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About mrjamesm

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  1. With a certain amount of trepidation we stepped aboard the Turks and Caicos Explorer II and joined the future stars of the dive industry’s first reality TV show. The fine print on the Wetpixel / Liquid Assets trip on board the Turks and Caicos Explorer II read “Reality television as no one has ever seen it: chronicling the highs and lows of a live-aboard dive crew as it unfolds...a month in the life of a captain, purser, engineer, dive crew and diving guests. The dramatic interaction that unfolds between them has, until now, gone virtually unpublicized”. In the UK, where I come from (although I now live in Boston, MA), the words ‘reality’ and ‘tv’ when put together are not synonymous with personal integrity or particularly inspiring to anyone with an IQ greater than that of a sponge (no offense to sponges... you’re doing a great job guys). Having been on a number of liveaboards across our oceans, I had visions of artificially heightened tensions, set up conflicts and Big Brother at sea. Hurricane Ike had clattered into the Turks and Caicos almost two weeks earlier, damaging 80% of houses on Grand Turk and affecting property throughout the island chain. Fortunately, the island of Providenciales where the boat was based, appeared to have escaped relatively lightly, but even then as we travelled from the airport to our first night hotel, we could see the torn roofs and damaged road signs that accompanied us up the island. The Turks and Caicos Explorer II, refitted and renovated in 2007, had avoided Hurricane Ike in the Dominican Republic and escaped unscathed. The boat was well set up with a roomy dive deck which comfortably served 20 divers with air and Nitrox fills which varied daily from 32-36%. The salon air conditioning had been impacted by a faulty compressor and struggled to keep the area pleasantly cool, which sent many people upstairs to the first sun deck or further up to the third deck to take advantage of the welcome sea breezes. We stayed in an upper deck cabin, which was very clean, with separate air conditioning and plenty of cat swinging storage space. When you go diving 13 days after a Hurricane has blown through, you don’t expect to get great visibility, and that was pretty much the theme for the week. Back scatter was the most photographed model and conditions tested most photographers and cameras on board - and there were many. Get close, or have fun - the most successful shots of the week were macro shots or silhouettes of divers or sharks against the sun. A compass was the critical piece of kit with every dive being a refresher course in navigation and a few dives being cut short by some because of disorientation or simply lack of anything to see. The boat itself has a unique attribute - it’s a swinging boat... Now I don’t mean in the car keys in a bowl in the center of the room kind of swinging (sorry if that’s a disappointment!) I mean in the sense that it was a moving target which added a unique challenge to the navigation. The T&C Explorer II swings nearly 180 degrees about its mooring. So if you don’t look where you are in the course of that swing when you jump in, you might find yourself somewhere other than where you planned during the dive briefing. If you have ever had problems locating a boat on a night dive, imagine trying to find one in less than 15ft vis, that appears for a few seconds every 5 minutes or so and then disappears off into the cloudy water. When you did follow the sounds of the boat ladders, or were clever enough to know where in the radius the boat was going to appear, you could grab the hang line and be treated to the roller coaster ride of being towed through the water at warp speed - it had been clocked at a little over 2 knots on the bow - if someone has the time and inclination, they might like to work out what that means for the stern of a 124 foot boat. Much fun was to be had on the safety stop, from the flying Superman pose,the multi-person fin chain or the reverse camera tow :-) A great addition was the daily photo competition which added an excellent dimension to the days diving, with everyone hunting down the best shark photo, indigo hamlet, silhouette, comedy photo or diver photo . It’s something I will suggest on every liveaboard as it really bought people together in the evenings and, with the poor vis, gave everybody a challenge or a different skill to practice in the quest for the winning shot. Like most liveaboards, it’s the people you are with that make of break the experience. The group of people who had decided to join the trip were not the star struck wannabees I had imagined might be attracted to the presence of a film crew, but some of the nicest, funniest and most down to earth Americans I have had the pleasure to dive with. © Tom Redd For this particular week, sponsored by Wetpixel, the addition of Shawn Heinrichs certainly added a welcome dimension of photography masterclass, advice on editing in Aperture and an eye opening perspective on the state of our oceans. It seems he's also quite the joker... Shawn is passionate about shark and marine conservation, a passion shared by the crew of Liquid Assets TV, and off gas times were spent watching some of the most moving and informative films about our oceans and the creatures man exploits. If you haven’t seen Sharkwater (http://www.sharkwater.com/), it brings together an incredible view of how sharks are being senselessly wiped out in order to fuel the sharkfin soup demand and efforts to stop it are being hampered by alleged corruption at government levels. It showcases the efforts of those trying to make a difference and brings together a great deal of information into a single, powerful and often distressing source. It’s difficult to watch, but a must see.. Everyone can do something to make a difference, whether it’s not ordering something on a restaurant menu, or helping to fund the organisations that are trying to make people aware of what’s happening to our oceans. I have been successful in getting shark taken off the menu at one of the largest UK commercial caterers by making the people that create policy and dictate purchasing decisions aware of the information that they otherwise wouldn’t be aware of. Get reading and be informed. Another film to check out is that of Mark Santa-Maria, the camera man with Liquid Assets, which uncovered the less than ethical operations of some Manatee tour operators in the Crystal River area of Florida. ( ). OK, short rant over, back to the main feature... For me, the thing that I couldn’t help noticing on nearly every dive, was the decaying condition of the coral on the dive sites that we visited. It was not only coral bleaching, but coral clearly dying. I saw amazing cascades of what was clearly once stunning coral formations, but couldn’t help seeing that much of it now appeared to be rock, not coral. I likened it to taking a tour around the forum in Rome - seeing the ruin of what was clearly once something magnificent with the occasional beautifully preserved mosaic or frescoe. Having said that, due to the weather, I know we were restricted to just a small portion of the wonderful diving that is available in the TCI - if there is anyone reading that went the wee before, I’m told they witnessed some fabulous dive sites... The highlight for me though was the shark encounters that we had - and there were many. Carribean reef sharks coming in close, and often. The particles in the water made photographing the magnificent creatures somewhat infuriating, but I still find every shark sighting an exhilarating experience. Bringing everything that I have discussed in the last paragraph right on to our door step (dive deck?) though was the news on the final morning that the T&C police had caught a poaching boat in T&C waters. I only have this information second hand, but I was told that there were also shark fins found on the boat. I’m told that the film crew were able to get footage... Despite my initial fears, the reality tv cameras were very unobtrusive to the guests and certainly didn’t impact the service delivered by the crew on board. There was no guest baiting, no hidden cameras in the toilet and no suggestions of nude diving... The crew of the T&C Explorer II were good humored and extremely attentive, despite having one member down due to an infection, a broken compressor, a broken toe and and an irretrievable regulator situation on the first dive! I would be happy to go on another trip with Liquid Assets and am hoping to keep in touch with the crew - knowledgable, professional, and fun! Film crew or no film crew, I would recommend a week aboard the Explorer II. Great boat, great crew and great company. Oh, and the first liveaboard that I’ve ever been on where all of he drinks are included in the price... :-) Thanks to everyone involved for a great trip and look out for for more information on the documentary at www.liquidassets.tv James
  2. Could I be on the audition panel?? Hang on - now you're distracting me! Has anyone actually been on a boat where there was sufficient action worthy of being on tv? Actually - has antone seen reality tv that was worthy of being on tv!
  3. Hi there, Is anyone here signed up for this trip (or have I missed that thread)? Having read the liquid assets web site a little harder (having these dates for this trip suddenly come available was a real plus for me so I got very excited and booked myself on), I'm a litttle concerned that I'm about to appear in the ocean going version of Big Brother!!! From their website... ""The Over/Under" is reality television as no one has ever seen it: chronicling the highs and lows of a live-aboard dive crew as it unfolds. It's a behind-the-scenes look at not only the great diving that's only accessible by live-aboard dive vessel, but also a month in the life of a captain, purser, engineer, dive crew and diving guests. The dramatic interaction that unfolds between them has, until now, gone virtually unpublicized." Anyone else in?
  4. I've done lots of editing of images followimng a recent trip and I'm playing with the Adobe lightroom Beta. The nicest slideshow (in my opinion) is the one that displays the EXIF data - unfortunately, the artist entry is showing as unknown and I haven't found anything that will edit the EXIF data in anything but a JPEG. I have a 20D (and currently can't find the installation disks for the canon software). Any suggestions?
  5. Currently using a PC for my editing. A couple of weeks ago I saw a slidehow production done on a Mac that looked fantastic - great introduction type screen with a number of images displayed and individually highlighted until you chose to begin the slideshow. Is there a similar program on a PC that would do this? I have no idea what the MAC software was... I have PS CS(2?) but can't see anything in that, been playing with the lightroom beta which does produce slideshows, but nothing like the intro screen.. James
  6. I have a Suunto Vytec and 1 Ike DS125 strobe - Never had a problem. My wife has a Uwatec Air Z Nitrox and has been pretty close to me when I've taken pictures, no probs there either. If you're teaching though, and I'm assuming diving, I'm thinking you should probably have a guage so your kit is of roughly the same set-up as your students? James
  7. To my great annoyance, I've just been informed I've been bumped from my chosen holiday destination of Vakarufahli and have been given a choice of Meeru or Veligandu. You can take as read just how utterly p***** off I am about this and how this is not a great start to my luxury island paradise holiday! I've been offered an alerternative of either Meeru or Veligandu. Does anyone have experience of either island or recommend one or the other? Or should we be asking for a full refund? Thanks James
  8. Does anyone have recommendations for a portable storage device? I don't really want to carry a laptop, I want a screen to view the images, I'd like to put the card from my camera straight in so there's no messing with cables and the like. I'd rather not pay too much either Until recently I'd be using an ipod - mainly because I had one and the camera connector was cheap - that did the job, albeit in a very poor way. That has now died so its time to either get something a little better, or simply replace the ipod (although not my first choice solution). I've been reading good reviews on the Epson devices, but not cheap...
  9. Looking to go to the Maldives in November for 1 week of livaboard and 1 week of island. Anyone have good recommendations? We've had Angaga recommended by a few companies for the island - we still plan to dive while on there.. Like a little luxury on the boat and not too big if possible. In terms of the diving, would like to see the bigger animals, sharks, manta's, dolphins etc. We dived in the Lhaviyani atol a few times so would like to try somewhere different.. I know it's not the best time of year strictly speaking but we're moving from the UK to Boston MA in the new year so this is the best chance for a holiday.. James
  10. Some pictures from my recent trip to the Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. www.newdiver.co.uk/aus06 The rest of the site wil be being tidied up and some content added shortly... James
  11. I swppared in the Sony P9 for a 20d and spent a week in the red sea learning how (well, starting to learn how) to use it. I managed to get this terrifying image in a friends pool though James
  12. Hi Mehmet, I stayed on Komandoo in the Lhaviyani Atol which is at the North. Two extremely memorable dive sites were Fushivaru Thila and Kuredu Express. The first gave us superb Manta dives, the second was listed by the discovery channel as one of their top ten shark dives (grey reef) if I remember correctly. We dived with Prodivers who were excellent. Barbara who runs the Kokmadoo centre along with Tom (oh no, the goodlife theme tune is back! - not sure if that translates ) is a photographer also. There are various contact details, message boards and gallery links on http://www.prodivers.com/ Komandoo is a very small intimate island - fantastic food and accomodation. Nearby is Kuredu, much bigger and just across the way is Khanuhura - a top notch resort. I've stayed on Kanuhura also, my personal favourite was Komandoo - depends what you want though.. Enjoy! James
  13. I was in Marsal Alam while they were taking the publicity shots to be used at the show for the new Emporer divers school there. I may be 'looking natural' in some of the standdisplays B) I'll be heading up there on Saturday.. James
  14. Is that a euphemism?? Great job on the web cast... I only caught the last 15 minutes unfortunately but I thought you handled the interview very well.. You came across as very relaxed and natural, that can be difficult.. James
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