Saturday, 29 December 2007

Ripview Classic Swim 2007

This has nothing to do with the D80 but it is ocean related.

I competed in my first ocean swim today. 1.4km (current assisted) from The Springs to Pt Lonsdale with about 1200 swimmers.
My goals were first to make the distance and second not to come last. Even though I wore the wrong brand of wetsuit and goggles I achieved both and even picked up the pace after the halfway buoy and passed a few of my fellow 44 - 49 age Black Cap Masters.

I staggered back onto the beach in 23min with the leaders doing it in just over 14 min. Even got to ID a few fish along the way.

Next year I move into the Grand Masters 50 - 55 group.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Coolpix 5000 in the surf

My nephew Caleb's class teacher wanted some shots of their surf class and I was volunteered. I thought that surf was not the place for my precious D80 with it's push and clip port system, so the cheaper and more robustly housed Coolpix was dusted off and charged up.

I fitted the wide adapter and screwed on the dome port, set the focus manually to 2m, the exposure to Aperture priority f/8 for max depth of field and the ISO to 200 for shorter shutter speeds and the shutter release to high speed continuous. I could take 3 or 4 shots in quick sequences as the kids stood up on waves.

The day was very grey and dull with poor surf but the results were great. I smeared saliva on the dome port to reduced water drops but that produced some patchy blurring. May have been better to dip the camera under between shots.

This is an example of downgrading to get the results.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Coogee Wreck and Castle Rock

I was invited to dive on Freediver, Alan Beckhurst and Mary Malloy's excellent dive boat.
Surface conditions were not inviting at all with up to 20kn SW and rain on the forcast. There was a nasty short steep swell with wind chop making the heads quite exciting.
I used the 18 -55mm kit lens because I didn't know where we were diving. Should have used the 15mm FE in the wonderful blue 15 to 20m vis.
Many of my wide shots were underexposed using 1/60th and f/8 at ISO200 but salvagable. Could have increased the ISO and aperture maybe.

Camera issue of the day: At 32m I found one of the buttons was stuck down preventing any speed or aperture changes. I was probably a little narced so it took a while before I found the offender and freed it up. That was the main reason for underexposed images.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Technical issues on the Tassie trip

Had no problems with the D80 and my lens choices were perfect. Just the 60mm macro and 15mm fisheye.
But how to store and backup 10 days worth of images. I considered buying more SD cards, an image storage device or an iPod/camera connector but found that basic laptops are so cheap these days that there was the obvious solution.
I bought an HP Compaq C710 for $750 and with the current $150 HP cashback that made it $600. It only has 512 RAM but that was fine for saving images and running Photoshop Elements 2.0. The laptop became hot property after each dive as everyone gathered round to view images.

I found Vista to be a very nice, almost Mac like OS. This PC wont be connected to the net. On return I slotted in 2GB RAM for $130 and it runs better than my iMac 20" G5 now.

Now here's a list of gear problems on the trip:
Virg's Aladin Sport wrist computer went "ERR" - meaning Trevor had to borrow one from the dive shop.
Leaking drysuit chest valve - got wet thermal tshirt and jocks every dive. Drysuit needs valve overhaul.
Leaking Inon Z220 strobe socket - now realize this has been going on for a while so the strobe is getting the socket replaced at Sea Optics for $88 plus labour
Port o-ring sucked into the housing - after opening the rear door on the boat to switch back to autofocus. Glad I saw this as it would have meant a severe flood. So didn't take the camera in for this dive at Waterfall Bay split and enjoyed it so much I called this my best dive ever.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Eaglehawk Neck - Tasman Peninsula

After Bicheno we traveled down the east coast to Eaglehawk Neck dive centre to link up with the taxonomists.

The diving here was on spectacular walls beneath towering cliffs and in enormous caves and splits. Big swells and surge are the norm and sites had to be carefully selected by Mick the skipper.

We found numerous new nudis, hydroids and pycnos and had a wonderful 6 days.

The accomodation was a bit cramped and basic with a big group but the spectacular diving made up for it. The dive lodge needs more cupboards and benches and that Tongtel TV needs to be dumped. Oh, and the electricals need an upgrade to stop the regular circuit breaks whenever the fridge started up.

Even though we were only 1hr from Hobart there was no Optus or 3 mobile coverage but Telstra mobile still worked.

Photos here.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Bicheno Tasmania

Well I'm finally getting organized and have some images to show.
Just from Bicheno at this stage, Eaglehawk Neck to come.

Bicheno is a small fishing village on Tasmania's mid east coast with spectacular rocky coastline and kelp covered boulders underwater.

Water temp was around 14c and the weather was a perfect 20c most days with cool nights. We were woken nightly by noisy male fairy penguins returning to the nests, some of which were in our front garden.

Saw mother and calf humpback whales swimming only a few hundred meters off the beach.

Sometimes we were diving in a thick soup of salps and comb jellies.

Photos here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Back from Tasmania trip

Just returned on the ferry this morning from 10 days diving in Tasmania.

We split the trip into 4 days at Bicheno, just myself, Trevor Mc and Richard M,

then another 6 days on the Tasman Peninsula at Eaglehawk Neck Dive linking up with Jan Watson (hydroid taxonomist), Bob Burn (nudibranch taxonomist) and Dave Staples (pycnogonid taxonomist).

Right now I'm tired to the core, have no clean clothes and have to go to work in about an hour so that's it until I can sort out some images.