Sunday, 28 October 2007

Cottage wide angle

Strong northerlies, 30c, nothin else to do. Let's go to Cottage by the sea Reef.

Swell was up a bit and vis was bad at 3m, and slack was late so we had a bit of current to battle at first.

Didn't expect any decent shots but by putting the strobes out as far as they could go and keeping them well behind the port, backscatter wasn't too bad a problem. Photos here.

Also there is much less sand in the water under the ledges.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

FIX LED mini focusing light.

Ordered one of these from Yuzo last week and it arrived yesterday. Cant believe how good the service is from this business.

Anyway I made up a bracket to fit the Ikelite arm extention and took it for a dive at St Leonards. Vis was, you guessed it, bad again at 2-3m. Photos here.

This little light, which takes 4 AAAs not AAs like it says in the blurb, is bright enough for night macro and sped up the autofocus under the darker sections of the pier. The D80 handles low light levels very well but the light just made it better. The light also momentarily switches off when the flash fires so does not affect exposure.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Wide angle settings 15mm Fisheye - Cottage Reef

Strong N wind and early high slack meant Cottage was the site for today's dive. Cottage must be dived when the tide is ebbing. The flood tide creates dangerously strong current here.

The water was flat enough but vis was bad due to continuing strong winds which stir up the bay. However it was a beautiful warm sunny day so there was no stopping Trevor and I.

With wide angle you can open up the aperture to about f/8 - f/16 and still have heaps of depth of field. Camera shake is less of a problem so slower shutter speeds like 1/30th - 1/90th can be used.

All of this means lighter sunlit backgrounds and water can be captured. You have more scope to balance the background exposure with the flash lit subject in the foreground.

Ideally you need good vis for wide angle so today was a struggle.
Strobes need to be placed further out from the lens to avoid backscatter. Not many keepers from this dive.

Issue of the day was .... loading the camera into the housing with the shutter release lever rotated 180 deg. This meant the shutter could not be operated. Had to pull the camera out and rotate the lever into the correct position. Lucky I tested it before leaving home.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Macro settings - St Leonards

St Leonards Pier. Strong off shore (W-NW) meant flat water and good vis for a change. New buddy John Mc checked the vis earlier and gave the thumbs up.

It was a real nudi finding day with 6 different species and one of them new to me, some sort of Polycera maybe. Have a look here.

The 60mm lens aperture can stop down to f/32, way smaller than the Coolpix f/8. This means much more flash power is needed. To increase flash power I have removed the diffusers from the Inons and turned them up to -2 or -3. With the Coolpix I was struggling with too much power at the minimum -5 power setting even with diffusers.

My standard macro settings are 1/125 sec, f/22, ISO 200, WB Auto.
To lighten the background water I might use 1/60th and for really dark subjects I'll increasing the strobe power.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

18-55mm kit lens with +2 dioptre at The Springs

St Leonards was flat but had zero vis so I toddled across the peninsula to The Springs, Pt Lonsdale. From shore the water looked calm and clear-ish but this is a shallow exposed site. The surge and stirred up sand made photography tricky. Vis was no more than 5m.

This is a great site for marine algae, or seaweed, having tons of different species. I am currently building up a collection of marine algae images for a proposed Port Phillip ID guide so seaweed it was for today. I also wanted to try the kit lens with +2 dioptre for middle range close ups.

The +2 brought focus plenty close enough, maybe 10cm from the dome. At f/8 there was corner softness in some shots but certainly not excessive. These are the keepers.

I had one issue to begin with. I couldn't turn the camera on. After a few panicked seconds I realized the button that activates the self timer was depressed. Once I lifted it and worked out how to cancel the timer all was well.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

60mm macro at Popes Eye

Sunday 7th saw us heading out to Popes Eye in a cold choppy SW wind.

Half way out we paused to watch a seal pup flinging something tasty around tearing off big chunks. Looked like a big cuttle or snapper.
There was another big male seal snoozing on the rocks at the entrance to The Eye.

Vis was about 5m and the current added lots of suspended sand to the water. Still hanging out for a nice clear calm day.
The macro once gain performed nicely with a few interesting nudis around. Here are the results.

Tried a few fish shots which is now possible with the excellent and quick auto focus.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

60mm macro at St Leonards

Vis still crappy at 2m with some wind chop. Northern pacific seastars are persisting but when you're desperate anywhere will do. Some photos here

Still awkward looking through the viewfinder and realized today that it was my reg clashing with the sync cord socket preventing getting close enough but will look for a lower profile mask also.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Sigma 15mm and 6" dome at St Leonards

Vis was still poor at 3m and NE wind chop was building. Not ideal conditions for first try of the fisheye but results were very encouraging.

This lens is perfect for close focus wide angle. Images here.

Could focus as close as I could get composing carefully through the viewfinder or point the camera in a general direction at arms length and shoot away.

Couldn't really assess corner sharpness but I suspect it's not something I'll be taking much notice of anyway. It certainly wasn't obviously bad on this first test.