     

    (3) Something soft and cushiony on work surface that protects against scarring ports etc., and helps insure that housings and other items left on table don't take off if the sea kicks up. Towels work, but what I've found best are... spongey rubbery dinner mats.

     

    The ones I use are made of a spongey plastic mesh. I originally bought in a yacht place for my boat. They designed to keep plates on a table at sea. I can't remembver the brand name, but I've seen them everywhere. They are soft, grip any smooth surface well, keep cameras and the like from flying around, clean easily. (I carry them in the top of my Pelican case, sandwiching all the big o-rings and spares (in plastic bags) between the dinner mats and the pick foam.) Come in choice of colors. Green is a good choice - not to hard on the eyes working for long periods under bright light, and it's easy to find both dark and light colored items dropped or placed on it.

     

    (4) If possible, secure storage (cupboard, etc.) below the work space for unused ports, arm segments, lenses, etc. Helps keep the working surface uncluttered, and better than having to fetch and replace unused ports, lenses, bits and pieces in a small, shared cabins. If you really want to impress me, put a small light inside so I can see what's what instead of having to use my dive light.

     

    (5) I think DavePh may have somewhat overstated the case against airguns. Shop-powered air guns are clearly overkill, but air is good. Medium-powered air can safely be used to blow ALL the water off the outside of a housing, which can be better and faster than drying with fabric or air drying. Low-powered air is useful for blowing particles of dust off lenses etc. I use a can of compressed gas at home, and carry a small can of compressed gas on every trip.

     

    (6) I'm with DavePh all the way on bungie or webbing system to keep things in place when you're not there. I carry my own. If it's bungies, this also means hooks or eyes to attach them to.

     

    (7) I agree with James that a single charging area separate from the individual working areas, with plenty of 110 and 220 power points, is probably best.

     

    Frogfish


  14. (1) Good light at each work station is critically important. Something mounted on an adjustable swivelling arm like a good desk lamp. (The worst thing about resort diving, in my view, is that many places you end up staying were designed for honeymooners (or dirty weekenders). There might be a desk or table, but even if there is, there won't be good light to work under.)

     

    (2) If standup workspace (a la Pelagian), in which case a thick rubber mat or equivalent for easy long standing. Not carpeting - something that cleans easily. If sit-down workspace,, then good well designed chairs. In both cases, getting the height of the workspace (and positioning of working light) right is important. Some of us photographers are getting old, and either have back problems or soon will - after shlepping housings and all heavy items in hand carry bags through mile-long airports a few more times.

     

    (3) Something soft and cushiony on work surface that protects against scarring ports etc., and helps insure that housings and other items left on table don't take off if the sea kicks up. Towels work, but what I've found best are... spongey rubbery dinner mats.

     

    The ones I use are made of a spongey plastic mesh. I originally bought in a yacht place for my boat. They designed to keep plates on a table at sea. I can't remembver the brand name, but I've seen them everywhere. They are soft, grip any smooth surface well, keep cameras and the like from flying around, clean easily. (I carry them in the top of my Pelican case, sandwiching all the big o-rings and spares (in plastic bags) between the dinner mats and the pick foam.) Come in choice of colors. Green is a good choice - not to hard on the eyes working for long periods under bright light, and it's easy to find both dark and light colored items dropped or placed on it.

     

    (4) If possible, secure storage (cupboard, etc.) below the work space for unused ports, arm segments, lenses, etc. Helps keep the working surface uncluttered, and better than having to fetch and replace unused ports, lenses, bits and pieces in a small, shared cabins. If you really want to impress me, put a small light inside so I can see what's what instead of having to use my dive light.

     

    (5) I think DavePh may have somewhat overstated the case against airguns. Shop-powered air guns are clearly overkill, but air is good. Medium-powered air can safely be used to blow ALL the water off the outside of a housing, which can be better and faster than drying with fabric or air drying. Low-powered air is useful for blowing particles of dust off lenses etc. I use a can of compressed gas at home, and carry a small can of compressed gas on every trip.

     

    (6) I'm with DavePh all the way on bungie or webbing system to keep things in place when you're not there. I carry my own. If it's bungies, this also means hooks or eyes to attach them to.

     

    (7) I agree with James that a single charging area separate from the individual working areas, with plenty of 110 and 220 power points, is probably best.

     

    Frogfish


  15. I've cannot "auto-inflate" above water, and never could, but now have no trouble equalizing. When I was first learning to dive, it was a bit of an issue. For me, the trick is to perform an initial valsalva (no chin/jaw movements work for me) in the water but while still on the surface. As long as there is a pressure differential between my head and chest, it works. Subsequent equalizations are easy after that.

     

    Being barred from beginning diving because I was unable to perform a valsalva or auto-inflate eustacian tubes on dry land would have really pissed me off. More dive nazi-ism, I'd say.


  16. They're not really rude, just being Cantonese. Please say hi to Mr. Poon for me, and try to establish a relationship with him. He's a good guy, and has helped me out many, many times.

     

    Last resort: If Photoscientific doesn't have the diopter you need, but they happened to have a 72-67 step-down ring (if such a thing exists), you could still use my diopter. Ask.

     

    In the "beyond last resort" department, you could try to fix the 72 mm diopter onto your lens with duct tape or something. It might not be pretty, but the size difference is small, so this could work. In your situation, I'd give it a shot.

     

    I'll be leaving the house about 4:30 - 5:00 pm today - you and I are in the same time zone. I'll try to check my email once just before I leave, so let me know by 3:00 or so if you want me to bring the +4. I can ask around when and see if there is someone who could hold it for the Ondine on Thursday. (f you don't need it, then I don't have room for it.)

     

    We'll be in Raja Empat area until January 3rd, so the chances are reasonably good that we will meet up somewhere. We'll probably be spending most of our time around Misool.

     

    Frogfish


  17. You should have said that you're in Hong Kong.

     

    Try PhotoScientific in Central. Ask for Mr. Poon. They're on (I think) Wellington Street, just off D'Aguilar. Ask for Mr. Poon. Not a huge store, but a lot of what stock they do have is professional-oriented. If he doesn't have what you need in the shop, he might be able to get one quickly, though it sounds like you've cut it pretty close.

     

    If by any chance you're routing to Indonesia via Singapore, Cathay Photo iis almost certain to have the diopter you need in stock.

    What boat/operation will you be with in Irian Jaya? I'll be on the Bidadari, leaving tonight, arriving in Sorong Monday. I've got a 72 mm +4 (that I no longer have any real use for) which I could bring in case our boats line up somewhere. I could also try to leave it with someone/someplace in Sorong, but as I understand it we're getting off the plane and onto the boat and into the water in pretty short order.

     

    Frogfish


  18. Eureka!

     

    While I'm posting a response to a msg from Ike, let me say thanks for replacing my double synch cord so quickly.

     

    The problem emerged just three weeks ago. I had almost no hope of having 2 cords on the trip I'm leaving for tonight, But new friend who was staying here after diving in Sulawesi offered to carry the cord back to the US and ship it to Ikelite. They immediately sent a new cord back to him, which he sent back here. Got it last week, all seems well.

     

    Synch cords are one area where I really like to have one complete level of redundancy.

     

    Frogfish


  19. Eureka!

     

    While I'm posting a response to a msg from Ike, let me say thanks for replacing my double synch cord so quickly.

     

    The problem emerged just three weeks ago. I had almost no hope of having 2 cords on the trip I'm leaving for tonight, But new friend who was staying here after diving in Sulawesi offered to carry the cord back to the US and ship it to Ikelite. They immediately sent a new cord back to him, which he sent back here. Got it last week, all seems well.

     

    Synch cords are one area where I really like to have one complete level of redundancy.

     

    Frogfish


  20. Well, yes. But that's fair, innit? We leave for Sorong via Makassar Sunday. I should be back in Bali around 4 January.

     

    I just spoke today with Mark Heighes, who will be leading our diving on this trip, and is just back from doing the transfer trip from Kupang to Sorong. He told me they had some great dives, including exciting new sites in East Misool area. The bad news is that the passengers on the transfer trip drank all the wine on board. In light of the limits on luggage flying out from here, it looks like we'll be limited to daiquiris and gin 'n T's for our entire trip.

     

    Best of all, however, is that I've finally got my digital housing back from the Subal people. Going back to film these past few months has been ... difficult.

     

    As for Bali and points around here, yes, it has been a bit warm recently, but most days have been sunny and very nice. It's summertime [in the southern hemisphere] and the living is easy. Fish are jumpin' [in front of our cameras] and the sugar cane is high.

     

    Please do excuse me - I get a bit punchy a few days before leaving on a dive trip, and sometimes ven break into song.

    Frogfish


  21. But January can be a very good time in Raja Empat (West Papua). A lot of the liveaboards that work Komodo and Banda Sea during most of the year rebase to Sorong over December - March (or even November - Aprli), to take advantage of the good weather in West Papua at a time when conditions are ... less than ideal .. in Komodo and other locations further southwest.

     

    November-March is the height of the rainy season in Bali, Komodo etc. That doesn't mean it will rain all day every day, just that the likelihood of some rain is highest during this season. Getting wet before you dive isn't the worst thing that can possibly happen, is it? I've had some great dives in Bali in December and January. But you could also get unlucky and get a few days of mostly rain, which is almost definitely not going to happen between May and October.

     

    The upshot of all this being that there's always a good place dive here somewhere.

     

    Frogfish


  22. I bought the 105mm and people seem to agree it needs a good Focus light in AF mode in low light situations. I think Joe that was a issue you mentioned. So now I am leaning to picking up either the L&M Mini Mod the Hartenberger or the new Fix Pix.

     

    I've been using the Hartenberger Mini (with wide-angle reflector installed) as an aiming/focusing light (plus general night dive spotting light) for about a year now, and it works great. Autofocus much faster. It's also easy to dial up the light using rear control dial.

     

    I mounted a UltraLite ball fitting onto the handle of the Hartenberger, so it mounts easily on a fitting on the top of the Subal housing. (The strobe arms are mounted on top of handles on a tray, but I've also done this using the Subal handles and both strobes mounted on fittings on top of the housing, using a triple clamp on one to accomodate the Hartenberger.

     

    Frogfish

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