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FAQs about Underwater Photography: Excursions 

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FAQs on: UW Photography, UW Photography 2
FAQs on: Gear (will split up to cameras, housings, batteries, lenses... later), Technique/s, Selling, Photo Sites, UW Photography References,
Above-water Photography, Digital Photography, Aquatic Videography,


Crying Shame, flooded UW photo rig  11/8/2009
Hello Bob,
Hope all is well there. Here, um, well. We went diving Anacapa yesterday. After the first dive I handed my camera up and it was placed in the rinse tank. Mike was coming up on the other side and his rig was placed on top of mine,
whacking one of the port latches loose. So now the camera, 60mm and Ikelite TTL all look fried.
I of course am going to call Nikon USA tomorrow to see my chances. Given it was freshwater in the tank, do you think I have a shot at a reasonable repair or is the camera likely just toast?
<Is likely gone... my experience has been that the electronics cost about 1/3 of the new body (the lens is gone as well), the labor to repair another third or so... and the loss in faith in the ongoing operation of the flooded body... worth more than the other 1/3... IF you want, you can ask the dive operator for some sort of recompense if it was their employee who tossed all together... You may recall, on our only dive/photo trip together, I always told the staff NOT to place my camera in the communal rinse bucket.>
All our worst fear in UW photog. Had to happen sooner or later, no more rinse tanks for me!!
Scott V.
<Sorry to read/realize your travails. BobF>

Happy new year! Shark ID, UW photography, dive adventures Hey dogfish, <Chris> hope the holidays treated you well and that it was a safe holiday season. things were enjoyable out east. moist sushi did some diving over in the red sea while she was over that way for business. sounds pretty nice. couple things.... 1. can you ID the shark in this picture? I'm guessing it washed up on the beach but I don't know for sure. It's a beach on the Outer Banks, NC. My friends who found it, said it was about 12' in length. They thought it was a great white but I'm not the expert that you are. <Is almost certainly a Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus> 2. I'm looking for a second strobe for my camera rig. what kind of Inon strobe did I borrow from you? <An older model... don't think they produce it anymore... I would look for a recent in-production one... on sale!> 3. Meghan may have a business trip out to HI in Feb/March. Not sure what island her business on and I don't recall which island your place is on. It would be fun to catch up out there if schedules work out. I've a got a friend out there that works in the dive industry and keeps telling me about the night dives with the mantas. sounds really cool!<Please have her email or call me there (808 331 XXXX)... I'll be out that way till 2/19... on the Big Island> 4. scuba cruise 08. I have several ideas.- found another live aboard company. cost a bit more than black beards but the ship is 106'; they have cabins vs. racks; and max pax load is 18. hot showers on the dive deck and nitrox. my thinking is to see how many folks are interested and then decided whether a live aboard will work or to do a land based trip. Bonaire keeps popping into my head since they seem to avoid most of the 'canes. I know you are not on the scuba cruise yahoo group, so I wanted to let you know and also hear your opinion. happy new year and happy diving! Pulls <You as well my friend. Do you have interest in hauling out to the Far East with us/groups in 08? If so, I'll email you the particulars... Cheers, Bob/DF>

Tahiti trip....  Bob, <Howdy> Greetings, my name is Chris Rollison and I'm a member of SCMAS here in Orange County. I was at the Christmas party with the LA club and enjoyed your pictures from your recent Fiji trip. Since then I've been dreaming about making my first trip to the South Pacific. After looking around, the prices to Tahiti right now look killer so that's where the family is headed in early June. <Sounds good, very> The reason for my e-mail is several reasons. First, you jokingly (I think...) mentioned about helping an exporter collect specimens or perhaps that they would export stuff for you. Well Tahiti's not Fiji but I was wondering if you know any exporters in Tahiti that I could contact in case there is a chance I could use them to get coral back to the States.  <I don't... but will cc our msg. here to friends in the trade and ask if there are any. Unfortunately, though many of the islands that make up French Polynesia are not that far from U.S. markets, the costs of operating there are high, limiting> Tahiti could be a marine preserve for all I know as I've not done my homework yet but thought I would ask you first. Most likely I'll be on Moorea and not Tahiti, considering Rangiroa and Manihi also. Your experience with any "must do" dives in any of these locations would be great too. <Are you actually going over to Moorea? Have never dived on the neighboring Tahiti... got to go to the Gauguin house/museum, drink liquers made from pineapple... dive and snorkel as much as you can, for sure> Second, and more importantly, I'm in the market to replace my flooded Nikonos V and also recall your comments about your digital camera. I wanted to get your recommendation on a digital I should consider.  <I would definitely not replace the Nikonos (Nikon even stopped making them a few months back!). See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/digitalpixinput.htm re the Olympus 4040 rig and gear to make it a complete kit> The pictures are just for my own use, no submissions to National Geographic or anything, but would like to be able to make an 8 x 10 if something looks good. With my Nikonos it never fails that when I've got the macro set up on there's a great 35 mm shot and vice versa. Am I correct to assume that digitals can be adjusted underwater between the two settings? <Yes... and this get-up even has the Motomarine Sea & Sea capacity to stick on external lenses (macro, close-up) "wet" (while underwater)> What pixel count should I use to maximize the number of pictures?  <I use 2.15 mega... but the camera will do 4 mega pixels. I store as tiffs...> As I have no laptop, how do I take enough "digital film" with me to last the whole 7 days? <They have storage devices... but do encourage you to bring a laptop... to label, optimize (alter, better) pix topside... borrow one if need be> I know you can edit out the losers but with my Nikonos I'm shooting about 36 pictures per dive to be sure I'm getting something "good". Also, I'm hoping that I can save some money by not getting the latest generation of camera hardware but perhaps a previous generation camera that has what I need but not bleeding edge cost. Obviously the camera requires a housing, what do you use? Are the housings generic or customer specific? <The 3040 fits in the same housing, uses same batteries, storage media... only has a couple of features that I use different than the 4040... sells for a few hundred dollars less.> Sorry for all the questions but I've got a lot of ground to cover and my June departure is only weeks away. I know this isn't aquarium specific but I know you have a lot of good experience in this area and your experience will help me get up to speed faster. Thanks for your response.... <No worries. Let's chat up any "loose ends", questions, concerns you may have. Lots to enjoy here. Bob Fenner> Chris Rollison
Re: Tahiti trip.... (Now Fiji, photography) Bob, What a difference a week makes! After looking more closely at pricing of food, lodging, and diving we've shifted our plans from Moorea to Fiji.  <I understand> We've looked at all the options available and our choice is a small island resort called Treasure Island in the Ammoniac Islands to the West of Vita Levu, an hour north of Nadi by ferry.  <Have been there... a very small, but nice island> It looks like a great place for my non-divers to snorkel and for my freshly certified son to ease into the underwater world. Some of the strong current and deep water dives I read about in other parts of the islands seemed a bit too aggressive for a newbie diver. Have you spent any time in the Mamanuca Islands?  <Yes... some friends have businesses in Latouka (to the north of Nadi), and do stay often with them, dive and collect by day trips from there. Have visited most of the islands in the group, on out to the Yasawa chain> I'm sure the diving there is wonderful, and quite honestly with the new digital camera I'd need only 30' of water and an abundant thriving reef and I'll shoot macros all day. Where were the exporters you mention at the Christmas party located? I thought I recalled them being in "The North".  <Almost all are on the principal island in the south... to be near Air Pacific for air transport...> Anything in Nadi we should visit on our first or last day there? <Yes, "Jack's Souvenirs" in Nadi town, and "First Landing" (a hotel, restaurant in Latouka... Maybe Walt Smith's facility there as well...> Our flight leaves Fiji at 10 PM and the ferry drops us off in the morning I'm sure. Turning now to the digital photography, I'm zeroing in on either the Olympus 3040 or 4040, probably the former, but had a couple questions regarding these. Batteries, what type do you use and what are your techniques for keeping them fresh?  <Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/uwpixfaqs.htm in an area where this rig is described. Both cameras and the Ikelite strobe use four AA batteries. I only utilize NiMH, Nickel Metal Hydrides... at least 1,600AH... rechargeables... get a "smart" fast recharger...> Meaning, some rechargeable have a memory and unless they're fully discharged they don't fully re-charge. <Not modern technology> Obviously the picture taking is done when batteries run out at 60 feet. Also, the media cards, you mentioned shooting at 2.15 mega pixels, assuming you use a 128 meg card, how many shots can you store? <54 per 128 meg card> I assume the camera tells you in some way how many shots are left on the memory card right?  <Yes... is counted down... you can preview and erase at depth if you get that far... 54 is a lot of images per dive> I've also stumbled across the housing from Olympus that is imported to the USA from Japan by a few sources, it's half the price of the Ikelite which was half the price of the Tetra. Heard anything regarding this housing? <Yes, it is the one I use... the newer "Purple" one is better than the older "Red"> Finally, in 25 words or less, which non-automatic features do you find yourself using most on your 4040 to improve the shots underwater. That's a big question I know but at the heart of it is my experience with my Nikonos over the years. Seems that whenever I took the camera out of auto-mode and tried to adjust for something or another the shot was not what I expected more times than not. Clearly with the digital image immediately available the feedback loop is infinitely shorter to help understand what the parameter changes did to the shot. <Mmm, yes... the zoom (just the 3X optical, not the 7X digital), the preview to compose the image, the Programmed settings to check against the Shutter Priority (which is generally what I use)... am out of my 25 words...> In any case, that's what I'd like to know from you, do you keep the camera on auto 95% of the time, but switch it manually when and how for what typically?  <Generally only switch to automatic to check against other options/results... typically shoot at the equivalent of 125th of a second...> Any tips on macros?  <A book full... for now, just practice, reflect on what you see...> Know any good underwater photo sites w/ tips for the new digital photographer?  <There are quite a few. Read the two hundred pages of the CD-ROM Camedia manual... and use your search engines to read about these cameras, models... For now, initial experience, familiarity is what you really need... walk, swim, before you run, dive...> Thanks for your responses, hope I'm not picking on your brain too much.... <A pleasure to share my friend. Bob Fenner> Chris
Re: Tahiti trip.... (U/W Photography)
Bob, thanks for the quick reply, Sundays must be a good day to e-mail you. <Mmm, actually, I treat myself (like eating your Lima Beans before pudding) most anytime by answering queries amongst other less-enjoyable tasks> I've checked out the links you gave me and looked around at the sites that sell the gear....OUCH, I thought Nikonos was expensive!! I'm considering an Ikelite housing instead as they're half the price of the Tetra. <Yes... a bit "clunky", but nice, mechanical controls, easy to see if flooding through the clear Plexi...> I think that a strobe might be out of the budget initially unless I can use my Nikonos strobe somehow, ideas? <Can be adapted to other makes, models... either with a slave or maybe a Nikonos fitting/adapter. Do check with Ikelite here. I've been a fan/customer of theirs for decades. They know their stuff> Couple of things I don't understand, first the filter. Apparently in order to get true colors underwater a red filter is used?  <Mmm, not with still cameras generally... you lose a part of all of an f-stop... and can be tricky to "get the pink out"... in white situations... I don't use red-filters except in video (and the old days of underwater movie filming... yikes, am ancient> This just screws onto the front of the housing? And the underwater lens changing thing is completely baffling, it's a Tetra feature, Olympus feature, what?? <Should only be offered by/for video... you can practice and convince yourself> Are these lenses essentially filters that magnify or curve the view for macro or wide angle shots? do you know a link where I can read more about the lens changing. thanks again for your help..... <Which lenses? The filters are selective optical density plastics. There are some cameras that have underwater capability to change lenses other than top-side... not the same thing. Sea and Sea is one of the former and has a site: http://www.seaandsea.com/ Bob Fenner> Chris

Re: Back to Nudi's.... It's Gymnodoris ceylonica in the Maldives! Wish we were. Bob, my man...I may have missed the memo, but are these photos ones that you have taken in your recent exploits? <Yes, David... am "practicing" (this is an exceedingly kind term) with trying the new scanner (a fab Nikon 4000 ED) and the veritable mountain of images "to be filed"... Big, huge sigh... And hoping to get going on sending one out daily for the new WWM feature, WWNews... You'll see> BTW.. I have finally made my list of "goals". Getting certified to dive is high on my list, not to mention steadily progressing on book. I will go with you one day...sooner than later I hope. <Yay! Press on my friend. Bob Fenner> Regards, from David A. Bell

Hello (from Malaysia dive service/master) Hello Bob How are you? How are the Redang slides? <Many very nice... am wading through them as my "treat" of the day, after this and that "business of life" "work"... on to identifying, scanning best, setting good verticals aside for sending to photo bank, editors for cover submissions...> I hope you get the shots you want. <On returning, never seems like it, sigh> I went out checking many new places. It has been slow since you leave. Diving will be picking up again next month. Meanwhile I am planning to go to Pulau Weh again. Now that it is easy for me to get there from Penang. I will send you some pictures on what is happening there. Cheers, Anuar <Ah, great. Will share them with friends in the diving interest and if okay with you on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. See you soon. Bob Fenner>

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