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vetdiver

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Everything posted by vetdiver

  1. I don't come on here for a very long time...and then I do and see this question. I'll answer and explain how I view them - please be kind... There are a few reasons I enter competitions. The first might seem silly to some, but it is by far the main reason for me: I dive and shoot with my husband a lot (a longtime pro UW shooter), and he is very skilled - so skilled that sometimes, it can be just painful to see what comes out of his camera (I commonly walk away from his downloads muttering, "I suck!" to myself). However, we work together a lot - both shooting and writing. I could do this and simply work off of his reputation, but I didn't like the way that felt. I wanted to develop my own reputation separately from him; competitions are one way to do that. The second reason is that when I am very fortunate, it can help subsidize my obsession, which is quite pricey . The third is that when it works in my favor, it is a complete and total thrill. The problem? Competitions can be expensive...and there are just so freakin' many of them! Also, they are pretty much a crapshoot. You can enter a photo somewhere and get a huge placement and turn around and enter it somewhere else to not even have it get to the final round of judging. But this is art, and art is subjective, and you never know what the judges will or won't like. I do feel that luck is a big part of every win, whether it takes place in the water or in the judging room or both. Not placing really isn't losing, although I know the feeling and have had to remind myself of this. Competitions are a lot like gambling. As such, I have a budget for competition entries, and I stick to it very strictly. (Some competitions are off-limits because I don't like the rules or reproduction policies. Some are more attractive because I admire the judging panel. But after x dollars have been spent, that is IT for the year.) I assume that I will be donating that money. Sometimes it works out, many times it doesn't, but no matter what, I have learned a lot and feel that I have done at least a little bit to achieve some of major objective #1, at least that's my hope. All that said, I am well aware (as are all savvy photographers) that those entering competitions represent a very, very small subsection of the skilled, fabulous shooters on this earth - most of whom, like you, can't be arsed with it. That is plain fact. Like Tim, I am a huge fan of shootouts - same water, same conditions, same sites, same day, limited processing - that is as pure as it can get in this day and age. I wish there were more of them! Allison
  2. We have been to both places on multiple occasions. The macro/critter life is excellent at both places, and it is true that Anilao is easier to get to from the states. However, in my opinion, Lembeh has the edge in terms of resort quality, conditions, critter density - and especially (sorry, Dustin) wide angle sites. There are sites along the edges of the Strait and the backside of the island that are phenomenal, and there are a couple of nice shipwrecks in the Strait, as well. Steve Williams wrote an article on WP recently about returning to diving after a medical issue, and he posted lovely images as well as a trip video that demonstrate some of Lembeh's W/A. Note - this is a matter of opinion - I know many divers who love Anilao and return often!
  3. Hi - I dove warm water for 10 years before I ever pursued cold water - and I am a wuss like you wouldn't believe. I took my drysuit class north of Boston the week after Thanksgiving when the air and water temps were in the 40's - and I knew the water was cold, I could feel the cold on my face - but once I knew I could handle it, I was fine. If you are willing to accept the additional/different gear (and give yourself time to get used to it), cold water diving is for anyone. Conditions in California can be widely varying, and I think it is fair to say that every dive here is not Bonaire awesome (and may, indeed, involve 10 ft vis) - but you have an incredibly rich environment very close by, and on a good day, absolutely nothing beats a local dive. Bonaire included, IMO
  4. Another vote for Bangka over Bunaken, but I wanted to add something else... My husband and I just ran a great workshop with a small group in Lembeh focusing on wide angle imagery - May of 2013, so we are just home. Lembeh Resort helped us put this together, so they will know where we went and have guides adept in finding wide angle subjects and sites for you (I am sure other ops could do the same, of course). There are FANTASTIC w/a opportunities to be had in and around the Strait, so don't discount it as all macro. Following is a video we made using images from our participants - Andy and I each stuck in about 8 images, as well. http://www.avitsky.com/Underwater/Lembeh-Wide-Open-group-video/29577995_r8ccRh#!i=2529758778&k=xQnnB7M Allison
  5. Hi, Julian - (Sorry for the delay - I tried to reply last week but was having trouble logging in...) Gina is right on about May. In general, IMO, March through May are not ideal in California. Springtime = storms and upwellings, so although we sometimes get great nudibranchs and jellies...they are often in mucky, green water. We dove Catalina a week ago, and although we found pockets of decent vis, it was not great by any stretch of the imagination, maybe 40 ft max at one site; I heard that wreck alley had 10 ft vis max on the same weekend. We also dove twice in La Jolla over the past week, but San Diego's been experiencing a south swell, so we've had weird currents and less than optimal visibility. San Clemente Island is consistently good and can range to incredible, but the biggest issue this time of year is the crossing - you need calm seas. If it's iffy, you can cross to find yourself trapped in one lame anchorage for the whole trip. The oil rigs are one of my favorite So Cal sites, but I try to avoid diving them between February and about July simply because I can - I've experienced worse visibility and current in the spring than any other time of year - the rigs are daunting on a good day, and on a 15 ft vis day with a 1+ kt current and/or lots of surge, it is tough to see what the fuss is about. In short - while the weather/vis here is always hit or miss, if you can plan a trip for August through October, you're giving yourself the best chance to get a great day. For San Diego, we love Waterhorse Charters for the wrecks/day trips. For San Clemente, if you can do a multiday, Horizon out of San Diego is a nice boat; if you're farther north, check the Sundiver (out of San Pedro) schedule to see if they are running to SC and/or Santa Barbara. For the oil rigs, Catalina (including Farnsworth), and even day trips to San Clemente, we use Selky Charters (out of Huntington Beach). This is a six pack operation with no compressor on board, and you'll have to prearrange any gear needs (including tanks/weights), but the captain will tailor to your wants/needs - book ahead, as she is in demand. The Sea Bass (out of San Pedro) also runs rigs and Catalina day trips, and they have a compressor on board (EANx was being fixed last time we were on, but he should have it running by now). Hope this helps you plan future visits - California is incredible, even with the hit-or-miss nature - keep coming back, it is worth it! Hope you enjoy Point Lobos - what an incredible site. Allison
  6. Bob - I see your point...but I will say that many women I know tend to get colder than men on the same dives. I can't speak for Fletcher, though I can tell you I've been in the water with her, and she uses top-quality gear that fits her well. However - for myself - I have used lots of different suits and undergarments for lots of different types of dives, and I see the heated vest for my current diving not as a crutch, but as a tool that allows me to be far more comfortable without adding more bulk. I am already carrying around 75% of my body weight when I get in for an average dive, and more lead to sink thicker undies is not an appealing proposition. Just my 2 cents from a woman's perspective. Fletcher, don't know if we'll see you before June, but if so, you're welcome to try my vest on. Love that thing. They say 4 hours on high - I was using it for 3 x 70 minute dives in South Komodo just fine (medium intensity), and I have used it on 2 x 90-95 minute CCR dive days in California (low and medium)on several occasions. I did have to replace the batteries recently, but I use the vest 2 days a week on average, and up to 7 when travelling. Allison PS - Adam, I remember you mentioned those gloves to me previously....I need to get a pair!!!
  7. Fletcher, I have been using a Thermalution vest since last July. It can be used under a wetsuit or drysuit, so it is with me on all my local dives, as well as many of my warm-water trips. I do tend to add time to my safety stops for added safety. Worth noting: the wireless transmitter is best used topside - before entry - as the transmission doesn't work as well in water. I've done it, but you really have to get the transmitter close to the receiver, which will be on your back. Tricky, especially in a drysuit! Anyways, I love (LOVE) that vest, love it. It was worth every penny. By the way, if you're going to the Scuba Show, the Thermalution people tend to discount about $100 if you buy it on-site. I about knocked the table over running to pass them them my credit card last year. Allison
  8. Another vote for Grenada here - absolutely mindblowing, lush and beautiful both topside and underwater. I believe the wind starts to come up around the end of December, but that won't affect your ability to get to many of the Caribbean-side reefs and wrecks.
  9. Steve - I'm so hoping we can come up for your talk!!! Those mid-week drives to LA are harsh, though. Please let us know how long you'll be in So Cal - maybe you could be persuaded to give a repeat presentation in Lembeh? Now, to answer your question with a local respnse. My eye has been on the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach. I visited the veterinarian there recently, and I wound up staying and helping out for hours - poor Andy maybe got a bit more than he was expecting going behind the scenes with me... The PMMC has been inundated this spring with malnourished pups (mainly sea lions, but they had a pen with recuperating baby elephant seals, as well), and they have very few paid employees - many workers are passionate volunteers. Some of the animals need round-the-clock care, and they are doing everything on a shoestring budget. I've donated money, and going forward, I'll be donating professional time as well. I really hope to see you this month! Allison
  10. I love this thread - Pam Murph, your image is lovely, and I love the humor of the model's Mickey ears! This year, after 20 years of diving open circuit, I got certified to dive on a closed-circuit rebreather. My class was at the beginning of July, and I had to put aside my camera for a while afterwards so I could become comfortable with new buoyancy and other skills. The first day I took my camera back out, I was pretty nervous; I could hardly shoot for constantly checking my pO2. That dive day coincided with what we in Southern California see as a nearly annual event - an influx of jellyfish that come in briefly, then disappear. This year's jelly was a pretty uncommon one, the black sea nettle. (I had only seen one of these before, years ago, and it was pretty beaten up.) Seeing tens of them in the water column on this day was incredible. We brought some friends out to shoot them 2 days later, and the vis and jelly numbers had dropped precipitously. This image was my favorite of the year because it was the first real encounter I'd had with these creatures...and most of all because it was my first day getting used to diving a rebreather with my camera in hand. I didn't take many photos, but because there weren't a bunch of exhalation bubbles, I got a few keepers anyways. Here's to great diving and successful shooting in 2013!!
  11. Hi, all - We have only a couple of remaining spots for this intensive workshop in May 2013, intended to help serious underwater shooters become more comfortable with pursuing wide angle photography wherever they are, whatever conditions they encounter. Lembeh has always been known for amazing critter life, but its wide angle often goes unsung. We're planning to change that! Andy and I traveled to Lembeh last spring specifically to scout out the best wide angle opportunities in Lembeh - egg-laying squid, curious cuttlefish, soft-coral laden reefs, and some incredible shipwrecks - and we can't wait to show them off. As far as the macro goes? Well, there is a reason everyplace else is compared to Lembeh This exclusive trip is only open to a very small group so there is plenty of opportunity for learning and interaction. Every other day, divers will have the opportunity to pursue wide-angle photography at these sites on limited-load boats, with plenty of time remaining to photograph amazing macro and critter life. We'll be giving breakfast seminars several times during the trip, as well - subjects will include close-focus wide angle and underwater modeling, among others. Only $2500 (per person, double occupancy) covers 9 nights in an ocean view room the luxurious Lembeh Resort, 3 limited-load boat dives daily, unlimited shore diving, photo seminars, all meals, and transfers to and from the airport in Manado. Alcohol, gratuities, and flights to and from Manado are not included. A nonrefundable deposit of $850 holds your spot. For more information, check out the links below or email andy@seait.com http://www.seait.com...alty-dive-tours http://www.lembehres...may-13-22-2013/ Allison Vitsky Sallmon and Andy Sallmon
  12. Minsk, I totally understand. We did a 2-day trip to Santa Cruz Island (California) a couple of weeks ago, and we stopped at a site known for neosimniae. These feed/lay eggs on red gorgonians and can make great images, but they aren't all that common here and you have to be patient and look for the right one(s) over many dives - they often sit at the innermost portions of the fan and are facing in, so the most common shots are "butt shots", if you will. Anyways, looking around the site, we saw that about 10 fans had been totally ripped off the rocks. We mentioned it to the captain, and he was really upset - turns out that the last group of divers here were on an organized photography trip. I thought my husband was going to blow a gasket. There are a lot of people carrying photo gear out there who aren't really divers (as in, they don't see themselves as fortunate visitors). They can call themselves such, they can win prizes, they can get pictures out for the world to see, they can have the biggest camera under the sun...but if they are not really divers, they'll never understand what the problem is with acting this way. It's terribly sad.
  13. I encouraged my husband (Andy Sallmon) to respond - he wanted to, but he is on the road today (working - see a theme?) and asked me to put in a bit about him. He started diving back in '79 and was an instructor by '80 - and diving all the time (and with a camera) even when he wasn't teaching. Years later, he found he was making quite a bit of money from images, so he started saving up for his dream. He quit his day job and went pro back in the '90's, thinking at the time that he'd maybe get a year or two of time before he had to go back to a cubicle - and as Walt describes, it was a different world. I know that Andy made a lot more of his actual income from photos then - fewer people pursued it, and as film was the medium, it made improving rapidly much more difficult. He added sales repping for several underwater imaging companies to the mix after a few years, and certainly, that is the majority of his income - but from my standpoint, it counts. While I am at work talking about science, Andy is at work, talking about diving, underwater photography techniques, and gear. It cracks me up to come home and walk into his office and listen to his "work" discussions! Gear sales have changed in recent years, though, too - there is less money to go around. His hours are long - he definitely works much longer/harder than I do, and his work does not stop on Friday afternoon at 5 or 6 pm. There have been times that he gets an offer to do an assignment or a shoot, and plans will have to change in an instant - which can stink. Also, he does get to travel to some amazing places, but having seen what it takes to run a trip, I can assure you - it is hard work (I recall a trip last year - we were both jetlagged zombies, and he was trying to put together a passenger's gear, which had been (a) flooded and (b) additionally damaged - I think there was a pin sheared off from the sync port - and he stayed up for hours getting it to work while I went to bed and collapsed). Not a dreamy vacation by anyone's standards. I think some of what makes it work for him, aside from his unstoppable work ethic, is the fact that he truly, truly loves diving and the ocean - we are always diving, even when the conditions stink, and he is always shooting, even on days that the conditions are so appalling that I refuse to bother. If I leave him alone on a boat for 10 minutes, I always come back to find him discussing diving and/or photogrpahy with another passenger, and he always tries to ensure that he comes away with a new contact - if for no other reason than we have someone new to split a local charter with us. He has maintained a lot of relationships from years in the industry, which sometimes brings him business from unexpected sources. He also has to be willing to shoot things that aren't terribly exciting, and he has to be enthusiastic and kind about doing so. The final thing - Alex touched on this - is budgeting. Andy doesn't just run out and buy gear or even a new pair of flip flops on a whim. Everything is carefully considered, even when he has a few great months. You never know when money is coming in, and sometimes, invoices must be sent over and over and over... It blows my mind. The sporadic nature of his income would never work for me, I'd be a total stress case. I think having home support is a factor, too, though maybe it's not primary - I do think it's helped that I'm a freak about diving and photography, as well - we bounce ideas off of each other and it's more fun to do presentations together, we're more prolific with articles as a team, and I hope it makes it easier when I can manage to be understanding about last-minute solo trips to places that I'd love to go...at the end of the day, this is his primary work and not mine. I'll ask Andy to check this later and make sure I've got it all in here - oh, the one other thing he did mention was not giving work away for free - other than the occasional donation, compensation for work is critical. This is something that all of us must uphold...but I think Tony Wu has discussed this best on his blog, so I'll leave it at that. Allison
  14. (OT of initial question) Alex, I enjoyed reading your response, in part because I have so much respect for your photographic curiousity and ability (warm water! cold water! macro! wide! wrecks, sharks, reefs, dogs....he can do it all, folks!), but also because I am always interested in reading your excellent writing - which I feel is an important part of who you are as an artist. You and Steve touch on something you (both) do that is incredibly important - work hard. I am always amazed at the number of photos and articles you create - and you're doing this while while constantly diving/creating new images, improving your work and teaching others while leading trips Your success is wonderful to watch for those of us who love diving and photography but will never give up our "day jobs". Now, back to my day job (which I fortunately love).
  15. Hi, My husband and I recently wrote a photo-based (but applicable to all divers!) article on the wide-angle/reefscape possibilities in Lembeh - it's in the current issue of TTL. Certainly, the macro/muck is absolutely phenomenal at Lembeh - however, as several other posters have stated, Lembeh is not just muck and sand by a long stretch! There are gorgeous soft-coral-covered wrecks and lovely reefscapes to be viewed both within the Strait and just outside. You simply have to do your research before you go and communicate with your dive operation to ensure you can get to these sites...and I know for a fact that Lembeh Resort/Critters @ Lembeh can and will get you there I hope you have a wonderful trip, and many congratulations on your competition win! Allison
  16. So sad to hear of any diver's death, regardless of cause. Stoo, thanks for putting this warning out. I do want to just state that relatively low-ppO2 tox hits can and do happen, though there is not that much information out there about them - I had one in January (1.46 ata - and I had matched/exceeded this ppO2 hundreds of times in harsher conditions). This is not the place to go into detail, but the physician I consulted with told me that this ppO2 was absolutely adequate to cause acute O2 toxicity; it was not that difficult to find another diver or two with similar experiences. I urge you all to be careful and conservative.
  17. Wait, I have a yacht??? I have the feeling you are confusing me with someone in a different tax bracket!!! We are shore or charter (we do small 4-diver charters with Yellow Boat quite a bit)...but maybe some day if we stop flying back and forth to the Indopacific every few months. If you ever want to go out around here, we are always game and looking to split charter costs - anytime. GREAT video - this being the whole point of the thread, after all. Allison
  18. I fail to see the problem here. Andy and I dove the Cove just this morning, Steve! (I am totally lying. At least it looks like we'll have some reasonable conditions for next weekend - but just like this time last year and the year before, I have found that I am using my running shoes more than my drysuit. Feh.) Allison
  19. One other thing - should mention that we now have 2 friends (one male, one female) diving the new Bare drysuits - I believe it is the SB system - RAVE reviews so far from both divers, and they look really awesome. My girlfriend is a very experienced diver who has used DUI, Whites, and Bare, and she couldn't stop going on and on about this suit. Lightweight and stretchy, and a very flexible, unusual flat (??) zipper. My only concern would be the zipper - how long will it last compared to a more standard zipper, and what is the cost to replace..? Certainly the latter information could be acquired right away, but the former question might require some time to get a non-manufacturer reply Allison
  20. I currently have 3 DUI dry suits - a CF200 (mainly used back when I dove in New England years ago), a TLS350, and a FLX Extreme. I previously owned a Bare suit, but it didn't fit me as well as DUI's stuff. I can highly recommend DUI, and I especially recommend you look at the FLX Extreme (a reinforced trilaminate that dries as quickly as a TLS). I got it in spring of 2011 and have put over 200 dives on it...it is the best suit I've owned. Keep in mind that I am biased towards DUI because I live in San Diego about 5 miles from the service center...but also because I regularly see one or more of their employees (at all levels of the company) diving locally. It wasn't long ago that we were diving a wreck on the Mexican border and surfaced to discover a few of them waiting for us to pull anchor. Best, and good luck - as with all dive gear, it takes some time and experience to decide what works best for you Allison
  21. Amazing stuff, everyone!!! I waited to post and am glad I did!!! Every Xmas, when our respective work sites are slow, my fiance and I do what we call our "holiday dive-a-palooza" - as conditions allow, we basically dive our brains out. This year, we have been to several warm water destinations, but my favorite shots always come from local Californa dives. This December we had a pretty intense squid run both locally in San Diego, as well as in some of the Catalina kelp forests, and we were able to see both - the latter is really uncommon to see in any intensity, so it was absolutely mindblowing. This photo was taken on Dec 23, and it is maybe one of my favorites ever. In truth, I was so blown away by the whole experience that day that I spent half the dive watching NOT through a viewfinder! I feel lucky to have been able to experience this It always means so much to me to see so many gorgeous shots from near and far - I love knowing that there are so many of us out there who are similarly obsessed. Happy new year, everyone - wishing you all an amazing one! Allison
  22. Hi, Mark - My fiance and I have used 8-15 mm lenses since September. Dive sites have included the Solomons, Curacao, and our local CA waters, and my guess would be that we've done at least 60 w/a dives in that time. We have two housed Canon 7Ds and a housed 5D MkII between us, and since we almost always dive as a team, to us, this lens is very versatile! On a 7D, it is our opinion (as demonstrated by Ryan at Reef Photo et al) that this lens is sharper than the Tokina, and has almost the same zoom range (you will be limited a bit in comparison, but not much). It has given us beautiful results so far, and I very rarely zoomed my Tokina much anyways, so it's been a nonissue. Since I got my 8-15, I have only used my Tokina once, and that was because I wanted the zoom flexibility during a particular dive and didn't have a zoom gear compatible with the housing I was using for my 7D. Just in case you ever plan on diving a full frame, I'll add this, too... While the circular aspect is a bit - well - gimmicky at times, it can work very well to create beautiful, incredibly unique images with certain subjects. I believe Alex Mustard has said here before that he sees this lens on a full-frame camera as either an 8 mm or a 15 mm lens, and I agree. Since my UW option on the 5D right now is a 15 mm FE, that's no biggie. We're still figuring it out at 8 mm - it does seem that there is a bit of chromatic aberration (with OUR gear) at the 8 mm end, but it isn't noticeable unless you really magnify your image and is easily fixed with a slider in Lightroom. We haven't done any detailed comparisons yet between the 8-15 at 15 and the Canon 15 mm FE - I haven't personally noticed any difference, and I haven't put the 15 mm FE back on since I bought my 8-15! If you have the money, I'd go with the 8-15, but you could always start with the Tokina and upgrade later. The Tokina is an awesome lens! Good luck with your decision - Allison Edit - you posted just as I wrote this - congrats on your new "baby" - enjoy it!
  23. Oh so very JEALOUS of everyone's amazing finds and resultant phenomenal shots!!! Loved the video, although I was disappointed that it didn't contain a reprise of "Poker Face" Allison
  24. Heh heh, make it up to us by going diving soon We discussed this thread at home last night over a beer, and our conclusion was - this is why we both enjoy shootout competitions!!!
  25. Bill, Since I know you guys have had to deal with some obvious cheating issues in years past, I hope you know that your good intentions and hard work are appreciated by everyone. I wish your job was easier, but from my standpoint - it certainly makes it easier to get ones' butt kicked in a competition when one knows the winners were examined closely! Lots of competitions/categories ask for RAW files from finalists - and I think this is a good thing. R.e. the question - is it possible for temperate water shots to compete with warm water shots?? YES, absolutely - especially when the judges are familiar with the degree of difficulty involved, but it's my opinion that temperate water shots may be more unique to the viewers sometimes. I have had more competition success with cold than warm water shots - although most of my diving is in local cold water, so volume plays a big part, as well. It is virtually impossible to remove all the backscatter from most California shots (and I lack the patience, anyways!), so on bad days, we simply practice for the days when there is less stuff in the water. Finally - as someone who both models and shoots a model - don't forget that sometimes, the model is a guy holding a light Allison
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