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Everything posted by Fontaine

  1. We used Mermaid II, they were excellent but our Indonesian guide was a bit strange, most of the time he wasnt leading the dive and he didnt point much out, and then on night dives would go ballistic about a decorator crab.... At one point he had a big piece of loose coral in his hands the size of a bowling ball that he picked up and just dropped for some reason, then managed to get a fish and pierce it onto his pointer like he was skewering it for a BBQ, he then swam off with it for no apparent reason whatsoever, it was unfortunate because the other guides were excellent. Other then our strange guide, everything was great, we had our two kids with us and they were looked after very well and enjoyed themselves, food was excellent, boat was clean, and everything ran smoothly and safely. Also there was only 10 diving guests which made it nice and roomy.
  2. Hello, just had an amzing trip in Komodo, some of my top dives for sure and got lots of WA practice which was nice, heres some of my best shots, the rest can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fontainedento...57628907375437/ This last one looks better in its large size, you can clearly see a Sea Hare with its two eyes in focus on the mouth of the big Nudi!
  3. At the end of the day its like Naomi says, its not about reducing our carbon footprint or changing governments, its about completely revolutionizing the basis of our civilization, our kids are going to be living in a very different world then us, and it could be scary... I just think some common sense is in order, ie localizing food production and using more sustainable energy and consuming less would be a good step forward, change is possible, its just a matter of how shitty the world is going to get in the meantime... Unfortunately for China and India theres not enough room in the world for them to achieve the western standard of living, sad but true... Free market capitalism IMHO is a myth, and america needs to get over the fact that big corporate interest are not steering our world in the right direction.
  4. Woops, I got my brands mixed up, it was the Aquatica I was referring to not Nauticam, I havent looked into Nauticam housings...
  5. Thanks very much for the comments Pam, really appreciate it!!! And thanks for the advice on the cropping!
  6. Am I correct in thinking that if you add an extension tube they will autofocus with the new 60mm AF-S?
  7. Im a newbie to UW photography and have just started shooting in manual and have ben trying to learn the basics this year, I have finally got my set up geared for WA and macro, I am really loving it and very addicted, im looking forward to many more years of UW photography to come! Heres my favorite, for the year, its probably the best shot I have ever taken, the composition seems good, its pleasing to the eye, the exposure was right, and the photo didnt need much editing at all, not to mention the subject was a fast moving fish, add to that it was my first dive shooting in manual so I was pleased! I know its not much but for me its a good start!
  8. Heres a good and long article by Naomi Klein about why right wing idealists are so adamant that climate change is a myth and what it means for our economic ideologies if we want to get serious about slowing global warming. Its a good read. http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/ca...limate?page=0,0
  9. Scary indeed!! And I mostly agree with everything you said. People need to think for themselves too and not just blindly trust certifying agencies to do the right thing, and to not scrape by on the bare minimum b/c thats what their budget allows, the only problem with that is your trusting people to be rational. I think PADIs intentions are good, and the OW course is more suitable for warm water, clear viz, low current type diving, and that if as an individual you want to start doing cold water, heavy current, low viz or deeper (who wants to do that anyway hehehe) type diving then you should definitely be required to do the specialties, advanced course, and rescue course as standard, i feel that all of my students by the time they have done the rescue course are able, well prepared divers. But again that goes back to the whole bad instructor thing and PADIs poor QA/QC management. Thanks for the informative reply!
  10. 1- yes it was a hypothetical letter when i wrote it 6 years ago, but after I read it yesterday i decided to actually send it, looking forward to see if they reply 2- i would never expect PADI to revoke a license over fish feeding, but blatantly breaking safety standards at least deserves a warning letter, or some in person QC... 3- thanks for your analysis Ive done maybe 1000 dives where Chubs were present at some point and never witnessed any sort of aggressive behavior except for the one dive when they had been fed recently, damsel fish and triggers are another story... I didnt ascribe any emotion with the chubs nibbling at me so I dont really understand your last comment... If PADI did hypothetically yank GTDS credentials then yes I do think they would change their ways, everybody wants their "PADI" not their Open Scuba Cert, its a brand people have come to know and recognize and that has value. Its just ridiculous to me that a dive center that pumps out hundreds of instructors a year is allowed to be so lax in its safety standards and environmental ethics , and when you go diving with the American residents on Guam (who were mostly trained in Guam by GTDS) you quickly see that the whole diving culture there is completely screwed up, one of the favorite activities by the "experienced locals" is taking plastic ziplock bags in their BCD pockets, which they then fill with slow moving invertebrates for their personal saltwater aquariums at home, for some reason that doesnt seem quite right!!! I am not a dive nazi and this does not keep me awake at night, I just thought it would be nice to share my "crazy" experiences in Guam with the online community.
  11. I think that the instructors who taught them to dive are also largely to blame, when I used to teach diving I always made a big effort to educate my students about the UW world and why touching, feeding etc was bad, and I always put a huge emphasis on proper weighting and buoyancy. If divers are exposed to feeding, bad buoyancy, etc from the get go then they probably have no idea that this kind of behavior is unacceptable to begin with. But yes I certainly dont think its the guides fault (obviously thats circumstantial), many dive destinations are in the third world and its often times every man women and child for themselves, if they see an opportunity to make a bigger tip then I certainly dont blame them for trying to take advantage, it certainly is up to us as divers not to put up with it, its also up to us to tip guides who do a good job!!! and the dive shops need to get together, establish a marine park in the area and create ground rules, this approach works very well and with a few motivated individuals can be done (im not trying to imply that this has not been done in Lembeh, but if it hasnt it should be). Roatan is an extremely good example of how the local dive shops and individuals can get together and make a big difference.
  12. I have a Sea and Sea RDX for my 500D and personally I wish I would have gone with nauticam, although I dont think the housing was available when I made my purchase. Why? Because it comes with handles and a leak detector standard, just the handles for my RDX housing cost 300 bucks, also the Nauticam is a smaller aluminum housing which is more ergonomic and its a whole lot easier to buy ports for various lenses with nauticam then it is Sea and sea. The Tokina 10-17mm is the most popular UW lens and just trying to figure out which port to get for my RDX was like doing chinese algebra, youd think theyd make it easier for you... Anyway I ended up having to get a Nauticam port to use on my RDX housing for the 10-17. Now im looking at getting a super macro option using a TC 1.4x on my 60mm and it is a nightmare with sea and sea....
  13. Heres a helpful link. Basically yes the Canon is definitely better if you can afford it. http://www.reefphoto.com/kb.php?id=30
  14. You most definitely want to take a liveaboard in Palau, the dive sites are far (an hour at least) and Peleliu is not accesible by "mainland" land based shops, and to beat the crowds and dive the best conditions you need to be on a LA. OR an even better option is to stay on Peleliu and use Peleliu divers as your land based option, Peleleiu has without a doubt some of the best diving in the world and is the top spot in Palau IMHO, even the LAs cant access Peleliu on every trip. post edit: its been awhile since i was in palau so my memories may not be totally correct and I never dived with any landbased option in Peleleiu, just something worth looking into.
  15. I just posted a rant I wrote a few years ago in "Crazy Dive Stories" titled "Dear PADI", it talks about my fish feeding experiences in Guam in detail and the other ridiculous antics which happen on a daily basis, check it out!
  16. This is something I wrote a few years ago about my diving experiences in Guam, basically its a critique of Guam diving culture and PADIs sponsorship of it.... Dear PADI, Having traveled the world working as a PADI instructor I have fallen in love with diving and the underwater world. Starting my journey in Roatan, Bay Islands of Honduras I was eighteen years old and did not have the slightest idea of what diving was all about except for the fact that I knew I would love it. I spent sixteen months in Roatan accumulating masses of dives, working for various shops, encountering all types of underwater creatures from Blennys to Whale Sharks and progressed to become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI). I grew up at the beach surfing and have always had an immense amount of respect and love for the outdoors and a special passion for our aquatic realms. I have great respect for the level of instructing, safety and environmentally friendly diving practices that most of the dive shops advocate and abide by in Roatan. These rules are simple and make a lot of sense and on paper concur with what PADI stands for, to name a few general rules; "leave only bubbles, take only pictures", "do not touch anything", and "no feeding the fish". After becoming slightly bored with the relatively bland diving in Roatan (when compared to the tropical Indo-Pacific), my partner and I decided to fly to the Pacific and found ourselves in Guam. Whilst working at Guam Tropical Dive Station (GTDS) an accredited "PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre" I encountered a different sort of diving culture which left me in shock and awe. As an instructor at GTDS my job included, leading fun dives, doing Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) and other courses, guiding the snorkel tours and helping with the banana boating. My least favorite task was instructing the DSD experience GTDS style, this includes walking across coral reef that extends out 200 metres to a waste high depth where I would then brief my students, the four students would then grasp my dive float as I literally pulled all four out to the feeding site, each DSD would then come down the rope and kneel on the bottom at which point the instructor hands out frozen hot dogs and a feeding frenzy would ensue. This obsession with feeding the fish was not a personal choice, it was a job requirement, when I expressed my dismay about feeding the fish I was told I had to do it, feeding the fish is a GTDS obsession. GTDS also offers fun dives ("fun" is an interesting way to describe it), in which the boat is loaded with fourteen "fun" divers, most of whom have no diving experience other then the OW course (at least on paper) or the DSD "experience", these fourteen novices were only guided by two dive masters on a good day. Watching the swathe of Japanese tourists attempting to put their gear together was scarily amusing, it was common to see people thoroughly confused when trying to figure out what went wrong with the set up, with my ever lasting PADI patience I would show them that they had their BCD upside down and backwards and usually the same was wrong with their regulator. I say "scary" because we are about to do a deep dive through "Blue Hole" which goes down to 130 feet plus...way plus, one could descend into the bottomless abyss of the Mariana Trench (deepest trench in the entire ocean) as it literally lies 10,911 meters or 35,798 feet or 6.78 miles below the dive site. With my own eyes I have seen the long time Dive Master (DM) at GTDS taking DSD divers through the Blue Hole at nearly 140 feet, it is of sheer amazement to me how none of these divers have ended up at the bottom of the trench nearly seven miles below (one or two probably have). After going through the "Hole" I realize that the circus is only beginning and that things are obviously getting very boring and we need to do some fish feeding. Watching Moray Eels swim from about 100 feet away through an entire group of novice divers on the scent path of a hotdog in the DMs pocket is convincing testimony to Morays astronomical sense of smell, when considering how sharp Morays teeth are, how keen their sense of smell is, how poor their eyesight is, and most importantly how similar a human finger looks to a hot dog, then one can only picture the hazard to the feeder. Now the second dive is when things got really fun. Picture a once amazing, now mediocre and significantly damaged seamount of coral reef about 200 meters wide by 300 meters long in a big oval at about 18 meters depth. This reef was encircled with reef balls, not for the purposes that are usually attributed to reef balls which usually consist of; reconstructing damaged coral reefs, providing a dive site for a desolate sandy bottom, or to provide homes for poor homeless fish who have been evicted out of their homes due to the recent housing crisis. No the sole purpose of reef balls in Guam is to provide a convenient mooring for floating mesh bags which one can fill with "fish food" a.k.a. chum (which attract massive Jacks who were known to have become aggressive biters), probably consisting of frozen hot dogs and any discarded human fingers found from the previous dive. Incidentally the reef balls also make perfect homes for the Giant Moray. We all descend onto the reef, then the "divers" who do not really know how to swim (much less dive) proceed to do the reef crawl and grasp healthy corals and crawl their way along the reef following the ring master, I mean dive master, who then stops at a reef ball and with his magic metal wand puts pieces of hot dog on the end and antagonizes the Giant Moray into snapping for the hotdogs, then after feeding him a few pieces and pissing him off properly goes ahead and decides that its a good idea to pick the Moray up and lay him across his shoulders, like its his very own pet Python, you can imagine the look of amazement on the fourteen Japanese coral crunchers. At this point I am throwing up in my mouth with disgust at the sheer and utter lack of respect for an amazing eco-system which is literally disappearing in front of our eyes all for the sake of impressing some inept Japanese sponge smashers for a few seconds. This is not all folks, I come up from the dive to find Nemo a.k.a. a Clown Fish in a bucket which the other DM had caught somehow, have we learned nothing from "Finding Nemo". The boat captain and mate are seen spear fishing whilst we are doing our safety stop, with their catch tied to their wastes (this is a regular occurrence which happens at every opportunity and is very hush hush, did you know the vast majority of shark attacks on divers happen to spear fishers, which has happened in Guam more then once), need I say more!!! This is all coming from a "respected accredited PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center". This place turns out lots of instructors and it makes me sick to my stomach to think what kind of example they are setting for their students around the world. Its not just GTDS either the other PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center on the island is just as bad. Feeding fish angers me because it upsets the natural balance of things, you are feeding fish hot dogs who usually eat algae, reeking havoc not only on the fishes digestive systems but also on the coral life itself. Coral is in constant competition with algae, if the algae grows over the coral then it can not produce food from the sun (most corals receive 90% of their nutrients from the sunlight), if the fish are not eating the algae then it grows out of control and suffocates the coral it smothers. Have you ever seen an algal reef? Ever seen a thriving coral reef? Then you should know why feeding fish is an atrocity (unless you are blind or brain dead), not to mention the potential for lost fingers (which has happened in Guam), and the increased risk of shark attack as your invoking a feeding frenzy which naturally attracts larger and more potentially life threatening predators in their feeding mode. I love sharks and have seen hundreds in the water at a time whilst working in Palau onboard the Palau Aggressor, however its totally different when you see a shark by natural occurence and when you see a shark because it has been attracted by frenzied feeding and an empty stomach. Feeding fish also makes the fish relate humans to food, I have been full on attacked by schools of Chubs in Roatan because they were expecting a free meal and I did not have one to give. One can only wonder how long it takes, if ever, for the fish to go back into normal feeding patterns. Now I am only talking about hot dogs and Butterflyfish, when you take it to the next level to Tuna heads and Bull Sharks you are on another level that is wrong for the exact same reasons but indefinitely more hazardous and potentially life threatening, not just to the ill deserving humans, but to the healthy existence of a species, in this case the already severely depleted species of sharks as a whole. Now the Captain of the boat spear fishing with the mate whilst divers are in the water is especially disconcerting, what happens if the anchor goes loose and the dive boat goes adrift? What if your spear fishing attracts nearby Tiger Sharks? What happens if the Captain accidentally mistakes the Japanese DSD for a Trigger Fish? PADI, its about setting the example for a safe, sustainable, healthy relationship between humans and the underwater world, by letting dive shops such as GTDS use your name and also allowing them to teach future instructors under the PADI name shows that you are no better then the host dive shop, the buck stops with you and you should take responsibility. I cant believe that in your OW video you have an Instructor holding a Sea Urchin which is a poisonous spiny animal and at the same time tell your students "do not touch it if you do not know what it is", how about you tell them not to touch ANYTHING!!!! I know what a Touch Me Not sponge looks like but does that mean its a good idea to pick it up only to go into anaphylactic shock! Your pictures in PADI dive magazines never cease to amaze me either, why in the world do your dive models insist on breathing off of their conspicuously marked alternate air sources? Why are their gauges always hanging out? Why are they always touching the marine life? Please I beg you as a PADI diver, clean up your image and do some policing of the shops you endorse because the situation has gotten out of hand, a good place to start would be Guam Tropical Dive Station (www.gtds.com), next stop Canary Islands, then I would suggest doing a full tour of Thailand. In three months I will be available to become your first PADI Police officer (although I would prefer to police Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea), my wife would gladly join me as well. We are not looking to shut operations down or to decrease your revenue, we are looking to enrich your image in the name of environmental sustainability and safety and to provide insight and education to errant dive shops. We will even work for free only expecting all of our costs to be covered. Thankfully my wife and I implemented our beliefs and diving practices while working at GTDS (in fact in every shop we have ever worked in, across the globe) and proved that you do not need to feed fish and that you can actually teach your DSDs how to dive for themselves rather then dragging them about the reef and still make money, funnily enough the customers always had rave reviews about us and went away happier, more confident, more knowledgable, and more likely to continue there diving careers when compared to learning by way of the GTDS diving doctrine. I know we will not be able to enforce good diving practices on every shop in the world, how about we start with all PADI 5 Star IDC Centers. I know that most shops set a fantastic example for their customers but many as I have shown do not. I would ask you PADI, do you agree? I have had similar experiences at other dive shops all over the world which host Instructor Development Courses, it is atrocious to see that you do not police your organization better. Your name is being smeared in the mud by dive shops such as GTDS. I would suggest that you hire people such as myself to travel the world diving with suspect operations to see if they project the PADI image properly by way of sufficient environmental and safety standards. I look to you PADI, to clean your act up and to get the basics down. Happy Bubbles, Fontaine Denton PADI OWSI #192474
  17. $1,000 bucks a night, no thanks!!! I am actually trying to get on the Mermaid II to Komodo right now, they have a nanny onboard and am getting a separate room for the kids and nanny, still works out cheaper then wakatobi. Sorry I dont want to wait 10 years to dive Komodo properly, gonna have to go ahead and give it a try, our kids are young enough that they are still easily occupied and they are very well behaved, not to mention super cute which helps, we will see how it goes. You know what they say, you dont know until you go! FYI are kids are 3 years old and 10 months old, probably better to take them at this age then when they are 7...
  18. IMHO I wouldn't dare to take my diving housing to a surf break, unless it was a reef break that had a clear channel and I was going to be some distance away. but this isnt a good option either as in order to get good shots you need to be right in the impact zone and as close as possible. If I were you I would just buy a surf housing, they are relatively inexpensive compared to diving housings, around 1,000USD for housing and port and they are bomb proof, a much better option then risking a flooded camera or severely damaged dome port.
  19. Since the post was brought back to life I thought I would add an image that I am proud of that I somehow overlooked from this same dive
  20. Theres an incredibly good book out called "Merchants of Doubt" all about how the right have fought to discredit certain issues using slimy PR experts and dodgy scientists, from the Tobacco industry in the 1950's to global warming now, and lots in-between, its an excellent read. After reading it I am extremely pessimistic of anything that comes out in the media. Anyway my point is that this is probably a politically motivated move and it stinks, either that or Discovery thinks Americans don't have the stomach for reality. Read the book, its awesome!
  21. I lived in Roatan from 2003 till 2006, i absolutely loved it! I went to Utila as well for about a week. Utila has a paved road all along the beach and you cant really see the ocean while your walking down the street (not my idea of paradise), however Roatan has a lovely beach road going all the way along west end which has really ideallic picturesque beaches along the way. The diving in Roatan is awesome, lots of walls, swim throughs, caves, good deep dives, wrecks etc... You used to be able to stay for 5 bucks a night in a cheap place in Roatan, cant remember the name sorry! Its not hard to find, just ask a dive instructor. Also seagrapes was an excellent option for 10 bucks a night. If your staying long term you can easily get by on 200-500 bucks a month on accommodation, plenty of apartment options around.
  22. Yea my spots will not come off with dry cleaning, i have tried using a blower. Thanks for the tips guys!
  23. Hello, My sensor is stupidly dirty, it doesn't show up on macro shots but on WA it is noticeable and on video it is distracting. I have two problems, one is ive never done it and I dont really trust a biased website which is selling a product, to tell me which product I should buy to do the job, so I was hoping i could learn from your experiences which sensor cleaning kits are best for cleaning serious hairs and dust which seem to be fused to my sensor, dry cleaning will not do the trick. Also i am careful when changing lenses, but I guess im not careful enough, is this a common issue? My second problem is I live in Indonesia and cant seem to find any online site that will allow me to buy a sensor cleaning kit and deliver it Bali, I know its a long shot but has anybody had this done in Bali, Singapore, Jakarta or Hong Kong, or for that matter purchased the kit in any of these places? My wife was instructed to buy one or have somebody do it in Singapore but after going to 5 camera shops gave up... Appreciate any help! Fontaine
  24. http://www.optomausa.com/products/detail/Pico-PK120 This projector which is about the size of an iphone and can be plugged into virtually any multimedia device, laptop, ipad, iphone, computer, camera etc.. looks really cool, LED lights last for 20,000 hours and are completely maintenance free, projects a 70inch quality image. Just wondering if any of you have used one or seen it in action? At only $250 it seems like a bargain! Fontaine
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