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Everything posted by thatporchdawg

  1. I've managed to buy my strobes. Thanks to everyone that showed interested.
  2. Bought a strobe from jswensva. Good transaction and communication. I'd be happy to deal with him again.
  3. I'm looking to buy a used and working Sea & Sea YS-110a strobe, preferably before mid-September 2016. If you've got one lying around that you aren't using anymore, let me know along with your price expectations. All reasonable offers considered. Cheers, Ken
  4. I'm interested in a strobe if any are available and if you wouldn't mind shipping to New Zealand. Can you let me know what would shipping run? I'd need it here quick-ish as I have a trip coming up at the start of October.
  5. Some of these may be a bit overdone, but its my top ten. And like everyone else, its in no particular order... 1) Seraya Secrets, Tulamben, Bali 2) Liberty wreck, Tulamben, Bali 3) Northern Arch, Poor Knights, New Zealand 4) HMNZS Waikato, Tutukaka, New Zealand 5) Almost anything in Vatu-i-ra Passage, Fiji 6) Stingray City, Grand Cayman 7) Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida 8) Rainbow River, Florida 9) Dangleben's Pinnacles, Dominica 10) Town Pier, Bonaire I think this list is a great place to find new places to go! Now off to research a place or two!
  6. I'm an American living overseas and I use DEPP with no issues. They're not very good at communicating, but I'm covered. No worries so far. Cheers, Ken
  7. Kia Ora, Wazza! There aren't many Kiwis around (including me. I'm an American expat), but I'm at least in your neighborhood. Let me know if you ever get up to AKL and want to go for a semi-local dive.
  8. Been there twice (July 06 and May 08). Only place I've gone back to. I'd go back again in a second. Just some more pointers: 1) If you're there for more than a few days, the menu at the restaurant gets a bit repetitive. 2) No two dives at Seraya Secrets are the same. You WILL see something different every time. Dive it as much as you can. If you want some coral and reef, a nearby site called Drop Off should fit the bill. 3) Get to Liberty as soon as possible in the AM. After about 9 to 10AM, you'll have every other diver in SE Asia in your pics if you're shooting WA. We also got a bit of current on the Liberty the few dives we did there, so beware. 4) There are no ATMs anywhere near Tulamben. If you need cash, get it before you get to Tulamben. 5) Have fun. Cheers, Ken
  9. I share the same reaction many of you had when watching that moronic clip. It reminded me of a recent article I saw here in the only diving magazine available here, Dive New Zealand magazine. In this article describing a local dive site, there's a photo of a diver cupping an inflated puffer, and is captioned "Jeremy plays with a small porcupinefish, which puffed up briefly before speeding off at half a knot, like a motorized basketball." I was shocked to see the picture, but not completely amazed as the Kiwi dive culture is more "hunter-gatherers" than "take only pictures, leave only bubbles". Not exactly what you'd expect in a country that bills itself for its clean, green, no nukes, all organic, eco-friendly image. This month's issue has a letter to the editor from a dive shop owner in another South Pacific island country expressing a fair amount of outrage and going over many of the same points made here: don't #@$%! with the wildlife and questions the integrity of publisher for allowing such an image to be printed, with which I fully agree. But wait, it gets better. In a moment much like Pulp Fiction's one liner "please allow me to retort", the following letter to the editor is responding to the first letter and was written by the article's author. A few key quotes from the response for your enjoyment: "I am very pleased that he [first letter writer] shows such rare concern for the welfare of fishes that he has bothered to write to you about it. I would comment, however, that puffing up at the onset of even minor stress is a very common behaviour of a porcupinefish." "I would hope [writer] would also protest, much more vigorously, at the common practice of fishermen to inflict severe stress and trauma on 'sport' fish and game fish... Of course the fish struggles for its life, responding as if it is about to die, and many of course do....But some fishermen pride themselves at being 'conservationists' by tagging and releasing the fish after making it suffer so." "I would gladly support [writer] if he was to take up this greater challenge and try to get a better deal for those thousands of fish that are deliberately subjected to huge trauma every day, and a large industry encouraging them to carry on in this barbaric way." What does my head in about this response, is that the respondent never apologizes for stressing the first fish, takes this incredulous and belittling tone, and then goes on a rant about if you're really so concerned, then you should crusade against tortuous fishing and leave me and my porcupine fish alone. Though I think printing the original image was in poor taste, I think the counter-attack was clearly an attempt to redirect attention to something much more sinister like fishing (not that most fishermen are dive magazine readers). Watching this all unfold in print makes me realize how much more education needs to take place in the world. While I agree that sport fishing is pretty barbaric and cruel, that does not excuse the author (and picture taker) for his behavior nor does it let the publisher off the hook for choosing to print that image. Stress is stress, and mucking with fauna whether you're doing with scuba tank or a fishing pole just isn't right. In my years of diving, I've never seen a puffer of any sort resort to its common behavior of puffing up. Almost every one I've seen has tried to hide or blend with the environment first and if that doesn't work, then it does an about-face and swims away as fast as it can (just like any other fish). But I've saved the very best nugget for last. The guy who wrote the "blame fisherman, not me" letter and took the image had to sign his article for it to be published, but he would have done himself a great service by leaving out his title after his name... PhD, QSM, Marine Biologist.
  10. Kia ora, James, Sarah, and Henry! Barely out of Houston a year, and look what happens! Congrats, James and Sarah. In line with all the other sage advice like save your money and get your rest when you can, make sure Henry has a proper upbringing, and get him the new Canon 1Ds Mk III before anyone starts tempting him with a Nikon or a Sony.
  11. Graham, Funny thing, is that the guides told us it was a small mola mola! Just another critter off my list, though I don't think anyone got a shot of it. Great diving with you, but next time, you need to have the molas come up and tap us on the foreheads before posing for the pictures. And to bring this around to this thread, we had no problems with our luggage, but we're only carrying one set of camera kit for the two of us. However, on the way to the airport to leave, our driver was pulled over and asked to "make a donation" to the local "policeman's charity ball." The whole transaction took less than a minute, and the cops probably drove off with 10,000Rp. All said and done, I still love that island and the people. Cheers, Ken
  12. Just got back from Bali, via Jetstar & Qantas. Our carryons were weighed by the ticketing agent in Auckland in an attempt to get us under the 20kg/person checked bag limit. I was allowed to hand carry my housing w/ camera inside as a camera. I carried my Lowepro Orion II loaded up to the 7kg limit. After the ticket agent in Auckland, no one weighed any of our bags in Syndey, Bali, or Melbourne. The backup plan was to pay whatever it took to keep the Lowepro and housing in the cabin.
  13. I went to Wananavu during the middle of last November with the wife. The resort is nice, but nothing posh. They do have a honeymoon bure which is a bit bigger than the standard bures. The resort is pretty nice, laid out across a hillside. The resort has a decent menu for lunch/dinner with kava and a live band for entertainment. Breakfast is buffet style. The resort also has a "spa" that the wife said was a little less than she expected for the money she paid. The resort also has daily activities for non-divers, should you not spend every day diving or in the bure (honeymoon after all!). Is the resort fancy? Not really, but its not a rustic backpacker's retreat either. Like Drew said, Kai Viti divers will take you out to the Bligh Waters, but its a longish ride (1 hour or so) and they only go for 3 tank trips. On 2 tank trips they stay closer in. The divemasters are nice enough and fairly lenient, but with that laid back attitude comes a laid back service underwater of the follow me and I'll get you back to the boat, no more, no less. Kai Viti will allow you to do shore diving, but the viz sucked, but it gave you plenty of time to play in the shallows without a boat waiting on you. When we were there, the rainy season had started, so October might be a better time to go. The rain decreased the visibility, but the fish life and soft corals were spectacular. Have you thought about maybe a week in one really nice honeymoon quality, white sand beach, fancy dinners, posh spa type resort and then spend another week at a more dive friendly resort as a compromise. Cheers, Ken
  14. Tom, The water was a balmy and summery 70F and the vis was a good 90' or so. The first step off the boat was a cold one, and not something I care to repeat too often. So the drysuits are purchased and on the way. Colin, Thanks for the IDs. Diving the Poor Knights was much better than I expected. Cheers, Ken
  15. Sorry to hijack.... but if you live in/near a city with an Indonesian embassy/consulate, you can get your visa before you arrive in Bali. We got our visas at the consulate in Houston when I was still living stateside. If you get your visa early, you can skip that line at the airport in Bali and head directly through customs/immigration. I spent a week at Scuba Seraya back in July of 2006 as the diving portion of my honeymoon , and I'm going back in mid-May. You'll love the resort, as its small and quiet. You'll probably go into Tulamben to sample some of the other dive sites in the area, but you really can't go wrong with any of them. Cheers, Ken P.S. Those are some really nice shots. Its got me all excited about going back to Bali!
  16. I just did my first trip out to the Poor Knights over the weekend. Three meter swells on the way out, but we moored on the lee side of the islands. Still a fair bit of surge to contend with, so it was a less than productive afternoon. Anyway, on to the images. I'm not sure what a lot of this stuff is specifically; this is a new area for me and I've yet to learn the local creature IDs. If anyone wants to be more specific on the IDs, I'm willing to learn and listen. Some sort of moray Corals/anemones on an encrusting sponge Nudibranch Blenny in its hidey-hole
  17. Oh, I didn't go to Dominica from NZ. I was living in the US when I holidayed in Dominica, and have since moved to NZ. However, my endorsement is still the same. I'd go to Dominica again, its just a bit expensive now that I'm on the other side of the world!
  18. If memory serves me right, Anchorage is right next to Castle Comfort where I stayed back in '05. I have no experience with the Anchorage, but I liked Castle Comfort well enough. The diving is pretty good, and probably some of the best I've done in the Caribbean. The Scott's Head Marine Reserve has some really good diving with loads of critters. Its macro heaven. The shore dives off the Castle Comfort dock were really good and worth taking (highly recommended). Long bottom time, shallow, and some pretty cool boulders and sand flats to explore (nudibranch, seahorses, flying grunards, etc.). Topside, we did a lot of the hikes to the falls. From easiest to hardest, we did Emerald Pool, Trafalgar, Sari Sari, and Middleham (where I proposed to my then fiancee, now wife ). We used guides from KHATTS for all of the hikes. They were good and professional. Most hikes were 3-4 hours after our 2 tank morning dives. There is a hike to Boiling Lake, but its supposed to be a strenuous all day adventure (hiking boots a good idea) that we decided to pass up. Other things we did were a trip over to Rosalie Bay Beach (wild side and powder fine black sand), the Saturday morning farmer's market in Roseau (fun and close by), and the Carib Indian territory tour (pass on this one... looks like the rest of Dominica). If the missus wants a fancier meal, go up the the Fort Young for dinner. Its probably the closest to fine dining in Roseau. Of all the places in the Caribbean I've been, Dominica tops my list of places I'd go back to. Have fun, take pictures, and relax. Its a holiday after all.
  19. I know you can evaluate Lightroom for 30 days before you have to buy it. Its a fully functional eval copy if you want to play with it and see what it does. I'm not sure whether the other Adobe products such as Elements and PS3 offer the same eval period. I just moved from Elements 5 to Lightroom as my primary tool. All of Lightroom's changes are lossless, so you never end up really changing your original file. I now just use elements for creative work or complex work.
  20. Now that I don't enjoy the wonderful baggage allowances that flights originating in the US get, I've had to rethink how I pack my rig as well. For a recent trip to Fiji on Air New Zealand (7kg carry on limit w/ an additional "personal" item i.e. slimline laptop case/sleeve), I figured there was no way I'm getting on a plane in Auckland carrying a Pelican/Storm case as a carry on. Airport personnel weigh all suspiciously heavy looking bags before you go through security. The Pelican 1550 stays at home now. In its place, I've got a LowePro Orion Trekker AW. In the bottom divider compartment go the 15mm FE, 18-55mm zoom, 1 strobe, AA and Canon battery chargers, topside shoe mount flash, 1 handle, 1 set of arms and clamsp, and a sync chord. In the top compartment, I load up the assembled Aquatica housing, extension port and marco port. Inside is the 20D and 50mm macro lens. Yes its over 7kg, but I do my best to make it look light. The Orion Trekker is still a big bag, but it doesn't look as big as the Computrekkers or a rolling carry on. It looks a little like a slightly oversized day pack. I check the other arm, cable, handle, dome port, extra batteries, etc. This set up gets me a full macro set up should other bags go missing. I carry my laptop, portable HDs, cables, etc in a slimline laptop case so that doesn't count against the 7kg. Next time, I'll try to squeeze more into the laptop case (chords, chargers, etc.) without making it look too bulky. So far its worked, but I need to find even more ways to cut the load!
  21. We just got back from Fiji on Sunday. We stayed at Wananavu Beach Resort and dove with Kai Viti divers. Kai Viti offered three tank dives out to Vatu-i-Ra passage in addition to their normal two tank days. We did learn from the shop that you can make shore dives on the "house reef", just pick up the tanks from the shop. The house reef is fair. The vis was beyond poor and the reef bottoms out at 30 feet. This makes a tank last for a good long time, and in the shallower sand patches, there was some pretty decent muck/macro life. All in all, it was good stuff, and I'd recommend Kai Viti as a pretty good land based dive option in Fiji. Cheers, Ken
  22. just to keep anyone from getting their hopes up, all the items have been sold cheers, Ken
  23. I know this is a mostly diving related trip (at least the S. Pacific portion), but I'm noticing that New Zealand is missing from the cultural list. Its a lot different from all the other islands that you'll be travelling to, and might be nice to trade coconut palms for tree ferns. There is diving here, and cultural stuff as well. I'm just offering up another option. Auckland International Airport can also serve as a base to get to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Oz.
  24. Hey ya'll, My wife and I are considering a trip to Fiji in the next few months. Liveaboards are a bit out of budget right now, so we're looking for a land based resort in Fiji that's photo friendly with shore diving available. I've heard that Beqa Lagoon resort fits the bill, but are there others? How's the shore diving at Beqa Lagoon Resort? Also, how would you get to any resort you might suggest? Fly into Nadi or Suva? Then what? Grateful for any and all help! Cheers, Ken
  25. How about taking the lens down to the local camera shop and trying it out on a 5D? That should answer most "will it work" questions relatively easily. Maybe take a memory card down as well and do some test shots using that combination. It would at the very least get you some hands on experience.
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