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About JoeFreediver

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    Santa Cruz, CA
  1. I clicked on that link (from Scubed) and to my surprise....I was on that trip! Guess I might as well fill you in. The diver was Stephen Wong, a photographer from Hong Kong. In late 2001, he joined our group of freedive spearfisherman on a trip to the Coral Sea in hopes of getting some photos of tigers. He was right to sign on with a group of bluewater hunters. We usually see tigers daily while hunting tuna. Stephen was used to scuba diving but we talked him into giving freediving a try for getting close to the tiger sharks. He took to freediving quite well and was doing dives to 60 feet before long. After dripping a little bit of tuna oil into the water and setting a few fish carcasses on the bottom, we eventually had a very large tiger shark show up. Stephen started freediving down and getting pictures. This shark was the fattest tiger I have ever seen. The thing looked pregnant it was so fat. After several freedives to the bottom, Stephen started for the surface. The shark, which seemed to ignore him previously, suddenly took notice. In the film, Stephen does not notice the shark turning at him at first. When you see Stephen start to swim like crazy.....that is when he sees the tiger shark coming at him! The cameraman was Andy Ruddock, a long time champion Australian freediver with a typically Australian sense of humor. He never missed a second of the encounter with the video camera and frankly, I think he secretly hoped to get some "more exciting" footage! Most of my tiger shark encounters have been while bluewater hunting. I have never lost a tuna to a tiger but some of my buddies have. One time, I put the tuna gun down and grabbed my digital camera to get some shots of a 14 foot tiger shark cruising over the bottom of a reef. I never felt comfortable with only a camera between me and the tiger shark. I have never been chased out of the water by a tiger but one tried to eat a friend of mine freediving in Mexico. Joe Tobin
  2. Al, By all means go for it. Diving in the open ocean can be a real eye opener. Finding a weed line or any other debris in the water can be a magnet for a whole chain of sea life. The open sea abounds with miles and miles of emptiness but for those willing to look, great congregations of sea life can be found like the weed line you described. Freedive spearfishing for pelagic fish in the open ocean has been my passion for over 10 years. Far offshore is where much of this sort of freediving takes place. Many hours in a day are spent drifting and searching in empty water but when one finds a "crossroads" of sorts in the open ocean, the sights and experiences can be unparalleled. Don't let the shark intimidate you. That he was there is evidence that something's going on. Recently, I was 200 miles offshore. There was a small branch drifting in the water. Under the branch was a small shark trying to get at the little trigger fish that were sheltering there. Under the shark was a huge school of rainbow runners. Under the rainbow runners were hundreds of yellowfin tuna. All of this was going on under this innocuous looking drifting stick floating in the water. I dove this mass of sea life for over and hour just admiring what I was seeing. The tuna were not the size I was interested in so I never fired my speargun. After satisfying myself that the larger fish I was interested in hunting were not patrolling this edges of this congregation of life, I broke out the camera and shot some photos. I would recommend freediving over scuba in this situation as it is quite and less likely to spook some of the more cautious fish that might come in on you. Don't get overly spooked by the shark (within reason). Learn which sharks are relatively harmless and which sharks to be on high alert around. The open ocean can be a very boring place to be but when it "goes off", the experience can be unparalleled! Joe Tobin Santa Cruz CA
  3. Yes! Wahoo indeed, do school but you will not see them tightly packed like some other schooling fish. They tend to swim on loose packs when traveling together. It is common to see singles, pairs or small groups. As a freediver and lover of fresh fish, I have become quite familiar with the habits of wahoo. Wahoo can be found in the blue water often 3 to 15 feet from the surface. Try freediving over pinnacles or on the outer blue water edge of steep drop offs in tropical or subtropical oceans. Photographing one well would be a challenge. These fish DO NOT like to be looked at. The best way to get close to one is to ignore it and DO NOT make eye contact. Just look out of the corner of your eye and turn away from the fish. Wait for several seconds and then slowly look over your shoulder. If you do it right, the wahoo will not feel threatened and will become curious as to why you turned away and may come in very close to have a better look at you. You should be able to get a nice photo at this point. Cheers, Joe Tobin
  4. Absolutely two cameras! I like to take pictures that tell the story of the expedition. There is so much happening topside between dives on the sort of adventures I like to go on that having that second camera ready for topside is a must. I am new to photography and started out taking photos with one camera in the housing (Oly. C-3030 / Light&Motion housing) but missed all the topside stuff so I bought a second C-3030 camera. That worked very well. Then I sold it all and bought a 20D / Ikelite recently. I just went on a trip but with only the one 20D. I missed a lot of topside stuff since the camera was buttoned up in the housing. I will buy a second 20D so I can capture the topside stuff as well as have a back up for the housing. I wish I did that before I went on the last trip! Joe Tobin
  5. Hi Clownfish, I was in a similar situation to you as I had the Oly. C-3030 in a Light and Motion housing with wide angle lens and felt that I was definitely taking a liking to U/W photo and was ready to upgrade, but to what? After much deliberation, I decided on the 20D in an Ike housing with the Canon 10-22 lens. Everything has arrived but I have yet to get it underwater. I am quite certain that the DSLR system is going to be something I will grow into as my skills increase. Already, the abilities of the DSLR have exceeded what I could achieve with my C-3030. Only you can decide what is best for you but I would encourage you to look at an SLR. My experience with the 20D has only been on land so far (winter sucks!) but now that I am getting comfortable with the DSLR I can't wait to get under water. Reading posts from wetpixel has helped me with my decision. I'll be interested in hearing what you end up deciding to go with. Keep us posted. Cheers, Joe Tobin
  6. Thanks James and Anthony. I'll start out at f5.6 to f8 in the manual setting and keep an eye on shutter speed to make sure I don't get motion blur. I'll remember to make use of the light meter in the view finder which is a feature not available in my last camera. Joe Tobin
  7. I was wondering if any of you Canon 20D shooters had any favorite settings to suggest for me. I will be freediving and shooting wide angle shots of other freedivers in California. I am using a 10-22 wide angle lens on my 20D in an Ike housing. I will be using a Sea&Sea YS90 digital strobe. I am familiar with the strobe and feel confident in making the right manual settings. It's the camera that intimidates me at this point. My previous camera was an Olympus C-3030 with the same YS 90 strobe and a wide angle port-lens. On that system, I usually selected by aperture of 4.6 or shutter speed of 120 (I think) to avoid blur. As this new Canon camera is an entirely new beast, I am sure I'll be learning much by trial and error. I don't have a very long history with photography and have so much to learn The new system hasn't been in the water yet but soon....very soon! Thanks, Joe
  8. I thought I would share my shark shield observations from the standpoint of a freediving spearfisherman. My first experience with the device was in 1997 off the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. One of the freedivers had the South African made Shark POD which was designed to be attached to a SCUBA tank. He created a way to attach it to his upper leg and then there was a cable that ran down his leg and attached to an electrode on the swim fin. It was very bulky and difficult to freedive with. As we were hunting pelagic fish, there were always sharks (silver tips and whalers) around but the sharks would naturally keep a bit of distance from all the freedivers and seldom ventured into the range of the electrical field. Even when a fish was taken, the speared fish was always the focus of the shark activity and seldom the diver. It was hard to judge how the device worked since the silvertips and whaler sharks usually kept a respectful distance anyway. A few years later, the device was better adapted to freediving and a smaller unit was developed that fit onto a vest and an on-off switch fitted to a wrist strap with the idea that it could be turned on in an as needed basis in order to prolong battery life as bluewater hunters often spent many hours in the water at a time. It was an improvement but still too bulky for freediving. It did work though. Got to see another freediver with that model keep some very aggressive dusky sharks at bay off southern Baja. The latest model is produced by an Australian outfit and called the Shark Shield. It can be ordered with a 4 hour battery and has been designed into a very small ankle worn unit with about a six foot leash that dangles off the ankle in order to produce the protective electric field. This unit is much more easy to dive with and I predict it will become more popular with freedivers. Though I have yet to dive with one myself, I have seen all three of the different models work on various sharks while worn by other divers. Last summer, while freediving for tuna at Guadalupe Island off the coast of Northern Baja Mexico, a smallish (14 foot) great white shark approached two freedivers who were preparing to get into one of the inflatable skiffs. After passing his gear up and just before climbing into the skiff, one of the divers with the Shark Shield looked just in time to see the great white approaching him at the surface. As soon as the shark got to within 15 feet of the diver it abruptly turned and swam away. I don't think he was about to be bit by the shark but it's nice to know they turn when they get within the range of the electric field. Interestingly, this diver did get out of the water instead of waiting for his buddy to get a little closer to the skiff and within the protective electrical field. Once the guy with the shield got out of the water, the shark turned around again and followed the buddy not wearing a shark shield all the way back to the skiff and swam under the boat just after the freediver made his hasty exit from the water! The only failure I have heard of was an Australian freediver who was attacked and killed by an oceanic white tip while apparently wearing a charged and functioning Shark Shield but I have yet to see the actual report on the incident so I will withhold judgment for now. If you dive where there are species of sharks that are definitely dangerous, such a device might be worth thinking about. Joe Tobin Santa Cruz
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