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Bill Macdonald

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Bill Macdonald last won the day on July 10 2012

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About Bill Macdonald

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    Venice, CA

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  • Camera Model & Brand
    HDC-1 (2 x) 1080i, PD-150
  • Camera Housing
    Sea & Sea (2x), L&M Bluefin
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    HDI lights : Keldan Luna 8, Light & Motion HID, Darkbuster, Green Force, Sea & Sea BLX 55 HID
  • Accessories
    Ultra Light arms (2) with StiX floats, .35 w/a lens Sea & Sea with StiX lens floats for neutrality.
  1. Life is Good! I was able to get from Sea & Sea / Tusa the phone # for Devon Thompkins at the newly opened Pacific Housing Repair (831) 751-3885. He assured me that the problem is a minor repair, can do later, and has nothing to do with the "O ring" integrity. True enough, I just made a dive in a new site here in Lembeh with good results. The camera goes on & off fine no taping needed. But once again drew, you are right, a kit of spares should be added to my list of stock gear, besides the o-ring package. So, today from lice on a sponge to wide angle shots, I was able to capture it all. Housing systems are like family, you never want to put them at risk. Being able, once again, to get help from WETPIXEL and Sea & Sea responding immediately with the contact info was huge. It helps that I am teaching u/w video here and reminded Sea & Sea that I am using their housing as an example of a flexible system (c/u - w/a). I also made the issue part of the class, by showing the students the WETPIXEL site on a big screen, and how from beginner to advanced it is an excellent resource. I pointed to Drew and said he will most likely respond. So the whole episode is a learning experience for all, and the students potential issues in the future. Only one of 10 knew about WETPIXEL before, so now they are tuned in. Lemons to lemonade. Thanks again Drew! BMac BTW: if I unscrewed some small screw it would end up bouncing somewhere out of sight, so I try to operate within my limitations.
  2. Drew; Thanks a bunch for answering the bell on this one. What you describe is precisely how it feels, the housing was recently serviced by Dan Blodgett (Sub Aquatic Camera Repair, Salinas, CA) and pressure tested. Pool test to 8 ft yesterday, and will ocean test today w/o camera, at the KBR house reef, close to the camera room and dock, so I'm not out on a boat to test, in case there is a leak. Next time, hang the charges, I'm bringing back-up. I will email Sea & Sea / Tabata but their authorized repair is no longer repairing (another story). So we shall see with water test. I'm kinda all thumbs when it comes to self repair, wouldn't want to make a bad situation worse. The whole issue of travel with weight restrictions is a new challenge. The other problem I have experienced is NOT having sufficient time between dive excursions to address repair issues before your next departure date. The Japanese "speaking" HC-1 for example had a $ 1000.00 board replacement done twice, and both Sony parts from the main USA distributor (I was told) spoke Japanese, why Sony stocked them here is a good question. The replacement rate of models is moving too fast in my book. I came from 16mm film and over decades we got to know our emulsions and how the film reacted in different situations, now you are almost out of date and your model is discontinued within a child-birth time, less than a year it seems. GRRR. Dive computer, repair issues remain after twice sending to manufacturer (so using back-up there). 50 lbs vs 70 lbs X 2 bags = 40 lbs less gear (back-up). Drew thanks again, really appreciate the consideration. I spoke to Michaela Brockstedt of Wetpixel at DEMA about the assistance I got with the camera issues when the "moisture alarm" gave me headaches in Yap. Less frustrated in Lembeh BMac
  3. Update:No leak during Pool test to 8ft operated control continuously optimistic but still real edgy about this. Bill
  4. Another trip, another head-ache, or avoiding a larger head-ache The Wetpixel brain trust sure helped when I was in Yap, with moisture issues camera serviced but it speaks japanese to me (no problem) arigato. New dilemma: HC-1 (SEA & SEA) video housing on-off switch clicked this AM whilst I was prepping for another great critter dive. The camera still goes on and off as normal, but the control is floppy AM I AT RISK OF FLOODING??? Rinse tank to 1ft and operate switch several times, no leak Guess the pool is the next step, then ocean test w/o camera but h20 and electronics are not bedfellows. Esp salt h20. I do not want salt water to enter at all, obviously. I do not know the design of the switch as to thru hull or not I am in Lembeh with 8 more days of diving airline weight restrictions pre-cluded a back-up first time no back-up (50 lbs/bag vs. 70 lbs) So here I am, scared absolutely fartless that a leak will kill the system. So, anybody know about this control?? It works, but ...................advise!!!!!!!!! Thanks Bill Macdonald BTW: 3 free swimming frog-fish in blue water was captured as was Mating blue-ring octopus (never even saw one before)
  5. Steve; This will sound old school, but looking through the viewfinder, not employing a monitor, is the way to go for me. I have been dragging around monitors, but never get around to using them underwater, except for the L&M Bluefin. Reason: while monitors are great for framing, they do not provide critical focus and weigh more. I am a fan of neutral buoyancy, and slip-stream diving. Loading yourself up with gear, hinders you from free swimming and capturing the motion with-in the action. Having said that, I also rely on more technology as my eyes suffer from age related issues, for instance, I am glad the follow focus has improved as my eyeball critical focus has slipped somewhat. good luck Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  6. Drew; Lifestyle change indeed. That will get us thinking clearly about the "plastic pollution" problem. But where do folks go for detailed BMPs and other helpful information? Try: http://www.plasticdebris.org/bibliography.html This site is the result of a state wide project a few years ago and has the best information on the "plastic synthetic" dilemma, and urban run-off challenges. There is a video that goes with this site, here's a 5 minute segment from the 25 minute film: The www site above has great links and a way to study this problem in depth. Photographers can best help by shooting pictures that demonstrate the impact of plastic debris. The shot of a turtle choking on a plastic bag has been seen by millions, also photogrphs from Midway island depicting dead albatross chicks with their "bolus" choking with plastic debris have helped. Charismatic megafauna impacts on birds and turtles get big play. What is REALLY needed (IMHO) is a shot of plastic dust particles being ingested at the zooplankton level. Such a photo does not exist. We know that birds fish and turtles confuse plastic for food, but does the zooplankton? If zooplankton consume plastic particles, there is a huge contamination prospect for the entire ocean food web. Any science photographers out there? Hope this helps direct interested individuals to best BMPs and understanding of this dire issue. One thing we do when we travel to Raja Ampat, Halmahera or other remote areas: we take all the plastic wrappers back with us. DV tape plastics, medical plastic, bottle cap wrappings, etc get put in a zip lock and are used for padding. Not put in the general vessel / resort trash. Not a difficult thing to do when traveling. Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  7. Drew; If by some magical switch we could stop plastic pollution, the scientists I know theorize that plastic debris would still wash up on our shores for 100s of years. Dr Sylvia A Earle said "That if Columbus had sailed with disposable plastic ware, we would still have chip remnants floating onto beaches". Captain Moore coined the phrase: "Plastics, Like Diamonds, are forever!" Global warming has its own problems for the world ocean, and floating within is what I call the "Synthetic Time Bomb" ......... tick, tick, ticking away! Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  8. Drew; Plastic is a problem for the world ocean not just the Pacific. But it is everybody's problem on the Pacific rim, relative to the trash gyre systems. The NE Pacific gyre that Captain Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation has studied has had an exponential rise in plastic debris when compared to plankton (food) in the recent scientific trawl studies. As plastic drifts in the ocean it accumulates toxins, and photo-degrades into smaller sizes. This is how plastic can break down and resemble food as to size, shape, and color in the form of drifting "toxic" chips. If you investigate the sand on Hawaiian beaches, you can see there are plastic chips in the sand, and most of the colors are blues, clears, white, & black. The reds and yellow chips are missing or fewer in number, which leads scientists to conclude that the warm colors resemble food items like squid and krill and are eaten, Researchers know there are red and yellow items drifitng off shore. It's a real serious CSI (Contaminated Sea Investigation) Plastic bags mimic jelly fish and are fed on by adult turtles. In addition, the bags are guilty of choking storm drains when it rains and are a big reason urban areas flood during storms. Here is a link to a film that I produced to explain the problem: I used to see this problem as I dove locally and internationally, and thought it was a visual issue. Now that I have read the scientific papers on the issue I am haunted by the implications. A uptick in the problem has occurred due to rotational molding industries and the use of "plastic dust" in manufacture. When the dust escapes into the environment it enters the watershed. The dust is much smaller than the standard plastic pellet commonly used as industrial feed stock. And, as a synthetic plastic the dusts will absorb toxins, and so small as to become infused into sea creatures (via food chain,or simply breathing). Unfortunately the larger pellets (called nurdles) become toxic as well, mostly float near the surface and resemble fish eggs. Bad news all around. Burning and microwaving plastics have additional toxic "paybacks" of dioxin and BPA release. And this story: There was a report out of Jakarta that some street vendors were adding a plastic bag to their deep fry oil that makes the plantains (fried bananas) crispy for 4 hours more. But they were uncovered. Go figure! What can photo-divers do? Take that picture that depicts "ingestion" or entanglements. If someone can document zooplankton ingesting plastic dust.............. that would be great. Otherwise by sincere apologies for perhaps upsetting your day. As a "techie" Drew, you should be able to grasp this immediately. Bill Macdonald
  9. Eric Well I just completed the final photo-dive here in Yap and I am happy to report that by keeping the camera inside the housing was the best approach, and I never had a shutdown during dive time. Since it would take 3-4 hours to clear the alarm problem when I had to swap-out cassettes and charge the battery, I became way more selective in my shooting (like the 16 mm days) and used the topside unit to charge the battery. So after a day of diving I would still have enough tape for day two, so I just swapped the battery. Worked perfectly. This trip reinforced what Bill Acker and Larry Smith had emphasized about summer diving in Yap, best conditions for diving around the island. Take your pick of sites. So I am returning with better material than the previous trips here, since we had so many opportunities. Thanks to the support from "Wetpixelites" I never lost heart. Nice to have a support and research entity to call upon. I have learned way more about this site and it is great to have such a resource. Just thought I would put the HC-1 alarm issue to closure, all is well in production land. See you in San Diego for the SDUFEX show. Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac www.macdonaldproductions.com www.macdonalddesign.com
  10. Craig; Thanks for the reply. It is an interesting subject, and to apply filters as a trial is certainly not a budget buster, so I will give it a whirl. My next expedition is in Lembeh for its bizarre denizens and not blue water, so it gives me a chance to research this further. As you said there is a series of discussions already posted. As a newbie to Wetpixel forums I am gaining a deeper understanding as what this site offers. The lighting package you described certainly was a serious system. I am beyond lugging large systems, and altho I own an FX-1 HDV, I will not house it for diving. The system I have is bulk enough and the airline restrictions will not get any easier for photo-divers. I am sold on my Luna 8 Keldan lights, and have a way to employ them in super wide angle (I cheat). I light the foreground as a frame, switching from right to left in different shots and mostly employ soft corals or feather stars for the color, while the subject or scene action is going on in the background. This gives the viewer / audience more eye candy. But that's just the style I have adapted. Edi Frommenwiler on Pindito was my mentor in this, so I cannot take credit for its creation. He's the best underwater shooter I currently dive with, and has the facilities (vessel), location (Raja Ampat), knows and shares the secret spots with me, can find the critters, and can capture subjects both large and small on the same dive. However, he is able to do this on a daily basis whilst his crew and dive masters cater to the guests. I don't recall him using filters tho. In my original post regarding still photographers, I was trying to say I didn't think they would use red filters instead of strobes. But you were right to advise me on their positive application, so I will give it a whirl after additional research. Thanks again. Who says you can't teach an old sea dog new tricks!!! Shine a Light!! Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac www.macdonaldproductions.com www.macdonalddesign.com
  11. Ronscuba; Since you have lights, here's a cool thing to try with wide angle. It has to do with framing. Find a nice w/a pov near a rock or reef with a splash of color Frame the shot with the edge of the frame near the reef Shine the light on then close "colorful edge", (best with the wide screen) You can use a feather star, sponge, tunicate, anemone, whatever for color with the main pov or action (like your dive buddy) in the central background Could be fun Shine a Light! Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  12. Craig; True enough! I am not suggesting these lights are good for all scenarios. And I am very open to suggestions, and perhaps combinations would work better. Which filter(s) would you suggest that would help attain the best color? Over the years I have tried many u/w lights, and each time there seemed to be issues. In 16mm film days (70's) we used to have giant battery tubes (32V)strapped to our tanks and used aircraft landing lights @ 450 Watts, but they were very heavy, and you lost hydrodynamics. But I was younger then and now I want gear small enough to carry on flights. When I got into video I was a fan of Elwin Gates' housings, and still am. But he never came out with lighting packages, so I tried many systems. Many lighting packages came and went (some discontinued due to safety issues) and we were often left holding the bag. Now that I dive primarily in clearer water, save for Lembeh, I enjoy the fill light look. The Luna 8 lights are perfect for me, powerful enough for my needs, no hot spots with diffusion and ideal for the Lembeh critters. There are no connections and the burn times are 120 - 180 minutes, enough for 3 dives. There are no wires or battery pack mounts or thru hull connections. The workmanship is, well, Swiss like. I have had well over 100 hours each with Luna 8's and no issues besides bulb replacements. Easy to mount on The Ultra Light arms with StiX floats. Otherwise w/o lights and just a cc filter, video looks kinda flat to me. And I have seen and heard the groans from folks on a trip who are unsatisfied with their cc filter results. BTW: what lights did you use with 16,000 lumens x 2? Burn times? Weight? Thanks! Shine a Light Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  13. Wolfeeldiver; Yes, these new L & M lights look promising, and I plan to see them at DEMA. The actual dates for DEMA are October 22-25, 2008. Good post! Shine a Light! Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac
  14. Wolfeeldiver, The bottom line: does what you see on the screen, esp in HDV, please you? If not then how do you improve? Video is usually more demanding than stills in terms of post (production). Many of the videographers I see along the way are not properly equipped, and they are spending much time & $$ getting to choice locations. Good lights are a must for video, not an if in my book, and since you have subjects large and small, you must be prepared to capture both during your time underwater. Further, it amazes me that the are clueless when it comes to editing and logging. Patience is the rule of thumb, and to me it applies not only to working with subjects and critters, schools of fish, etc. u/w but in working with your clips and editing. Shooting video for playback with family and friends is one thing, but putting together a program for an audience of peers is quite another. Having said that, I think that there is much need for video shooters to communicate ocean stories and to promote marine awareness. In short, there are stories to tell. So shooting is just the start of a long process if you wish to tell good stories. We all have our unique perspective. Shine a Light! Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac www.macdonaldproductions.com www.macdonalddesign.com (My son Dustin's site)
  15. Ronscuba; I have a super wide Sea & Sea X0.35 lens Like I said, I do not use a red filter, ever Always lights (HID) My best performing lights are the Swiss made Keldan Luna 8 with the diffusion filter, there is no border when using two Luna 8s nice soft transition. www.keldanlights.com Luna 8 burn times per charge 120 minutes on high power, 180 minutes on low power (and there are other power selections in between) I have never had a Luna 8 run out during a dive, after charging all night. For my L&M Bluefin I use the SUNray H.I.D., nice and reliable, and made to fit the housing but there is a visible light border I also have the Sea & Sea BLX (H.I.D.) and std tungsten heads for this (heavy and too many connections - problematical) I have a Darkbuster H.I.D., can be used topside, but it's bulky (I am on location now, and the Darkbuster is back in CA) it also has issues with hot spots, so I diffuse them. I have a Green Force HID, but it is bulky, tho reliable You can take a standard non-HID tungsten lamp and convert it to "white light" by adding a blue gel filter, a cheap way to go for a daylight look. Bottom line, as you can see I am well stocked with lights and have had many headaches (non performance) and shoulder aches from dragging this stuff around u/w Hope this helps Bill Macdonald www.youtube.com/007bmac www.macdonaldproductions.com
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