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Corey McNabb

Headed to St. Thomas; First shoot with new S&S housing...

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Hello all,

 

Since my last series of posts, I have bought a D300 and a Sea & Sea housing for it. (I didn't think I wanted to house one of my D3s, so had asked if I should house a D2X or pick up a D300... I did the latter). I also bought the 9.5" dome port and a ys-250 strobe. I'll probably be using the 12-14mm and the 10.5mm, as I'm guessing they would be easier options for shooting people underwater (and since I have yet to buy a port for my 105mm).

 

I'm primarily a wedding photographer, and on occasion shoot honeymoons too. It was on a honeymoon shoot this past summer that I first fell in love with underwater photography using a housed point and shoot. I have booked the coverage of another couple's honeymoon, and in a couple of weeks, will be heading to St. Thomas for a few days. This will be the first shoot with the new housing. I have not finished my scuba training, nor will I have a lot of personal time while there, so will only be snorkeling.

 

So, I'd be delighted to receive your advice...

 

I may not be taking the strobe, but if I do, I have yet to purchase the sync cord... so which one will I need, and do I have to have the ttl converter too if I just want to use the light manually or can I just use the cord from the housing directly to the ys-250?

 

Does anyone have good recommendations as to where in St. Thomas would be good spots for snorkeling?

 

Any tips, concerns, or tricks for the housing's first trip (traveling with the dome port, first water entry tips, etc.)?

 

I've also seen several very thorough and in-depth reports on the logistics of light and dome ports, but is there a short answer as to whether or not I need a diopter, and if so which, with the Nikon 12-24 and the 9.5" dome port?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Corey

Edited by Corey McNabb

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on occasion shoot honeymoons too.

 

That must be interesting! Hi Corey, first and most important before you take your housing into the ocean for the first time you have to be sure to make an offering to Neptune. It is said by many that he prefers rum. A few ounces drizzled over the housing right before the first immersion does wonders. You have to promise him you won't hurt any of his creatures and that you only want to capture the benefits of his creation so all the landlubbers can appreciate him. Heck, a little prayer can't hurt. Of course you do this after you've double checked everything and taken the housing for a dip in the resort pool just to make sure.

Your going to have fun dragging the rig around snorkeling. It's a little harder to shoot up on a snorkel, the tendency for brand new folks is to shoot down at everything and it just won't look as good as you expect. Try exposing for the midwater blue background and just use the strobe for fill. Since you'll be above 40 ft most of the time you might consider using a Magic filter and leaving the strobe in the room for a couple of dives. You'll need to get a 5-Pin Single Sync Cord - Nikonos Type --(I think it's SS part no. 17100) for the YS-250 if your going to use the strobe.

 

Main thing is to relax and have fun. Probably the same thing you tell your grooms at the weddings. ;) That reminds me, the other thing you probably tell your couples occasionally "Get closer together" I know your a pro but the 10.5 in the ocean is going to look different than you might expect. Just remember to "Get closer" The less water between you and the subject the better the image quality.

 

Have a ball, Good luck,

Steve

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Too bad you're going to the 'other island' ;) Im on St Croix right now.

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Most of the great snorkeling I have done in the past was off of St. John. St. John is almost within a rocks-throw of St. Thomas, and it's a very easy island to get to. The shallower the reef is, the closer you'll be to it and as long as you're careful with your rig you'll be just fine. U/W photography is a learning curve, but it's a wonderful experience and is one that I know you'll enjoy. Have fun in St. Thomas!

 

Dustin

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I know it seems like an additional layer of complexity, but if you are free-diving (go on, say it, it sounds much sexier than snorkelling...) have you considered leaving off the strobe and using a filter - URPro or Magic, and shooting with the sun over your shoulder? At a depth of 6-10' you can get away without a filter, but you may need to bring up the colour in post-processing, usually a pain for the professional!

 

I have found it very difficult to shoot macro or close-up free-diving, and suggest sticking to a wide-angle (less than 20mm focal length with a cropped sensor) or fisheye. Setting up a strobe is difficult if you can't spend 30-60 seconds stationary in front of your subject, and strobe arms are awkward to handle, too.

 

If you have browsed some old topics, you will see that the 12-24mm Nikkor is unpopular as it can give fuzzy edges, 'though it's better in a bigger dome. Depending on the set-up it seems to work better with a +2 - +4D close-up lens, even though the housing manufaturers claim that you don't need a diopter. I quite like it, but I'm in a minority. I've posted some examples elsewhere in Wetpixel.

 

Tim

 

:)

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Carey,

 

Steve's advice is right on, as usual.

 

I'd like to add you might want to consider using Chris Sawyer Diving (http://www.sawyerdive.vi/index.htm), as they are camera-friendly and you'll end up at some good spots. They're located in Red Hook at American Yacht Harbor.

 

An alternative, if you truly want to snorkel from shore, would be to meet up with Homer Calloway (http://www.nightsnorkel.com/), as he does a good bit of shore-based snorkeling and diving, generally in Hull Bay on the north side of the island.

 

Have a great time. Wish I was spending some time on St. Thomas again.

 

Mark

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Too bad you're going to the 'other island' :unsure: Im on St Croix right now.

 

Bummer! That would have been fun to meet up. My clients did mention taking a ferry to St. John, but that doesn't really help either.

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Most of the great snorkeling I have done in the past was off of St. John. St. John is almost within a rocks-throw of St. Thomas, and it's a very easy island to get to. The shallower the reef is, the closer you'll be to it and as long as you're careful with your rig you'll be just fine. U/W photography is a learning curve, but it's a wonderful experience and is one that I know you'll enjoy. Have fun in St. Thomas!

 

Dustin

 

Thanks, Dustin. As we may be taking a ferry to St. John... do you have a favorite spot there?

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I know it seems like an additional layer of complexity, but if you are free-diving (go on, say it, it sounds much sexier than snorkelling...) have you considered leaving off the strobe and using a filter - URPro or Magic, and shooting with the sun over your shoulder? At a depth of 6-10' you can get away without a filter, but you may need to bring up the colour in post-processing, usually a pain for the professional!

 

I have found it very difficult to shoot macro or close-up free-diving, and suggest sticking to a wide-angle (less than 20mm focal length with a cropped sensor) or fisheye. Setting up a strobe is difficult if you can't spend 30-60 seconds stationary in front of your subject, and strobe arms are awkward to handle, too.

 

If you have browsed some old topics, you will see that the 12-24mm Nikkor is unpopular as it can give fuzzy edges, 'though it's better in a bigger dome. Depending on the set-up it seems to work better with a +2 - +4D close-up lens, even though the housing manufaturers claim that you don't need a diopter. I quite like it, but I'm in a minority. I've posted some examples elsewhere in Wetpixel.

 

Tim

 

:unsure:

 

Hi Tim, thanks for the advice! Yes, I may try a filter on one of my free-dives (ha, see, I'm catching on!) and a strobe on another. I don't have another destination job lined up soon, so figure I'll try out a few things while I have the chance.

 

As for the diopters, can you link me to some of your samples please?

 

Thanks again!

 

Corey

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Carey,

 

Steve's advice is right on, as usual.

 

I'd like to add you might want to consider using Chris Sawyer Diving (http://www.sawyerdive.vi/index.htm), as they are camera-friendly and you'll end up at some good spots. They're located in Red Hook at American Yacht Harbor.

 

An alternative, if you truly want to snorkel from shore, would be to meet up with Homer Calloway (http://www.nightsnorkel.com/), as he does a good bit of shore-based snorkeling and diving, generally in Hull Bay on the north side of the island.

 

Have a great time. Wish I was spending some time on St. Thomas again.

 

Mark

 

 

Awesome, thanks!!

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That must be interesting! Hi Corey, first and most important before you take your housing into the ocean for the first time you have to be sure to make an offering to Neptune. It is said by many that he prefers rum. A few ounces drizzled over the housing right before the first immersion does wonders. You have to promise him you won't hurt any of his creatures and that you only want to capture the benefits of his creation so all the landlubbers can appreciate him. Heck, a little prayer can't hurt. Of course you do this after you've double checked everything and taken the housing for a dip in the resort pool just to make sure.

Your going to have fun dragging the rig around snorkeling. It's a little harder to shoot up on a snorkel, the tendency for brand new folks is to shoot down at everything and it just won't look as good as you expect. Try exposing for the midwater blue background and just use the strobe for fill. Since you'll be above 40 ft most of the time you might consider using a Magic filter and leaving the strobe in the room for a couple of dives. You'll need to get a 5-Pin Single Sync Cord - Nikonos Type --(I think it's SS part no. 17100) for the YS-250 if your going to use the strobe.

 

Main thing is to relax and have fun. Probably the same thing you tell your grooms at the weddings. :unsure: That reminds me, the other thing you probably tell your couples occasionally "Get closer together" I know your a pro but the 10.5 in the ocean is going to look different than you might expect. Just remember to "Get closer" The less water between you and the subject the better the image quality.

 

Have a ball, Good luck,

Steve

 

Steve,

 

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Rum, you say? Nuf said, I'm in! I knew I'd like underwater photography!

 

Thanks again,

 

Corey

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My current dive shop owner just closed up our dive shop (so maybe not so current I suppose) and moved to St. John to teach diving down there. It may be possible to take a few days and actually get certified down there with him, but I have no idea of your schedule. I was one of Michael's most utilized divemasters at our shop, and I can assure you he's an amazing (PADI) instructor.

 

The only name of a spot that I recall doing any snorkeling was Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is rated (as the locals will tell you anyhow) as one of the top 10 beaches in the world; it's very beautiful. As for other snorkeling locations however, I don't recall their names really and for that, I am sorry. The sites that I visited weren't far from Trunk Bay however, and some of my best underwater film photos came from St. John. There's a lot of really neat history in St. Thomas and St. John that I'm sure you'll pick up on as well, again, from the local people on the island(s). They were used during a lot of the pirate days for rum running, trading and fighting. About 4 years ago, PADI's Sport Diver publication had a great several page article on dozens of ship wrecks out there between St. Thomas and St. John. In my opinion, you won't go wrong diving and or snorkeling. With a camera setup like yours, you deserve to have it in the water. :lol: Splash with confidence my friend and enjoy your stay on the islands!

 

Dustin

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Hi Corey

Try Coki Beach for snorkeling. I dove there a few years back and parts of the reaf are fairly shallow. I checked my logbook and my deepest depth was 43'. There is a dive operator right on the beach called Coki Beach Dive Club and there was also another outfit right next to them that rented snorkeling equipment but I don't know there name. And with regards to the rum, I believe that after the dive it is also approprite to drink to christen yourself!

Have fun

Mike

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Hi Corey,

 

I agree with Beach Bum. I worked as a dive instructor on STT for 4 years and you won't find a better spot then Coki beach for snorkeling. If you stick to the rocks that separate the beach from coral world you will find a good amount of marine life. Octopus are spotted quite frequently here. The reef starts out about 20 yards off the beach and runs parallel to it dropping off gradually if you head towards coral world. If you wanted to try another spot you could do Sapphire. Not as good but I almost always see turtles, southern stingrays, and eagle rays here which you don't get as much at Coki. If you head to St. John my favorite place there to snorkel is Waterlemon bay. It's always a hit. Have fun and if you have any questions about the island let me know and I can try to help you out.

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