July 25, 2011 - Summer Diving Heats Up!
To all those who are new to my blog to get the gist of it please read "Welcome Aboard" from the May 1, 2011 posting and peruse a few of my other Dive Blog Reports. Visit www.evolutionunderwater.com to see video shorts from the 2011 season at Olympus Dive Center and click here for more info about myself.
After coming down from a high of having one of my personal top ten North Carolina dives on Monday July 18 (See last weeks Dive Blog Report "The Year of the Shark"), we headed back offshore with a new group of divers from various locations with the award for the furthest travelled going to Lazlo and Dorothya from Hungary. This couple however did not get dive together. The first day, Lazlo joined us and in conversation it was revealed that he was from Hungary. The second day, Dorothya dived with us and I asked "where are you from" where she answered, "Hungary", once again. I quickly said, "wow, we just had someone on board yesterday from Hungary, what a coincidence", where she then educated me that it was her husband that I met. She explained that they have children at home and were taking turns diving while the other watched the children. I was impressed by their commitment and ingenuity that allowed them to continue to dive even with little ones at home and also flattered that they would travel from so far and take the time to discover the great diving the Outer Banks has to offer. I hope we see the two of you again with many of your friends. PS: I know plenty of baby sitters I could put you in touch with.
On this day my first mate, John Thompson returned from his dive with his camera housing in hand and indicated that there was a large and well formed school of Atlantic Spade Fish swimming in mid water that had caught his cameras eye. Some would say "when you've seen one Spade Fish you've seen them all". Not quite, I say. When you see hundreds of Spade Fish huddled together in formation, sometimes chaotic and sometimes balletic it is rousing or even poetry in motion. Confused and bewildered Spades are even comical in a Keystone Cops kind of way. Regardless, they can be very entertaining depending on how you perceive them. I stowed the visual that John gave me in the back of my head while we finished collecting all the divers. With everyone back on board, I loaded my camera housing with my Nikon D300 and 12-24mm lens and jumped over the side with it and headed down to the Schurz. Sure enough the first thing that caught my attention was the school of Spade Fish. Without even making it to the bottom I went to work on this school of fish shooting with vengeance. I snapped shots of these fish by the dozen. Some with strobes, some without, some from the side and some from the bottom. In the end I think I had about 125 shots in total at times firing 3 frames per second.
Without further delay we would finish the second dive on the Spar. The Spar delivered another great dive for everyone with a handful of Sand Tiger Sharks adding company to the divers. The calm seas, clear skies, great viz and the fish laying on ice in the cooler made for a near perfect day. I myself was a happy camper that I got to take a few pics and get my hair wet (or what's left of it).
On Wednesday, the weather continued to hold out very nicely so we headed straight for the W.E. Hutton; aka Papoose to revisit the scene of July 18th's dive with the Caribbean Reef Sharks (check out the video HERE). Sure enough most of the divers on this dive saw at least one if not numerous Reef Sharks on the Papoose not to mention a few Sand Tiger Sharks to boot. Judging by the buzz on the dive deck after the dive I would conclude that it was a successful dive for most everyone. Dive number two on the wreck of the Aeolus would also prove to be a great dive with yet another detour to a rock ledge for some spearfishing where more fish were landed. The week just keeps getting better! Sadly (insert frown face here), I would not go diving today since I felt the effects of a nasty cold coming on and did not want to make it worse by stressing my body out by diving. I learned my lesson years ago when I was younger and dumber (oh those wonderful days) when I used to guide dives when I could not stop hacking in to my regulator while toting a 100+ degree fever. The colds would last three times as long and were probably twice as bad because I didn't slow down. Today, I would only be able to hear the cool dive stories from the passengers (insert another frown face here).
Conditions continued to please divers, the seas were still fairly calm and there may have been a rainbow with synchronized jumping dolphins beneath it. The only problem was I was sicker than the day before (yet another frown face here). If I had known I was going to feel this crummy I would have sure as hell went diving on the Papoose. As soon as the boat got back, I packed my bags, hugged Anne (with face turned away) and sped home were I consumed a gallon of herbal tea, a few thousand milligrams of vitamin C and crashed out on the couch for the next 48 hours (are you feeling any pity yet?). Annette put up with my Grizzly Bear attitude while I went in to recovery and kept my eye on the NOAA web site.
Ever since Thursday, the weather has held us back from diving while my health has slowly improved. As of Tuesday night the winds continue to blow and the hope that Mother Nature will grant us a reprieve from her repressive weather and allow us to head back out stays fresh in everyones mind.
I just wanted to thank all of the readers out there who have been enjoying this Dive Blog Report. I have a good time putting these together and am pleased at the positive feedback I have been getting. Keep in mind I accept and appreciate all comments if you care to leave any. I'll catch you all next week or on Facebook.
Mike's Underwater Photography Tip of the Week
This weeks blog I'm going to start something different with the "Photo Tip of the Week" for those inspiring U/W photog's. I hope that any information I give can be of help in achieving great photos.
One of the first things I teach my students, who sign up for a photo course, is to become a good listener. Wether you come across a beginner or an expert photographer in the field there is always something you can learn from that person. In other words pay attention to what anyone has to say about photography. A photographer whose images you feel are below your par may be able to show you something about Photoshop or similar post photo processes. Those who are savvy in the technological advances of the latest greatest cameras and lenses can impart some great wisdom upon you in that area. One man in particular taught me a lot about workflow and file management which has nothing to do with the quality of the photo but is extremely important all the same. Try not to dismiss someone based on there lack of notoriety as well. Just because they are not famous or published does not mean they do not have great knowledge to pass on. Hear everyone's opinion on how to get great shots and weed out what doesn't work for you later.
When I first started shooting photography on board the Truk Aggressor II in Micronesia I had very little experience. Being isolated on this boat with little to no internet time or even access to a phone, I soaked up whatever knowledge I could from the guests on board my boat who passed through on a weekly basis. This way I had a constant stream of data coming at me. Some of it very valuable and some of it not so much but most of it useful in adding to my formula for taking great images.
Next week I will discuss the use of external strobe units for lighting your subjects. Until then...
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