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Ken Kurtis

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Ken Kurtis last won the day on August 9

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About Ken Kurtis

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    Wolf Eel
  • Birthday 05/20/1951

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    Ken Kurtis
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    Beverly Hills, CA

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  • Camera Model & Brand
    Nikon D750 (D600 for land), GoPro Hero4 for video
  • Camera Housing
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    Dual Sea & Sea YS-D1s (which I love)

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  1. We had a great time diving with Murex in Manado, Indonesia in July. Here are the various links to our adventure for those interested: Trip Report - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Indo%202019/Indo%202019%20trip%20report.html Some trip Pix w/video & Smugmug links - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Indo%202019/Indo%202019%20-%20pix%20&%20links.htm Smugmug pix & slideshow - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2019-DIVE-TRIPS/INDONESIA-2019/ Diving Indo 2019 video https://youtu.be/dvLWop5-5pY Grazin' on the Reef video https://youtu.be/cjPFzLVNJA4 Nighttime Crab Walk video https://youtu.be/RiyeBFGDC6Q Enjoy!!! - Ken
  2. We had a fabulous time - both above and below the surface - during our time exploring Easter Island last week. If you'd like to see what we saw, here are the links to the trip report and the pictures. For the SmugMug pix, you can either (A) Scroll down the page and see the entire collage, (B) Click on any individual pix for a full-frame version, or © Choose SLIDESHOW (the little PLAY arrow upper right on the top wide image) and it should run automatically. TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Easter%20Island%202019/Easter%20island%202019%20trip%20report.html SMUGMUG PAGE (140 images) - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2019-DIVE-TRIPS/EASTER-ISLAND-JANUARY-2019/ Enjoy!!! (And let me know if you have any questions or comments). - Ken
  3. Buckle up Buckaroos!!!! Prepare to immerse yourself in all things Roatan . . . or at least in all things we experienced in Roatan (minus the rain). The trip report, pix (both a dozen samples and the 100-image Smugmug slideshow), & videos are ready for your consumption. Here are the links: TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Roatan%202018/Roatan%202018%20trip%20report.html SAMPLE PIX - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Roatan%202018/Roatan%202018%20pix%20and%20video%20&%20SmugMug%20links.htm 100-IMAGE SMUGMUG SLIDE SHOW - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2018-DIVE-TRIPS/ROATAN-OCTNOV-2018/ VIDEO #1 (Inquisitive turtle) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkqpL6pRCYs&feature=youtu.be VIDEO #2 (Mary's Place dive) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6yx0mJNuqg&feature=youtu.be Enjoy!!! - Ken
  4. I hope this will brighten your day . . . My Yap 2018 trip report and pictures (yes, there's a bunch - but we saw a lot of stuff) are now ready for your dining and dancing pleasure: YAP 2018 TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Yap%202018/Yap%202018%20trip%20report.html YAP 2018 SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW PIX - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2018-DIVE-TRIPS/YAP-JUNE-2018/ Enjoy!!! - Ken
  5. It was weeks in the making so it's obviously worth waiting for and checking out. (At least, that's my pitch.) But the bottom line is that both the trip report and the pictures from our Bonaire trip that we got back from two weeks are now both available on-line. Here are the links: TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Bonaire%202018/Bonaire%202018%20trip%20report.html SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW PIX - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2018-DIVE-TRIPS/BONAIRE-APRIL-2018/ Enjoy!!! - Ken
  6. The links above seem not to be working (I entered them directly instead of through the "links" icon) so hopefully these are better: TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Fiji%202017/Fiji%202017%20trip%20report.html A FEW PIX - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Fiji%202017/Fiji%202017%20pix%20and%20SmugMug%20links.htm SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW (direct) - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2017-Dive-Trips-all/FIJI-2017-aboard-the-Fiji-Aggressor/ Sorry for the confusion. - Ken
  7. For those interested, here are the links to the Fiji trip report and pic, including the SmugMug slide show. TRIP REPORT: http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Fiji%202017/Fiji%202017%20trip%20report.html A FEW PIX: http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Fiji%202017/Fiji%202017%20pix%20and%20SmugMug%20links.htm FULL SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW: https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2017-Dive-Trips-all/FIJI-2017-aboard-the-Fiji-Aggressor Enjoy (and plan to join us for a fabulous vacation in 2018)!!! - Ken
  8. We have returned from Isla Guadalupe not only with all of our limbs intact, but with wonderful stories and marvelous pictures that we'd like to share with you about the experience: TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Guadalupe%202017/Guadalupe%202017%20trip%20report.html A FEW PIX - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Guadalupe%202017/Guadalupe%202017%20pix%20and%20SmugMug%20links.htm FULL SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2017-Dive-Trips-all/ISLA-GUADALUPE-2017-diving-with-Great-Whites/ Enjoy!!! - Ken
  9. I spent the month of July in Yap so it only makes sense that it took me a little longer than usual to get the trip report done. Here are the links to that, plus the SmugMug slide show and the manta cleaning station video. Even if you don't read the report to look at the still images, you GOT to look at the video. It's almost five minutes straight, with the manta about 5-10 feet away getting cleaned. Very special experience for me which I'm very happy to be able to share with you. TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Yap%202017/Yap%202017%20trip%20report.html SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2017-Dive-Trips-all/YAP-2017-both-groups/ YOUTUBE VIDEO - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeFLzS-UvBc Enjoy!!! - Ken
  10. As you may have read, we had a blast in Bonaire last week. If you'd like to read the trip report, see the pictures (SmugMug slideshow), &/or view the video, here are the links: TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Bonaire%202017/Bonaire%202017%20trip%20report.html SMUGMUG PIX/SLIDESHOW - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2017-Dive-Trips-all/BONAIRE-2017/ YOUTUBE VIDEO - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iW9b1rXNlw Enjoy!!! - Ken
  11. Be the first on your block to read them!!!! We had a wonderful time in the Maldives aboard the Manthiri (9 days of diving - 27 dives overall) and then followed that up with three days touring Istanbul, Turkey, who history dates back to the Roman Empire. Enjoy the experience with us vicariously through the trip report and the pix links below. For the SmugMug pix, you can either (1) Scroll down the page and look at them sort of en mass, (2) Click through them individually, or (3) Click PLAY button in the upper right (near "Buy photos") and SmugMug will do the work for you. Enjoy!!!! MALDIVES TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Maldives%202016/Maldives%202016%20trip%20report.html MALDIVES PIX & SLIDESHOW - https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/DIVE-TRIP-PHOTOS-ALL/2016-Dive-Trips/Maldives-2016/ ISTANBUL TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Istanbul%202016/Istanbul%202016%20trip%20report.html ISTANBUL PIX & SLIDESHOW - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Istanbul%202016/Istanbul%202016%20trip%20report.html - Ken
  12. It's their best Whale Shark season in years. They were everywhere . . . We just got back from two interesting and enjoyable weeks in Isla Mujeres (Mexico) diving with Whale Sharks, exploring cenotes, and more. Here are the links to the trip report and pix/slideshow. TRIP REPORT http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Isla%20Mujeres%202016/Isla%20Mujeres%202016%202016%20trip%20report.html PIX & SLIDESHOW http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Isla%20Mujeres%202016/Isla%20Mujeres%202016%20pix%20and%20SmugMug%20links.htm DIRECT TO SMUGMUG http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Isla%20Mujeres%202016/Isla%20Mujeres%202016%20pix%20and%20SmugMug%20links.htm Enjoy!!! - Ken
  13. There are some severe restrictions being proposed for Three Sisters (the best viewing and interaction area) for the upcoming season that will, IMHO, pretty much eliminate much of what we've enjoyed in the past. Three Sisters has certainly become overrun in the last few years to the point where manatees are getting crowded out. Visitor counts have gone from 60,000 in 2010 to almost 140,000 in 2014. There's opportunity for public comment but here's the gist of what's being proposed: 1. No more than 29 people (including guides) in Three Sisters at any given time. 2. All people must be escorted by FWS-certififed guide, max 4:1 ratio. 3. Only 5 companies will be issued guide permits, to be determined by application & lottery. 4. Access limited to 9AM - 4PM. 5. No kayaks. 6. Full closure of Pretty Sister and Little Sister lobes. 7. Full closure to people of the small slough (spring run) from the channel. 8. They will build inside the spring area, a floating dock and create a parking area for access. 9. No flash photography allowed. 10. No fins allowed. 11. Wetsuits required, must be predominantly black. 12. Photogs may not submerge to take a picture (so your lovley cover shot would have been illegal). 13. Commercial photogs (which includes people who post photos just on their own sites) need to get an SUP (Special Use Permit - $300), plus have a guide with them, to shoot. 14. No more than 2 photogs at a time, lottery system to be instituted during "open application season". There's other stuff, but this ought to be enough to horrify you for now. I will say that the the FWS people are really good about communicating with the stakeholders. Because I've taken groups there over the years, I'm on their contact list and have had frequent conversations with them about all of this. And while this all may seem pretty Draconian, they're really getting overwhelmed with visitors, far beyond what the Springs can handle, and the Manatees suffer for it. So it all comes from a good place and comes partly from an inability or unwillingness of the general public and the local operators to do any kind of self-policing or self-limiting. Public comment is open until September 4. The full PDF document is available here: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/refuges/pdf/TSS-Draft-EA-InWater-Crystal-River-NWR-07312015.pdf . - Ken The above is from me. Don't know why it posted as "Guest." I'm singed in as me. Weird.
  14. (Excerpted from my Y&P trip report. In all serious, learn from my mistakes.) HELLO & GOODBYE TO THE D750 I have been wanting to upgrade my Nikon D200 for some time and decided that on this trip, especially since we were doing both Yap & Palau, that I’d make the leap to the D750. This meant not only investing in the camera itself ($2500 including the tax) but also required purchasing a new Ikelite housing (another $1800). The camera and housing were really great in Yap. I can’t say enough good things about them (especially when coupled with my dual Sea&Sea YS-D1 strobes). I was really happy with the quality of the images I was getting and I thought the white balance on the D750 was far superior to that of the D200. Specially, the white underbelly of mantas looked white on the D750, whereas they had a bluish cast on the D200 that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. But there is that old underwater photographic adage of, “It’s not IF you’ll flood your camera but WHEN.” My “when” came in Palau on the first dive of our second day at Blue Hole. It was definitely user error. I didn’t notice that one of the three clamps that secures the back of the housing to the main housing body hadn’t latched. I can’t recall if I didn’t latch it the night before and just forgot to check it, or if I was talking to people Tuesday morning and wasn't paying 100% attention to what I was doing. Regardless, it’s on me. It’s also rather depressing how quickly a camera housing fills with water. There’s frequently not a lot you can do. My camera was handed down to me from the skiff and I started kicking on the surface towards the shallow top entrance to Blue Hole. This all took less than 60 seconds. I had just started down when I glanced at the camera and noticed a bubble. That didn’t seem right. Then I realized that the bubble was INSIDE the now-blank LCD top display of the camera. That also didn’t seem right but I didn’t notice any other water inside the housing. Then I realized that the reason for that was that the entire housing had filled with water so there were no visible bubbles inside. And that's also when I noticed the not-caught latch. (The bubble I was seeing was actually an AIR bubble trapped inside the camera itself.) I immediately knew the camera was toast. Nikon has told me over the years that, especially with the all-electronic cameras, there’s so much stuff deep inside that they'd have to rebuild the camera to mitigate the damage (usually more expensive than just buying another camera of the same model) and even then they couldn’t guarantee that some water hadn't gotten into some deep recess that they couldn’t find and the ensuing corrosion would short something out six months down the road. So it ends up that replacing the camera, not repairing it, is the safest and recommended solution. Knowing all this, I stopped my descent, surfaced, and kicked back to the boat as quickly as I could, handed the camera back up, and watched helplessly as a steady stream of water literally poured out of the inside. There was nothing else I could do at that point so I went on and made the dive. I sat out the next dive to give myself time to see if there was anything I could salvage and if there was any visible damage to the housing or the camera lens. The housing seems fine but I’ll probably have to send it back to Ikelite to check the metal electrical/strobe cables to make sure there’s no hidden corrosion. The lens also has some water in it. It’s my beloved 28-105 macro that Nikon no longer makes and which I felt was a great lens to use with the D750. I’ve already been to Nikon here in L.A. and they’ve told me that both the camera and lens are bbeyond repiar. But I’ve also discovered a number of these 28-105 lenses on eBay so I guess that’s my only option. And for those of you thinking “Well at least he has insurance on all of this” . . . uh, no, I don’t. I had been insured with DEPP but they went out of business a while back and because I only got this setup literally the week before we left, I had looked into insurance but never got around to getting any. I mean, what are the odds that something could go wrong???? Lesson learned and an expensive one. In my case, the “D” in “D750” stands for “Drowned.” The lessons for any of you who are fellow photogs – aside from buy the insurance right away – are to get some protocols and procedures down for how you hook up your camera and then follow them to the letter. In my case, I think I may have violated my standard procedures in one of two ways. If the night before I didn’t fully hook things back up and just figured I snap the latches in the morning, that was a big error. I counsel people to never turn their air off once the regulator is hooked up because you don’t wasn’t it to look like it’s ready to go dive when it’s not. The same principle applies to cameras. Don’t leave them in a state where they look like they’re ready to go underwater but they’re not. Either fully seal everything up or leave it in such an obvious state of not-ready-to-dive (port off camera, camera not in housing, whatever) that it would be impossible to assume it’s ready to go. If my mistake was made in the morning, then it was because I allowed myself to become distracted from the task at hand. My rule of thumb is that I don't talk to anyone else while I’m assembling the camera and I know I violated that that morning. It means I wasn't fully concentrating on the camera. I had snapped the down camera back latch but what I failed to notice was that the pin in the snap had popped over the latch and hadn’t really caught. So the latch itself was flat and locked but not connected to the camera back and that left that corner open which allowed the water to rush in. Had I not been Chatty Cathy that morning, I likely would have caught that and the flood wouldn’t have happened. So while it was a sad day, all was not lost because I had another (brand new) camera with me which was my GoPro Hero4 Black. At the risk of making this a camera report rather than a trip report, let me share some thoughts with you on that. GOPRO AS A VIDEO CAMERA In a word: Excellent. I had previously shot with a Hero2 and it seems to me that results from the Hero4 are much better. The video is crisp and lifelike and you can choose between four lens angle/lengths: Superview, Wide, Medium, and Narrow. You can vary the resolution from 4K down to VGA (I shot everything at HD 1080P 60fps). You can vary frame rate, you can play with the white balance and color temperature, the display on the back of the camera (I added on the full-color monitor) is much-improved over the Hero2, and the battery life seems to be better as well. On the Hero2, I’d kill a battery (with the monitor running at all times) in a little under an hour. With the Hero4, I still had juice at the end of an hourlong dive. I shot video every day and assembled some edited videos over the course of the trip. I was really happy with the quality of each of them and would call the Hero4 Black a huge hit if you’d like a small camera that can produce some high-quality video. (I did think the Superview gave too much of a fisheye look and didn’t use that at all.) I assembled the videos in Windows Live Movie Maker which as limitations, but was good for a quick-and-dirty edit. And because I also used it as a still camera, a few thoughts on that. GOPRO AS A STILL CAMERA In a phrase: Not-so-good. I was able to get some very good pictures from the GoPro, as you’ll see when you look through the SmugMug slide show of the trip. But the still picture ability of the camera is spotty at best and there are numerous limitations you need to learn to work around. And I find it puzzling that a camera that can consistently produce such wonderful, crisp video shots, can’t do the same consistently in Photo mode. The first thing I noticed, based on the EXIF information, is that the aperture is fixed at f2.8. Although this would seem to limit depth-of-field, it doesn’t as far as I can tell. Objects from about a foot out to infinity seemed to my eye to be in focus. But with such a wide lens opening, you’d also think you’d get fairly fast shutter speeds to help freeze the action. Not so. I rarely got anything faster than 1/30 and frequently got speeds as slow as 1/3. Underwater, even though the lens is short (EXIF data says it’s a 3mm lens with a 35mm equivalent of 15mm in Wide and 20mm in Medium), it’s almost impossible to hold the camera that steady underwater, especially if you’re suspended mid-water, and that meant a lot of shots were blurry due to camera movement or subject movement or both. The camera will also alter ISO at the same time and while you would think it would give you a high ISO to allow for a faster shutter speed, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, it seemed to want to leave the shutter speed fairly slow and raises the ISO to account for differences in light levels. I’d rather it was the other way around. The final issue I had with it as a still camera is that there is no option for Narrow. Your only choices are Wide (12MP and 7MP) or Medium (7MP or 5MP). It’s fairly impossible to shoot anything small. For the shots I got of a yellow Leaf Scorpionfish, I had to have the camera maybe 6 inches away from him (with a +10 macro lens on) and then you run the risk of going closer than the minimum focus distance for the camera. So overall, better than nothing, but a fairly difficult camera to use for stills with many limitations that affect what subjects you can shoot and how you can shoot them. In short, it’s a lot of work and planning/thinking to get an acceptable picture. And much more work than it ought to be for a camera that’s basically pitched as point-and-shoot.
  15. I've finally gotten everything up on our Reef Seekers website (as well as SmugMug and YouTube) and it's ready for your dining and dancing pleasure, including the sad tale of the D750 flood. Here ya go: YAP & PALAU 2015 TRIP REPORT - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Yap%20&%20Palau%202015/Yap%20&%20Palau%202015%20trip%20report.html YAP & PALAU PICTURE PAGE (with links to SmugMug slideshows & YouTube videos) - http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Yap%20&%20Palau%202015/Yap%20&%20Palau%202015%20pix%20and%20video%20links.htm YAP PIX SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW (direct link) - http://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/Other/Yap-2015-100-image-slide-show/48280839_m53mxR#!i=3958773991&k=tnQB8gf PALAU PIX SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW (direct link) - http://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/Underwater/PALAU-2015-100-image-slide/48288404_fZXDBM#!i=3959671167&k=74q4rM6 YAP SHARK FEED VIDEO (direct YouTube link) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dc6A85yLq8 BLUE CORNER IN PALAU VIDEO (direct YouTube link) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZQi49hDTWs JELLYFISH LAKE IN PALAU VIDEO (direct YouTube link) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOzrcTQbwLw Enjoy!!! - Ken
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