Last Friday I came back from a lunch with friends, which ran quite a bit longer than expected.
I got into Kamppi on my way home, and saw the tail of The Winyls performing on stage. Must admit that I’d never heard of them before, but the performance was excellent.
There was a massive crowd gathered around the stage, and no way I would be able to get some decent pictures of that. I only had the camera with the 50mm on, but then…
Waitasec… Hanging down from my shoulder was the 300mm I borrowed from my Buddy Don. Just waiting to be unpacked and slammed on.
I ran over to the sound booth, batted my eyelashes at the guard standing on the booth and he allowed me to get up and shoot a few frames off the sound booth. Nice!

Excellent stuff, great atmosphere! Head on over to their Facebook page and listen to some of their stuff.
https://www.facebook.com/thewinylsband

They Winyls

D800, ISO1600, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 300mm

They Winyls

D800, ISO1600, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 300mm

They Winyls

D800, ISO1600, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 300mm

Warning sign to not walk in front of a car

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

I have a good number of signs in my collection. From normal, to serious, to funny, informative, to… well… what would you call this?
The Chinese (this was shot in Hong Kong) are either morbidly sarcastic, ingenious, or then… this was just a very unfortunate fluke.

I’d say the sign means that in this area there’s a good chance you’ll be run over by a car, and IF you were to survive the hit and you’re down on the ground spitting blood in the last takes of breath you have, you’re kindly informed that the end is nigh without having to go through the trouble of reading it upside down.
And have a good day.

It’s beautiful in other worlds. But coming home and seeing this off your balcony makes up for a lot of things that you can’t see here.

Rainbow

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Rainbow

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Rainbow

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

The biker must be filthy rich… ;)

Rainbow

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

 

I guess I was lucky. We hit the tail of the third typhoon,  but got a few nice days still anyway.
These are the pictures of my last dive (for now). I’ve already planned my return.
Just can’t get enough of it!

Anemony

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Seaslug

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Nudibranch

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Golden cowry

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Ghost pipefish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

 

 

 

I promised you that one still.

Haven’t been able to go out much in the past days. We’re sitting out the tail of the third typhoon here. Luckily the worst hasn’t come here, but with rain -literally- the whole day, rough sea and very strong currents it’s not really diving weather.
My time here is running at an end… for now… But I’ll be back here soon. With camera. And better weather.

Pufferfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Cuttlefish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Moray eel

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

The moray eels you don’t usually see out in the open like this during the day. But at night they’ll give you a good photo op :)

The same with the mandarinfish. They are very cute (slightly strange as well), but really quick. And they don’t like light very much. There’s only a time window of about 30-40 minutes after sunset when they come out, after that it’s over. When you flash they hide for awhile and you have to wait for them to come out again. If you shine a big light on where they are, they won’t come out. So you have to shine a light with a very weak beak, or hold your hand over the beam. All of this makes it extremely hard to focus and take good pictures. The couple of lucky shots I got are below.

Mandarinfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Mandarinfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Mandarinfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

 

 

… during the day (Night dive coming up after this post).

I’ve seen plenty of colors during the past weeks. It’s amazing down there (I know, I start repeating myself). I’ve seen probably 2-3 different kinds of starfish around here in one or another variety, but the other day, when we were out for a skill set and did a short “tour” just off the shore, we ran into some crazy colorful ones that I hadn’t seen before. Only at about 5 meters deep, about 200 m from the beach.

I decided to come back for pictures.

Starfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm

Starfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm

Starfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

I shot only three, but there were six or seven of them in different colors. Unfortunately I failed to attached the flash connector properly to the hotshoe of the camera, so I had to shoot without flash. Luckily this was only at shallow depth, and there was enough light coming in to shoot without flash, but the colors were completely off.

Starfish before - after

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm
And the obvious color adjustments in Photoshop.

And then there’s the time where you just sit in the sand, camera at the ready, waiting for that right moment. It may come, or it may not. But with patience…

Starfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

People have destroyed already way too much, both on land and underwater, but it’s beautiful to see how people haven’t (yet, let’s hope it will never get that far) screwed up the underwater world and haven’t managed to scare the wits out of everything living there.
At first you’re just a big strange creature, but if you “sit down” (not literally, at least not everywhere or randomly!!) and stay calm, the life around you will start going about their business within minutes and you get to see the most beautiful things in their natural environment :)

On the way to the place where we saw the starfish we encountered a few other things as well.
Very common, the clownfish:

Clownfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm

Very cute, but actually they are very feisty. They will protect their home against anything that comes close. A couple of times it bumped against my mask just to shoo me out of the way.
And of course the lion fish, it comes in so many varieties, with wings, and feathers and stuff, and it’s so gracious, I could take pictures of it all day!

Lionfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/500 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Glass shrimps are also very cute, but very small. The one in this picture is about 3 mm “big”.

Glass shrimp

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm

More to come!

Another dive with camera.
This was actually a “coincidental” “fun” dive.
I could do a little background story, bare with me, because I will be spewing A LOT of frustration.

Before I left to the Philippines I had lunch/coffee with a Dive Intructor friend of mine, whom I asked for advise and tips on what to do and what to get. She gave me plenty of useful tips and advise, pretty much all of which I took to heart, save for 1 thing: do NOT buy anything that has MARES on it. She did stipulate that it was her personal opinion, and she also heard about people who had only good to say about them.
With that in mind I did buy several things with Mares on it.
1) a mask
2) a dive computer (Matrix)
3) a knife
4) a BCD
5) fins and boots

With good hopes and a good mood I took off to the Philippines to start my Dive Master course.

First few dives… The mask. Brand new. It bubbled worse than a Japanese Jacuzzi and upon going deeper than 6 or so meters it started leaking water in from the seams where the glass is attached to the plastic frame. My first experience with the solid quality of Mares.
I thought it may have just been bad luck, getting a Monday Morning Mask. It happens every now and again, and I’m fine with that.

The Dive Computer, a Mares Matrix, required some custom settings, and a piece of software called Dive Organizer to transfer and log the dives from Matrix to laptop. Came with a USB cable and all. I did the custom settings in both Dive Organizer and Matrix (and noticed when I went through the log book that the dive computer had THREE logged dives already in the process. Typically one dive would be for testing purposes, but *should* be deleted before the dive computer would go in the box for sales. I contacted the store where I bought it, who didn’t know how that was possible).
I had my first two dives logged, and I wanted to transfer them to my laptop. I fired up the laptop, the Dive Organizer, plugged in the USB and Matrix and tried several times to have the Dive Organizer find the computer, all of which failed.
I gave up.
I went for another two dives the next day. The second dive, just before the safety stop (short and blunt for you non-divers: this is a built-in routine with every dive to allow your body to get re-accustomed to the shallower depths and allow the gasses that (may) have accumulated in your body at deeper depths to escape) at 5 meters the Matrix died without any form of warning. I had to stay on 5 meters for 3 minutes, so all I could do was hope that my guestimate of 5 meters and my 1-mississippi 2-mississippi 3-mississippi was slow enough for the 3 minutes to pass.
I contacted the shop where I bought the Matrix, and Mares support straight. I was in contact with Mares Nordic, which was a very good experience and all looked very promising. The contact person at Mares Nordic, whom I had told exactly what the problem was with my Matrix, was going to be in touch with Mares Philippines and he was talking about them getting a new Matrix to the location where I was and then I could return the faulty one to the store I bought it from after I came back from my trip.
Then I received a mail from someone at -apparently- Mares Philippines. Few words more than “Hi, I need more details.” and the signature.
I asked the person kindly what information he had received from my contact at Mares Nordic and what additional information he needed from me. No reply. I asked with the contact person from Mares Nordic. No reply. Two days pass. Nothing. I send another mail to Mares Nordic asking what the status is on the issue of my Matrix. No reply. A few days pass.
Then I get a mail from another person at Mares Philippines. No Hi, no introduction, nothing. Only “Contact the General Manager [name here] of the Philippines.” No contact info, no email address, nothing. So I write a mail back asking about a phone number or an email address. I send it, and then I started thinking… WTF?? It’s not MY job to contact the General Manager to solve an issue. It’s not MY job to try to get in touch with someone in upperlevel management to try to get a solution for a faulty instrument or to have it replaced. I indicated a problem to the source where I was initially sent, and it’s THEIR job to make sure this is fixed. And I’m most certainly not going to call a General Manager in the Philippines or Australia (or wherever Mares Asia is located) with my Finnish phone and boost my phone bill to astronomical heights on top of a 500€ malfunctioning device! I got seriously annoyed.
I sent a mail to both the store where I bought the Matrix (who have been totally patient and understanding all the way, kudos for that!) with a CC to Mares Nordic explaining the situation and uttering my frustration with the way Mares is handling this. I get a prompt mail back from the store where I bought the Matrix, with apologies and the promise that we will in any case fix it when I get back from my trip. I of course do understand that THEY can’t do anything from Finland as long as I’m here. The shopkeeper told me he had also been in touch with Mares, but I guess not very successfully either. And not a single word from Mares.
A few days pass… Then I get a mail from Mares: “we haven’t heard from you in 48 hours. If we don’t hear from you in 72 hours, we will assume your issue has been resolved and we will close your ticket.”
G-sus FF-ing Crisp. I reply to the mail, more and more frustrated, saying bluntly that me waiting for a reply/solution from THEIR end doesn’t entitle them to close a ticket, just because THEY are so slow.
I get an automated reply: “I’m on holiday until the 3rd of July. Please contact me again after that.”
%#&/”(?)!&#)/=!#%!!!
I reply again to the first mail, even more frustrated and even more bluntly, saying that if they want to have things solved, they better not forward mails to people who are on holiday, or they should get their logistics better sorted out.
It’s been almost a week now, and I haven’t heard anything from them anymore. I guess that means they’ve assumed my issue has been resolved and they have closed the ticket. Dammit.
Anyway… The Matrix… I let the battery drain completely, and was able to recharge it. The dives seem to log with the correct information, but -I tried once or twice after that- when I hook it up to the computer or charger, all the custom information I set, like time, date, second time, etc. is erased and factory reset. According to the manual it should manage 2 weeks of standby time or 10 hours of diving. I manage max 6 hours of diving before I have to recharge. It’s a piece of junk. And I will not recommend ANYone to get one of these. Aside from all the problems I’ve had with this thing, I would not get a computer you’d have to recharge after 10 hours of diving. It may just happen that you’re on a liveaboard or somewhere remote where there’s no electricity and you’re stuck with an empty diving computer after 10 dives. That kinda sucks.

I also got a knife from Mares.
The other day we were on a dive in a sanctuary where fishing is prohibited. I brought my knife so I could legally vandalize stuff :D Cut up fishing cages and let the fish out. Destroying stuff with permission and saving the environment. That’s fun. A few days later we went to a second sanctuary and I wanted to do the same thing. I had strapped the knife in its sheath around my right lower leg, checked if it was clipped in tight, which it was and went for the dive. We didn’t encounter any cages on this dive, so I didn’t need the knife. I came back to the boat after an hour or so, I got back on the boat and found the sheath empty. My 60€ knife lost somewhere along the way, because the clip didn’t hold. I didn’t hook behind anything, didn’t do anything funny or stupid underway… It had *just* slipped out.

So… Now the reason for the coincidental fun dive…
We went back to search for the knife. And I took my camera. Made that a fun dive on the way.
We didn’t find the knife, but I got some really good pictures.

Porcupine pufferfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Banded pipefish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Transparent Salt and Pepper Shrimp

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/4.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Moray eel

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Frogfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Frogfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Seahorse

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Seahorse

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Oh… And then… Tomorrow (day 23)… I will get EVEN more frustrated, because the zippers of BOTH my weight pockets of the Mares BCD will break. Next thing I’m awaiting to break are the boots and fins.
But I’m done with Mares already. I will exchange everything I have from Mares into something else.
It’s a pile of junk and no one really should buy it.
Things would’ve been less frustrating if support had been better, but that just added hurt to insult.
I’m not quite sure how this company is still in business.

 

It’s not all underwater photography and treefrogs here.
There are also “normal” frogs here (and huge toads, for that matter, but of those I don’t have a picture, yet).
This one was very willing to model (and was probably semi-blind after I was done flashing in its face). Much appreciated!

Frog

D800, ISO100, 1/320 sec @ f/11, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

Frog

D800, ISO100, 1/320 sec @ f/11, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

Frog

D800, ISO100, 1/320 sec @ f/11, Tamron 90mm, on-camera flash

 

 

It’s the “unpredictable” time here in the Philippines. The weather is unpredictable, it may change from sun into storm in under half an hour.
Today the weather’s been restless pretty much the whole time. Sun when we got into the water. Rain and heavy wind when we came up an hour later. The trip back to shore was rough, and we were already thinking that the second dive may not go. But then it changed again and we went out for the second dive, only to come up an hour later in high waves which made getting back on the vessel quite challenging. The rest of the day the wind has picked up, and the sea’s been rough. High waves, ominous clouds over the horizon, we might be in for a treat during the night.

The clouds in the sky made for a very dramatic picture and the waves rolling in on the beach added to that. I decided to go out with the camera to shoot some pictures.

Dramatic clouds over the horizon

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

And then it did get rougher. Not completely out of the blue, but still quite sudden.

Dramatic clouds over the horizon

D800, ISO800, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 14-24mm

And then I had to run back to dry the camera. It’s supposed to be … water repellent… Although salt water isn’t the best thing to be bathed in as a camera. I dried and cleaned it as good as I could. For now it’s still working. Hopefully it continues to.

All of a sudden I had time for 3 subsequent dives to take my camera. It was a busy day shooting and editing!
And I’m trying to shoot a variety of things, but some things you don’t always see, and other things are just too beautiful to let pass.
The lion fish are absolutely gorgeous and very photogenic. I guess I’ll keep on shooting those.

And then there are the less common ones. Frog fish… Got a moray eel, an extremely cute juvenile harlequin sweetlips, a few different pufferfish, and a few beautiful sea urchins.
The sea urchins really were something different. The colors are stunning (and unedited!). It was almost like being in a club with a big (neon) light show. The colors are radiating, pulsing almost!
You’re missing out on a beautiful world if you only live above water.
I guess the powers that be put all the colors in the ocean, out of the reach of human destructive hands as much as possible…

Catfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Pufferfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Pufferfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Juvenile harlequin sweetlips

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Coral

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Lionfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Lionfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Lionfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Moray eel

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/32, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Frogfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Sea urchin

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Sea urchin

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Sea urchin

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), 1/1000 sec @ f/3.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe