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Ken Kurtis

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Ken Kurtis last won the day on June 28

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About Ken Kurtis

  • Rank
    Wolf Eel
  • Birthday 05/20/1951

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    Ken Kurtis
  • Website URL
    https://kenkurtis.smugmug.com/

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Beverly Hills, CA

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  • Show Country Flag:
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  • Camera Model & Brand
    Nikon D750 (D610 for land), GoPro Hero9 for video
  • Camera Housing
    Ikelite
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    Dual Sea & Sea YS-D1s (which I love)
  • Industry Affiliation
    NAUI Instructor #5936

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  1. BONAIRE 2022 TRIP REPORT, VIDEO, & PIX LINKS TWARS (This Week at Reef Seekers) will follow shortly but in the meantime . . . We've been back for a week now from our fabulous trip to Bonaire and have the trip report, a video, and the SmugMug slide show ready for your dining and dancing pleasure. Remember that the slideshow can either be viewed as a collage, or your can click on individual pictures for a full-screen version of that shot. You can also activate a full-screen slideshow if you like. Here are the links: BONAIRE 2022 TRIP REPORT BONAIRE 2022 VIDEO BONAIRE 2022 SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW Enjoy!!! (We certainly did.) - Ken
  2. Good news and bad news about Customs (not Immigration - that part couldn't have been easier taking all of 10 seconds). They don't seem to be actively "hunting" as they were the last time I was down there about a year ago. No one working the line asking what you had or if there was a big camera or anything like that. I personally this time decided to chance it and took my D750 and housing, my D610 (land/surface cam), and my GoPro. I also keep a $100 bill and a couple of $50s handy thinking if push comes to shove, I slap it down and say, "Will this cover it? I don't need a receipt." I got a green light and was waved on through. But one of our guys ahead of me got a red light so they directed him to put his bags through x-ray. They then had him open things up because he has a u-shaped handle/tray for his GoPro that they thought looked like a weapon. I'm unclear about how all of this went downhill but the short version is they were in animated discussion (I was watching) for a good half hour and then they took him through a door marked TAX COLLECTION and he ended up paying $50. It seems it was all about the GoPro. IMHO, I'd consider the $50 to be a nuisance fee. Yes, it's not right. But from a practical standpoint, if you've spend $10K on your gear and maybe another $5K on your trip, isn't it worth $50 just to get this over with and get on your way? Yes, I know the stories about people being hit up for big bucks. But it seems to me most of what I've heard about are people paying under $100. Be polite, be co-operative, smile, joke, don't argue, say "No comprende" or "I didn't know a lot," be a dumb American, and go on your way.
  3. We had a really nice Socorro trip on the Nautilus Under Sea March 12-20. Aside from the usual mantas and sharks galore, we also got a Whale Shark and an incredible dolphin encounter - which still leaves me amazed - so how can you complain? Plus we had a fairly nice ride down and a nice ride back up to Cabo so everything worked out well. And we had a really good group of people and a wonderful crew so who could ask for more? I've got the trip report done, the pictures are posted, and I've also posted a copy of the Nautilus-created trip video (which used a lot of our stills). Here are the links to those if you'd like to peruse any or all: SOCORRO 2022 TRIP REPORT SOCORRO 2022 SMUGMUG SLIDESHOW SOCORRO 2022 NAUTILUS TRIP VIDEO
  4. Depends on where I am and what I'm shooting. On this trip, mostly 28-100. There was a colorful Leather bass I was shooting at 66mm. then a manta came by and headed right for me and I got him at 28mm. But maybe I'm in Bonaire and I shoot a Tarpon at 28mm but then turn around and find a seahorse and shoot it at 105mm. Very versatile lens (and from 50-105 will shoot 1:1 macro at close-focus).
  5. Hi Bob, Thanks for the kind words. As you now know, I shoot a D750. I am personally NOT a fan of wide/wide angle or close-focus wide angle. I did 18 dives over five days on this trip. I shot 18-35 on one dive, used my GoPro (various POVs) on 5 dives, and used my beloved discontinued Nikon 28-105 on 12 dives. So much of what you saw still-pix was 28-105 at various zoomed in or out focal lengths. All post-processing done in Lightroom-6.
  6. I'd say the range was good+ to excellent. No real complaints. And what a number of us became addicted to were the mugs of hot spiced apple cider offered post-dive and as a drink option at meals. Yummy!!!
  7. Thanks for the kind words. The answer to your question is "No, but . . ." They were definitely on the hunt. They were asking everyone, before you push the red/green light button, what was in your bags. I replied "Scuba gear." They immediately asked if I had cameras. I said yes. they asked if I had big housings. I truthfully - but incompletely - said, "I have a GoPro." They said, "OK" and I pushed the button (which was green). End of story for me. I had warned all of our folks about the issue and I did hear the next day (two of our people came in a day after the main group) that there was a guy who had camera gear and was either singled out or got a red light who was arguing with them about it. Now, apparently what they wanted to ding her for was $40. I could live with that. (In fact, I had two $50 bills stashed in my pocket just in case I need to provide some . . . encouragement . . . to pass through.) So it's still wrong, but $40 is a far cry from the stories we were hearing of $1,000 a year or so ago. Don't know if that's still happening. All I can say is that this is what our experience was. - Ken
  8. SOCORRO 2021 TRIP REPORT, PIX, & VIDEO (LINKS) We just returned from a wonderful adventure exploring the waters of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, better known generically as the Socorro Island. We had a "Manta-tastic" time. The trip report is the same as what was in the newsletter (just formatted differently). The pix are on my SmugMug page and the video resides on YouTube. Enjoy!!! And let me know if you have questions or comments. (And note that we're returning on the same boat in March of 2022 in case this all inspires you.) SOCORRO 2021 TRIP REPORT SOCORRO 2021 SMUGMUG PIX & SLIDESHOW SOCORRO 2021 VIDEO (2½ MINUTES - SPEAKERS ON) - Ken
  9. Thanks for the dome thoughts. haven't really thought about this much since that Nov 2019 trip. One immediate issue would be that I normally shoot with warming filters that snap on over the GoPro dive housing. Don't think that's an option with a dome.
  10. In late January, we spent eight days exploring the reefs around Puerto Galera and Dumaguete in the Philippines as the guest of Atlantis Resorts. This was different from our "normal" trips, as you'll read below. Enjoy!!! And let me know if you have questions or comments. PHILIPPINES 2020 TRIP REPORT PHILIPPINES 2020 SMUGMUG PIX & SLIDESHOW
  11. Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask . . . We just got spent six days exploring the fabulous marine preserve of Cabo Pulmo, which is located roughly halfway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz on the western side of the Sea of Cortez (eastern side of Baja, Mexico). It's a really fishy place. This was different from our "normal" trips, as you'll read below. Enjoy!!! And let me know if you have question or comments. CABO PULMO 2019 TRIP REPORT CABO PULMO 2019 SMUGMUG PIX & SLIDESHOW CABO PULMO 2019 VIDEO #1: THE SCHOOLING JACKS OF LOS MORROS CABO PULMOS 2019 VIDEO #2: DIVING THE VENCEDOR WRECK - Ken
  12. International, LAX-SJD. (That's why I had to go through Customs. On domestic flights, you don't.)
  13. Just returned from Cabo Pulmo (Nautilus Gallant Lady) and the upshot was this: 1. Made it through Cabo Customs without getting dinged for extra gear but they were definitely fishing. Asking lots of questions in broken English with the word "housing" in there. I just kept smiling and saying "small" and "GoPro". Plus I got the green light when I pushed the button. 2. Was able to use strobes at all times in Cabo Pulmo. Turned them off voluntarily when shooting Bull Sharks but no issues from the guide or anyone else. That being said, during the three dives and 12 dives we did in Pulmo, none of the official Park "minders" showed up to observe us so maybe we got off easy.
  14. I don't think any of this was with the 4, all 7. One work-around is to put the cam in LINEAR and zoom in before you put it in the housing. BUT . . . you have to leave the camera on because if you turn it off, it defaults back to the zoomed-out position and the distortion at the edges returns.
  15. (From my November Reef Seekers newsletter. Thought I'd share here for any thoughts/comments/insights.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ GOPRO HERO 7 THOUGHTS To steal from Charles Dickens: “It was the best of cams, it was the worst of cams.” Just before our Maldives trip, I decided to upgrade from my GoPro Hero4 and go with the GoPro Hero7. The reason was that the 7 was supposed to have an upgraded and improved video processor plus it offered image stabilization (called Hypersmooth), which wasn’t available on the 4. The other improvement was that the 7 was watertight down to 33 feet while the 4 was not. A week after I got the camera, GoPro came out with the Hero8 but the differences between the 7 and the 8 are very minor IMHO and many - like adding an external light, an external top-mounted monitor, and front-facing microphone - have no application underwater. I have always used my Hero4 mounted on a tray with video lights attached at each end. The tray was actually wide enough, and had multiple drilled holes, that I was able to mount BOTH the 4 and the 7 on the tray side-by-side so I could initially do some simultaneous video tests. I was able to do this on one of our dives at the Aquarium of the Pacific in our Tropical exhibit. By shooting both cameras simultaneously, I could get a true A/B comparison. To my eye, the 7 looked a bit better than the 4. (Everything was shot in 1080/30fps.) The colors from the 7 seemed a bit richer and more saturated (in a good way) and the overall exposure was better. On the 4, you’d lose some detail, especially in dark areas. One thing I didn’t like abut the 7 was that you lose a field-of-view choice. On the 4, you have Wide/Medium/Narrow. On the 7, you only have Wide/Linear but they added Superview, which is even wider than Wide but adds a fisheye effect that’s very noticeable - especially if you’re panning the camera or if your subject moves off the edge of the frame - which I don’t like at all. But . . . The 7 adds what I thought was going to be a great feature which is a zoom option in each mode. Now, you won’t have to toggle between FOVs to change your view. You can activate the zoom, slide it to whatever you want within the range, and you’re good to go. Except . . . The only way to do this is through the touchscreen on the back of the 7. And once you put the 7 into the housing (now called the Dive Suit), guess what’s inaccessible? In fact, the biggest drawback to the 7 is that GoPro has given you a lot more control over the image you create . . . BUT . . . almost all of those controls have been moved to the touchscreen. So as soon as you put the camera into the housing, you lose all of that fabulous flexibility. Inside the housing, there’s no way to change the zoom, you can’t alter any of the video settings through ProTune, and you’re basically stuck with whatever you started with. There is a way to change the field of view, but it involves tapping both the shutter and mode buttons at the same time underwater (which is a little clunky to boot), and most of the time when I tried it, I either pushed one too hard and changed the mode to still photo, or pushed the other too hard and ended up turning the camera off. So I ended up just setting the camera in Linear FOV (gets rid of most of the fisheye effect) and dealt with it that way. The first time or two on dives in the Maldives, I kept both the 7 and the 4 mounted on the tray and shot with both. (I had the 4 in Narrow so I had different FOVs to choose from.) But I finally decided that the images I was getting with the 7 were far superior to the 4 and ended up taking the 4 off of the tray and just used the 7. That all being said, and I’m going to do some more fiddling with the camera outside of the housing since you can take it down to 33 feet, to see if the touchscreen will work submerged (GoPro says it won’t), I was really happy with the stuff we shot in the Maldives. We ended up creating five different videos, including one where we essentially kept the came only inches away from a turtle while he grazed around the reef, and everything looked really good. Although I had to pre-set everything before I went under, you can do things like lock in ISO settings so the camera isn’t constantly adjusting for changing light and you can even play with video shutter speeds and white balance if you’re so inclined. But again, everything had to be done before you snap the Dive Suit shut. I also shot everything through a red filter. I found an inexpensive filter set through a company called SandMarc and found them to be as effective as ones I’ve gotten through FlipFilter. The SandMarc ones are definitely cheaper ($30 for a set of five filters - three for day UW varying redness by depth, plus one for green water, and one for night) but since the filter holder snaps over the Dive Suit lens, make sure you tie it down with the provided string. Also the filter slides in the top of the holder through slot but it also slides out too easily as well. So I added a small piece of duct tape over the top to make sure I didn’t lose a filter during a dive. The other thing that’s a vast improvement over the Hero4 is that the Hero7 takes pretty good still pictures. The Hero4 takes fairly crappy UW pix because it generally gives you a very slow shutter speed so everything is blurry. Not so with the Hero7. All the still shots we did generally came out pretty good, although they pixilated a little bit if you blow them up too much or crop in too tightly. But overall, the Hero7 is a huge step above the Hero4 and I’ll look forward to refining my technique and trying other tricks as I play with it more. If you haven’t already seen the videos we shot on this trip, go to the Reef Seekers website home page and click on the “Pix & Videos” link for the Maldives trip. Let me know what you think. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Sample video from the Maldives trip:
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