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Diving Curacao

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I was asked by Midge at Scuba blue if i wanted to join them on a group trip to Curacao in April. After getting the details i jumped at the chance as the price was very good and i knew most of the people that were going! After several hours on the plane we arrived to a rough looking sea.. but we were assured we were not diving on this side of the island. I was surprised at just how different one side of the island was from the other. The sea was clear and the beaches were tropical on the other side! After picking up the hire trucks we headed to Blue bay dive resort where we were staying and got our kit ready!. Me and Andy (my buddy for the week & roomy) went down to the beach to check out the dive centre! it was a great dive centre and all the staff were very helpful and friendly! always giving us advice when we needed it!IMG_2060The Dive Centre

The next morning Me and Andy got up early.. he was as keen as me to get in as much as possible to make the most of where we were! we kitted up and jumped straight in off the beach and dropped to 40 meters. The reef was beautiful and full of life. The amount of life and critters here made it a photographers dream. Just off the shore you had the option for a deep dive or a shallow dive! we explored most of the reef during the week and it never got boring! There was always something different to see! my aim was to find nudibranch over the week but was told i would be very lucky as not many are seen here. That didn’t stop me looking and on the 3rd day i came across a pair which were in the process (the chase) of mating ! and 2 days later i found another pair in the same process! I was happy to have found a few! from this point everything else for the week was a bonus! we also found a sea horse and a turtle which always makes a great dive better!  There were lots of small critters to photograph as well as big stuff so for any kind of photographer wether that’s wide or macro theres always something there to photograph! My feelings while diving in the bay was excitement and happiness every time i got in the water.. this is down to having a great buddy who made it easy diving, and to have the conditions we did made it the perfect place for the week!P4090036 copyAbove is a purple crowned sea goddess (Mexichromis Kempfi)

Over the course of the week we travelled to several dive sites to explore a bit more of the island. There were some great dive sites but nothing seemed to match the Blue bay dive resort reef!  the life was a bit sparse elsewhere but the beaches and beach bars were tropically beautiful so we made the most of being there and relaxed and had a beer and tried the food.P4080264Over the week we went to a lot of places and got to dive as a big group, and what a great group of people to be on a Caribbean island with! great laughs and great memories made! P4080190Andy

For the last none diving day me Andy and Carla went exploring the island in the truck.. there’s a few sites that we wanted to see including the national park which i would recommend doing if you get chance. Curacao is a great destination for diving and beaching! It was a well run and well organised trip and Scuba blue went out of their way to make everybody happy! I will be jumping on more of their trips in the future! when you are with a great bunch of people it makes all the difference on wether the holiday is ok or fantastic! P4080111CarlaP4110064Midge & Vics

Thanks Scuba Blue

Keep an eye out for the Curacao video coming soon!

Olympus TG4

Olympus TG 4 

 

I do get asked many times what camera set up i use and when i tell people I’m using the Olympus TG4 Camera with the Olympus PT-056 Housing and a video light i do get some strange looks! The light i use is a light and motion Gobe 850 video light! 

It is a compact camera and is cheap to buy, i bought mine new with the housing for £500 and bought the video light for £170! This i use for videos and photography! So a cheap set up!

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The reason i bought this camera was for its microscope mode which is very good with no need for any macro lenses. In actual fact the Macro lens you can buy for it is not as good as using it with out the lens! I also travel a bit and to have a small set up is key for me! It doesn’t weigh much so i usually take it all in my hand luggage. The picture below is the same Goniodoris Nodosa as the one pictured above.

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The Camera itself is water proof to 15 meters without the housing, this was quite handy on my last trip as i had a leak through one of the buttons on the housing! This was easy fixed but the fact it was water proof saved the camera!

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Apart from the macro mode which is very good it has some good features, manual White Balance is easy to set which is handy and the programable modes come in handy to save the settings you have been using! It is an easy camera to use manually but if you did not feel comfortable with the settings to start with the auto mode works well too!  It adjusts the white balance as you descend! i know most cameras do that but the Auto mode is quite accurate and gives a good result unlike some cameras. 

 Every one has different preferences, some prefer strobes on arms and some don’t . I use this set up with the video light on my finger on the left hand for ease of use! I only use it this way for this camera as it helps me get the camera lens into cracks and crevices closer to the subject where strobes won’t work! That way i can then position the light where it needs to be to give an accurate look on the subject. Another reason i use a video light is so i can introduce it gently, slowly to a subject without flashing and spooking so it then swims off! I find the amount of light is important to get the look that i want so the video light is easy to move away or closer..rather than playing with settings on strobes. 

I once spent nearly an hour pulling the light away and slowly bringing it back towards an anemone shrimp..it took that time for it to get used to the light and then once it felt safe it was happy to come out for a few close up shots! it even left the safety of its anemone and ventured out over a rock to get to the light lens!

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For a cheap compact camera it does get some good results! But if you are looking for  better professional results then a better camera is needed! Theres a massive difference in quality between a cheap compact camera and a good proffesional set up!

The TG4 has been replaced by the TG5! Theres not a great deal of difference between them, just a few small changes. Upgraded sensor with reduced MP gives the TG5 more room to help reduce noice in low light. I like the TG4 having 16MP as it helps if i need to zoom in on a photo for cropping but keeping a bit more detail.

If you have enjoyed reading this give it a like or a share to someone that might find this information helpful. 

Bucket list Diving..Truk Lagoon

Truk Lagoon

Chuuk lagoon known as Truk lagoon is on a lot of peoples bucket list and rightfully so. The lagoon is home to a vast number of wrecks that were sunk in 1914  from operation hailstone. Hailstone was an operation that lasted 2 days and saw the destruction of the Japanese fleet by the US  in retaliation from the attacks on Pearl harbour. 

Chuuk Lagoon is 1 of a small group of islands which form the federate states of Micronesia.  Located in the pacific the distance from the UK makes it a task to get there! 

My trip there was broken up into 2 days. From Gatwick to Istanbul, Istanbul to Japan where i stayed over night then from Japan to Guam and then onto Chuuk. 

I travelled as light as i could and with different baggage allowances throughout the journey it worked out quite well with a quick swap over of a couple of items in Japan. I flew Turkish airlines from UK to Japan with a 40 kilo allowance. From Japan to Chuuk i flew united airlines with  a 23 kilo allowance but the hand luggage was only restricted to size not weight.  So the Olympus TG4 was perfect  to take with me! I also took a couple of GoPros for footage and wide shots! Along with a small but powerful video light i had what i needed. This is the setup i now use for my photography! 

I arrived at midnight and got shown to my room where i quickly found my bed.  I woke in the morning to a view that took by breath away..it was paradise..clear turquoise sea, blue sky, green grass and palm trees. I was excited about the day ahead. I made my way to the restaurant for breakfast walking through the lush green trees. There were lots to choose from on the menu which was nice. I also  noticed all the information needed for new arrivals on the reverse of the menu so i had everything i needed. 19222918_10156418636743902_2947615292980872068_o_0

After breakfast i got my dive kit sorted and headed over to the dive centre. The set up was really good with a guide and skipper allocated too a small group of divers. For most of the week i was on the boat with 3 other divers  Dean ,Sue  and Paul. 

The boat journey to the dive sites are usually no longer than 25 minutes so its not long before you are descending down the bouy line. The first wreck was the Fujikawa maru which is a favourite to start with. The viz was pretty good and it wasn’t long before the dark shape below resembled a Bow of a wreck. The excitement from the start of the holiday only got more intense as we explored the magnificent wrecks one by one. Trying to take in all the different artefacts that remain on each wreck is a challenge so having a couple of cameras helped a lot with that!  Between the 2 dives in the morning we made our way to Etton island for a surface interval  where the locals climbed the trees and cut down coconuts for us all to drink from! it was a lovely way to spend the interval. 19400404_10156418628603902_7964065455768385854_o_0

Etton island was a landing strip which resembled the shape of an aircraft carrier which confused the Americans as they kept bombing the island and reporting back stating it still had not sunk! There are a number of air craft scattered around the end of the island. The betty bomber, the Emily sea plane , a Zero fighter and some wings of fighters.  The betty bomber and Emily sea plane were great dives with quite a bit of life on them. The Zero fighter is in 6 meters of water so was a good surface interval snorkel. 

Over the 8 days diving i managed to do 18 different wrecks, some were done twice as a new group came through. A wreck playground for the metal fans but also plenty of life around the wrecks! Sharks, hundreds of fish shoals and a fair bit of macro! A great combination for the photographer. On the last day after diving the guide took us to another island for a farewell BBQ! It was an amazing end to a fantastic 8 days diving! On the tiniest island miles from anywhere else sipping beer, eating good food sat in a hammock watching the clouds go by! Perfect! 19264768_10156418631293902_5612875572871822532_o_019390913_10156418629428902_1569425717178695989_o_0

You can watch the video of the trip here

Babbacombe Macro

On Saturday 30th September Stephanie Pettit from ocean Odyssey travelled from Poole to spend the day at Babbacombe with me.  We concentrated on the Olympus Tough TG4 and the microscope mode function. We did 3 dives and made our way around the bay heading West from Mushroom and Crack rock. We were lucky enough to have some close encounters with cuttlefish, a cat shark , Lobsters and lots of macro life.  The weather gave us a bit of drizzle but not too bad. The viz dropped off slightly from 4 meters to 1 in some places but was 3 on average. Here are some of the photos taken from the day.

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