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Posts posted by frogfish

  1. Scuba Seraya is now operated under a management contract by Bali Hai, an Australian owned concern that is probably the biggest diving/marine tourism operator in Bali.


    My personal recommendation would be BIDP, an excellent Indonesian-owned and run dive operation with ofices in Sanur. They have knowledgeable, capable dive guides, a good fast boat for Nusa Penida and a comfortable van for travelling to and around the various north bali sites. They also do mixes gases (nitrox, trimix) and some IANTD tech courses (Deep Air, Advanced Nitrox). I've been diving with BIDP since I came to Bali in early 2003. I first earned about them from Larry Smith.






    TEL: +62 (0) 361 285065

    FAX: +62 (0) 361 271138

    EMAIL: info@bidp-balidiving.com

    WEBSITE: www.bidp-balidiving.com



  2. I just got GE and it's pretty amazing.


    Interestingly, the particular satellite photo for this specific part of the globe must have been taken in 2004, at least two years ago. The construction work to stabilize beach sands in the lagoon (a Japanese aid project) is clearly just underway in the photos. All that was finished by early 2005.


    My house is at 8°41'40.99"S, 115°15'50.63"E. There's an equal share in a bottle of rum (converted to daiquiris) to the next wetpixeller who finds his or her way here.



  3. For the 10.5 I find it best to keep the strobes only out about 1.5 feet and importantly, back a foot. This back a foot or so is critical when shooting people and other close subjects because I often get really close to the people etc. when shooting and with the strobes in a traditional position, one of the strobes often gets too close to the subject or the wreck/reef with can cause a local blow out.


    And while I use two arm segments per side on my rig, I would be better off with just one per side as it would mean less wrestling with the strobes to position them after I enter the water.


    Positioning the strobes back behind the plane of the lens is important with powerful strobes like the Ikelite DS125s some people on this thread are using. It was vital with the old Ikelite SS200s which had only a few power settings. Even using TTL, the strobe blast was so powerful that the TTL circuitry couldn't send a signal to quench fast enough to control exposure. This is less of an issue now that we have strobes that can dial up a wide range of manual power settings, especialy the smaller strobes w/ lower guide numbers.


    This still comes up in CFWA shots if you have a very close subject and other subject material that is also in strobe range, but slightly farther away. Moving the strobes back (and turning them up) will reduce the risk of burn out on the very close subject.. (Because light falls off with the square of distance, moving the strobes back dramatically reduces the illumination differential between the very close and less close illuminated subjects.)


    I first learned the trick of pulling strobes way back from Tammy Peluso, who at the time was the photo pro at Walindi Resort on New Britain. Does anyone here know where Tammy is these days?


    Yes, this has been a good thread.



  4. Yes, Suunto seems to have responded quickly and responsibly to this issue. It would also be nice it if more computer manufacturers incorporated the Weinke's RGBM decompression algorithm the way Suunto has, instead of just grafting a bastardized implementation of estimated micro-bubbles onto a Buhler decompression model the way that a certain computer manufacturer that now seems to spend more on marketing than engineering tried to do.


    Two guys on a liveaboard in Komodo that I was on a couple of weeks ago had (independently) just bought D9s. They seemed delighted with them. At least, they were constantly playing with them, adjusting them, and fiddling with them whenever they were out of the water, for whatever reason.


    One of them decided to do a free dive with the D9 in gauge mode, not having read the part in the manual which explained that once used in gauge mode, the computer cannot be used as a dive computer again for at least 48 hours, or something like that.



  5. Dave,


    Interesting to see this. I tried something very much this a few years, pvc pipe sections with end pieces plastic tied to my ULCS arm sections, plus another long section below the tray.


    I didn't think I got enough buoyancy from the pipe (I think what I used was about the same diameter as yours) to make the exercise worthwhile. With a big Subal domeport, the overall negative buoyancy isn't that bad, much less than it was with smaller dome, and it is much less if the dome is out on a 50 mm extension ring. There was a small reduction in negative buoyancy, but the increase in drag with pvc tubes on the arm sections seemed to cancel out whatever benefit that brought, at least to me.


    The housing is more negative with the narrower 60 mm macro port, but the very short arms for macro aren't long enough to be worth attaching anything to.


    Have you tried to quantify the buoyancy of the pvc sections and the difference they make to the overall negative buoyancy of your rig?

  6. Suunto Dive Computers Recalled Due to Decompression Hazard


    WASHINGTON, D.C. [19 July 2006] – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with [suunto], today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.


    Name of Product: Suunto D9 and D6 Model Wristop Dive Computers

    Units: About 3,900

    Manufacturer: Suunto Oy, of Finland

    Hazard: These dive computers could incorrectly track dive time, which could cause incorrect calculation of decompression requirements. This could lead to decompression sickness.


    The products affected are:

    D9 serial numbers 62102582 and below

    D6 serial numbers 62103693 and below


    See US CPSC announcement and Suunto's safety notice.


    There is a software fix. According to an emailing from Ben Davison, Suunto is extending the recall and upgrade to computers purchased through grey market retailers such as Leisurepro.



  7. As the responses above indicate, there are different schools of thought on this question. I'm certainly not going to say that any of the are 'wrong'.


    For myself, there are situations where I want to be able to have both hands free without necessarily having to ditch a Nikon D2X and its lens, housing, etc., ranging from assisting another diver to such routine tasks as deploying a submersible marker buoy SMB at depth with a spool. I've never seen anyone who could do this one handed. Another situation would be hanging on to a deco stage or mooring line to do a longish stop and not wanting to have to worry about the camera, or have it hanging in an asymmetric fashion that could cause me problems.


    Rigged for wide-angle, I have "suicide" clips rigged on both arms near the joint between the 8" or 12" arm sections. I know, it should be a bolt snap, but I found that it was taking me too long to clip on and undo bolt snaps on the surface, after entering and before handing the housing up to the boat in heavy chop.


    I can quckly attach either clip to one of the chest d-rings on my backplate harness. With both clipped on, the housing rides symmetrically and the drag isn't too bad. This is what I usually do if I need to deploy a SMB or undertake some other task requiring two hands, if I just want to turn off the camera and enjoy the dive.


    For macro, I only have one suice clip on one of the arms.


    For shore entries and exits, however, especially around rocks, I keep the camera housing unattached, dome port pointed up or wedged against my stomach, and hope for the best.



  8. Tried cyan on previous trip. The gels I'm using now are more blue, and seem to work better in the water/light conditions I usually have here.


    Here's another example where I think this approach worked, but I've got lots of other examples where it didn't - main subject too red, too blue, too something else. The ranges of depths, strobe-to-subject distances and perhaps other variables as well (time of day, exposure setings) where everything cancels out seem to be fairly narrow.




    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  9. Mike,


    All due respect, but the Tubastraea faulkneri polyps in the foreground of your image do look a bit overly red/pink to me. For comparison, here s a shot with 60 mm taken in Komodo a few days ago. The color seems different to me. I suppose may be regional variation in the color, but I don't think I've ever seen orange cup coral that red.




    But I also very much like using fill strobe with the magic filter. Here is one from Komodo. The technique - using reciprocal filters on the strobes - is a bit tricky, but it sometimes works!




    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  10. Anthony,


    Thanks for the message to my mailbox, and apologies for not chiming in on this thread earlier - I just got back from a week in Komodo a few hours ago. (It was a great trip.)


    I haven't stayed (or dived) at Max's place, but have heard mostly very good things about it and the diving. But I'd urge you to give the liveaboard situation one last think through. One of the most amazing things about the Raja Empat region is the variety, both marine and above-water. You'll miss a lot of that shore-based, though the area around Max's place is rich and very interesting. None of the LA vessels operating in R4 that I know about are cheap, but there is a range of prices.


    Re: your message, the viz varies a lot from location to location, but I don't know that it's a "challenge". I certainly found plenty of opportunities to shoot wide angle. Currents are not really a major problem at any sites that I've been to, provided of course that the people you're diving with know what they're doing. Currents at R4 sites that I have dived are much less challenging than at some popular sites in north Komodo or Nusa Penida o(ff Bali).


    I'll be in the Ambon/Banda Sea area in October when you plan to be in Raja Empat, but will do a transfer trip to Sorong that ends up there sometime in November. All on the Seven Seas.



  11. I bought a Lowepro Trekker Pro to carry all my gear in. The Trekker pro is the same as the Nature Trekker except that it has two detachable side pouches that I don't use. ....


    Those side pockets on the Trekker Pro can be very useful - each is perfect to take a standard bottle of Bacardi Oro Rum (or equivalent). I also sometimes load all my batteries into one of them to take the weight out of the checked bags.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

    • Like 2

  12. Bonnie,


    I think I may be the person you're thinking of that lives in Bali.


    At present, the only terrestrial wild areas of Komodo National Park open to visitors are the "dragon walks" at Loh Liang and Loh Buaya in the two "Intensive Tourism Zones", one of which is on Komodo Island and the other on Rinca. You probably did one of these when you were on the Dancer.


    There are active plans to open up additional areas in the terrestrial wilderness zones on both Komodo and Rinca islands to multi-day trekking (with guides), but this has not yet materialized, and I can't say with any confidence that arrangements will be in place by the time of your trip next April. It is possible to go ashore at a few locations on some other islands, including Padar.


    I don't know the Adventure Indonesia people you mention in your post, so can't say anything about them, but until the terrestrial wilderness zone is opened to trekking and visitors, I can't easily imagine how they could set up much in way the way of a land tour other than duplicating the usual dragon walks at Loh Liang and Loh Buaya, one of which you have probably already done. You could also check with Greg Heighes at DiveKomodo.com. They now run day trips (mainly diving) into the park, and could probably arrange trips on on a safe boat including the little that can be done and seen in the intensive tourism zone terrestrial areas at this time.


    April is a wonderful time to dive in the park, with warmer and clearer waters in the south. In the north, this is one of the best times to try to catch the large manta aggregation at Karang Makassar, though only a few liveaboard operators know how to do this or try. (It's not guaranteed ever.) April is a beautiful time above water as well - the hills are briefly green. I was there this year and it was spectacular.


    I'm leaving Saturday for another Komodo trip - can't stay away - on The Seven Seas.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  13. I've been in touch with Helen Newman, who confirms that the project is moving ahead.


    I'll be in Komodo next week (from 8-15 July) on the Seven Seas with Mark Heighes, Jos and Lida Pet (plus the adorable Eva and Lara Pet), and a great group of friends and interesting new people - I should be able to find out more about the status of the project then.


    Meanwhile, here's one of the older dive boat mooring buoys in Komodo that needs to be replaced. The diver is Maurice Knight, who works for USAID in Jakarta.




  14. I can't compare the two lenses (18-200 and 24-120) that you are asking about, but sdingeldein's first post above seems to imply that the 24-120 is not a VR lens - it is.


    The 24-120 is my walking around lens - it rarely leaves the camera above water except when I need to go way longer (with the 80-400 VR) or way wider (12-24 or 10.5). The VR is a big part of the reason I love this lens - I can handhold it extended at more than 100 mm focal length in low light. But the main attraction for me is that that the lens seems (to me) relatively distortion free, very sharp, with good color saturation, much superior to the older design 24-85 mm zoom that used to be my standard walking-around lens.


    I've never used the 18-200 VR, but if it really can cover that extreme focal length range without any sacrifice of image quality, then it must be a truly amazing piece of glass.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  15. I'd absolutely endorse John's comments about Raja Empat, which has spectacular dives and incredible biodiversity. And there are flights from Manado to Sorong (daily, I think), so the logistics wouldn't be bad for you. The northern hemisphere summer isn't the optimum season in R4, but might be ok. Max Ammer's place operates year-round, of course, but most of the liveaboards doing R4 operate between November and the end of March, when sea conditions are calmer and the incidence of precipitation and clouds a bit less.


    I've never been to the Togians. Supposed to be interesting, but are rarely visited by divers, especially in recent years. There has been a lot of political unrest and serious violence in central Sulawesi, particularly in the area around Palu. You might be able to reach the Togian's by boat from Gorontalo. I'd be interested to hear what the Togian's are like. Supposed to have spectacular corals, or at least did once upon a time.


    (Note to JB: the Togian islands are located in Tomini Bay, on the eastern side of Sulawesi, formed by the long west-to-east northern arm of Sulawesi and the stubby little arm sticking out towards the Maluku. Not too far from Banggai Island, just a bit south, home of the eponymous Banggai Cardinalfish (Pteropogon kaudemi), supposedly endemic to that island and to the Lembeh Strait, but which has now shown up at Secret Bay in Bali, possibly a result of the commercial trade in aquarium fishes.)


    [A P. kaudemi that is far, far from home]




    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  16. I used 2 x 12 arms on both sides for wide-angle for years, but I'm shifting to 2 x 8. For me, the change is mostly driven by my shift to different strobes.


    I used to use two powerful Ikelite SS200s with wide 100 degree beams. At full power and the right ambient light levels, those strobes will work at distances over 2.5 meter/8 feet for subjects like manta rays and some reefscapes. (The exposure guide on the back of the strobes implies that these strobes will work at 3 meters/10 feet at ISO 100 and f/4.0, though I don't think I ever achieved quite that distance). Anyway, at 8-10 feet, to avoid illuminating crap in the water between the lens and subject with those strobes and their wide 100 degree beams, I really did need more strobe separation than is possible with 8" arm sections. When it all comes together with a wide angle lens and very powerful strobes, longer arms can make it possible to turn medium-vis water into gin (Absolut vodka, whatever).


    My SS200s have never gone more than a year without one of them malfunctioning or dying. When they came back from their last trip to Ohio and back (with a $400+ repair bill receipt attached) eight months ago, one was already dead right out of the box full of foam peanuts before I could even take it on a dive. Living in Indonesia, hassling with equipment that I can't rely on is no longer worth it for me.


    (So - anybody want to buy a couple of powerful strobes, cheap? Honesty requires me to say that I think both of them are absolute lemons, but they are wonderful strobes on those occasions when they are both working. If you live in the US, maybe the breakdown frequency won't matter. Make me an offer.)


    My Inon D200s Sea&Sea YS90DXs don't have anything like the power or spread of the SS200s, but they work, and so far they have kept on working, dive trip after dive trip. (The Inons are pretty new, so that isn't so impressive, but the YS90DXs - originally purchased as a temporary stopgap while my SS200s were on another visit to Ohio - have been going strong for over three years.) With reduced power and narrower beams, I can't shoot from as far away (and with the 10.5 FE on the D2X, I rarely want to anyway). The upshot of moving from Ikelite strobes to the Inons and S&Ss is that the 12 inch arm segments that at one time were central to my style of wide-angle shooting are now irrelevant. 2 x 8 works fine.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  17. The Subal housing for Fuji S2 definitely cannot be retrofitted with the improved viewfinder optics available for some other recent Subal housings. This is very unfortunate. The viewfinder image in the S2 is very small to begin with. Manual focus underwater with the S2 is impossible, and it can be very difficult to see whether the autofocus has locked focus correctly.


    I can't compare the enhanced viewfinder optics in the Subal and Aquatica D2X housings, but I can say that the viewfinder image in the Subal housing with the enhanced optics is excellent - large and very bright, more than enough to allow effective manual focusing on the 105 lens. (I'm happy to use the excellent D2X autofocus all the time for all other lenses.)


    In addition to increasing the cost, the upgraded viewfinder optics add about 2 inches to the Subal housing, which meant a deeper case for travel tthan the S2 housing.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  18. I would guess that when stever writes "Menjamin" he must mean"Menjangan", an island in Bali Barat National Park. I don't know anything about Werner Lau, but I'd question the claim that Menjangan offers the "best diving on the island." It's horses for courses - personally, I like Menjangan well enough once in awhile, but others (including some who participate on this board) don't - find it too boring. It's true that if you've done much diving in the Indo-Pacific, you aren't likely to see anything at Menjangan you haven't seen before, but it's still pretty, and it does have the nicest coral wall diving on Bali. For macro exotica (or even weirdness), many underwater photographers prefer Gilimanuk or Puri Jadi, either or both of which can be combined with Menjangan even on a three day dive itinerary.


    For an informed discussion of all of Bali's dive sites, I highly recommend David Pickett and Wally Siagian's Diving Bali : The Underwater Jewel of Southeast Asia, one of the best dive guides anyone has ever written about anywhere.


    Here are a couple critters from one afternoon at Gilimanuk a few months ago..... (see next post)...


    Painted Dragonet



  19. This is a good project. More mooring buoys are needed in Komodo National Park for sites that don't currently have them, as well as locations where the existing buoys put in by The Nature Conservancy over the past ten years need to be replaced or upgraded to handle some the larger liveaboard dive boats that are coming into the park.


    Helen Newman is a brilliant, experienced, marine biologist who designed and managed the very successful TNC supported program to install permanent mooring buoys around Bali and Nusa Penida a few years ago. These are excellent buoys, consisting of very heavy steel cable threaded through a sealed fibre-glass float and shackled to a heavy stainless steel mooring ring. On the bottom, the cable is attached to a long molly (I think that's the correct term) which in most locations is permanently fixed into in a narrow hole drilled (using an air-operated percussion drill) directly into the dead coral substrate under the sand). This is a difficult operation. (I know that Dr. Alex, Scubadrew and some other wetpixelers have dived with BIDP, who installed many of the buoys around Bali.)


    The heavy cable is unfortunately necessary to ensure that the buoys and hardware are not stolen by fishermen, who recognize their quality. (The end result is an overbuilt mooring probably strong enough to take a US navy frigate in a good blow, but the good news is that the mooring will still be there a year from now, and two years after that. (There had been mooring buoy installation programs in Bali before, but the moorings never stayed in place longer than a year.)


    I don't know if the Komodo moorings will follow exactly the same design and specs as the Bali moorings, but I'm sure they will be of comparable quality and security.


    We divers who visit the park (or who will ever visit the park in the future) are the biggest beneficiaries, as we get to enjoy dives and look at corals on beautiful sites that haven't been torn apart by damage from anchors and anchor chains (see below), so I think it's only appropriate that we all contribute to support this important project.


    The images below shows what happens when there aren't enough mooring buoys.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)





  20. LChan,


    I'm pretty sure this has been discussed at length before, so you might want to do a search.


    My view: I have the 17-35 mm and use it a lot, underwater and above. This is a magical lens. It's not just sharp - colors seem (to me) cleaner and slightly more saturated through this lens, and it seem easier, main subjects 'pop' and landscapes in the right light glow in ways that I really like.


    Underwater , I particularly like to use it for sharks and other animals that I'm not confident that I can approach closely enough with the 10.5 or 12-24 lenses. This is the factor that most people cite, of course. Cranked in to 35, it's roughly the equivalent of a 50 mm lens on a full-frame SLR and can do quite nice fish portraits, etc.


    Another big advantage of the 17-35 is that this is a 2.8 lens. The one stop difference (compared to the f/4 12-24) can sometimes be very important in low/dim lighting wide-angle situations where it's difficult to get a good ambient exposure at f/4, but which aren't suitable for the 10.5 FE (also f/2.8).


    The length of the 17-35 is almost identical to the 12-24, so you should be able to use it with a big dome and the same extension ring (and diopter, if you use one) as the 12-24 mm zoom. I can't remember if the lens takes a different zoom control ring, and that may depend on the housing. (On my Subal D2X housing, the zoom control works slightly better with the 17-35 than the 12-24, which sometimes can slip at depths above 15 meters.


    So. I love this lens, am very glad I have it and use it a lot. Whether I would buy a new full-price 17-35 now, however, is another question. I purchased the 17-35 back in film days, to use as my main wide-angle lens with the F100. This is not a cheap piece of glass. But it's a good one.


    Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

  21. I agree with cdascher that the best bet with the schedule you're on (and with a non-diving spouse), but I doubt that you will want to commute from Jimbaran (extreme south) to Tulamben (northeast) and back every day, though day trips are possible (and one might be tolerable, if there were no alternatives). It would be better to shorten your stay in Jimbaran and relocate to Tulamben. There are several nice places to stay at Tulamben or in the area. In addition to Tauch Terminal, you might also look at Mimpi or Club Seraya. Another possibility, but also requiring relocation to the north, would be Menjangan Island and Secret Bay, in the northwest.


    If relocating to the north doesn't work, then diving at Nusa Penida by boat from Sanur would probably be your best bet. September is right in the middle of mola mola season, and Nusa Penida is where this happens. If you haven't seen molas before, this is pretty spectacular. There is also a very good and reliable manta dive at NP. Like cdascher, I also dive with and highly recommend BIDP - I use them for all diving in Bali, including in the north, though that does rule out staying at places like Tauch Terminal or Seraya, who do not cooperate well with outside dive operators. If you want to stay at either of those places, you would probably have to arrange your diving with them too.



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