Photographed at approximately 15 meters deep.
Photographed at approximately 15 meters deep.
So I’m back here in the Philippines, as you may have noticed from my previous posts.
I’m not here only for photography, and writing articles. I’m not here only for diving, or holidays. Of course I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m shooting great pictures, but it’s not *just* for me.
I’m also here to prepare a little piece of paradise for all of you.
See… I’ve been photographing to gather material to show you the beauty of where you could go next year, as a holiday, as a (re)treat, where we offer you yoga and diving as a relaxing combination to get your mind off your every day life.
How does this look?
Doesn’t that look inviting?
Having been there, having done that, I can say it IS very inviting!
I’ve got a lot more pictures, also from underwater wildlife and landscapes. Keep an eye out for those in the coming posts.
And if I’ve managed to arouse some interest, head on over here:
Check it out, like if you like, sign up for the newsletter if you want to stay informed. There are visual updates on the Facebook Group frequently as well.
Usually if it doesn’t belong there, it’s crap.
But sometimes there’s an exception to the rule.
I didn’t check if there was something in it (you’re not supposed to touch anything ).
But if you recognize it, and you believe it’s yours, write me a line (with distinct details, that are not in the picture, so I know it’s really yours ), and I’ll try to find it again when I go down next time
Did I mention this before?
Last night I was up late. I looked outside, and I stared into this absolutely breath-taking view. It was close to midnight. Overcast to some extend, very foggy at the ground. But there was an almost full moon lighting up the fog and cloudy part of the sky. That in combination with the light pollution coming off the city and some of the street lights along the path…
I stood there (on my balcony ) for quite awhile, just looking at it.
The picture below is a panorama of 5 pictures stitched together in Photoshop.
I have the privilege of living in a place where I can see all kinds of cool stuff happening from my balcony.
A couple of weeks there was the weekend festival, with Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Darude, and a lot of other famous artists. I was lying in the hammock on the balcony enjoying the light shows and the music at no charge.
Another thing that happens all the time if the weather’s right, is parachute jumps. Either solo or tandem, the guys always land in the grass right next to the building. Paragliding they do off the same field, and there are two guys that always come with this kind of cart with a parachute attached to it and take off and land from the same field.
In winter they’re board surfing either in the snow on the field or on the ice of the sea a bit further.
Hot air balloons don’t take off from exactly the field out front, but from a bit further east. I can see them when they are fully filled with air and about to take off.
And of course then they come over here.
I caught this one a bit too late. I just came home from a shooting and it had passed already. But I manage to capture it still quite nicely (albeit with a 300mm + 2x + 1.4x extender).
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.
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 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.
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.
… of the adventure.
Day one was mostly spent sleeping and recovering from the 30+-hour traveling.
Day two was also still that. I was surprisingly tired. I don’t usually take naps during the day, but I simply had to. Lot of impressions, lots to read, lot of information t process and then two dives.
Two dives, which went totally fine, but -of course- filled with excersize and no camera. Gritting teeth… Several times…
But I will get my pictures!
For now you’ll just have to do with the last remainder of the sunset. I missed it, because I was out cold for two hours.
It’s still pretty, I think. Last night I watched it completely, and it was stunning, but I was too tired to pull out the camera and the tripod. But I’ll be here for about 4 weeks, so I’m sure you’ll see a few sunsets (and/or sunrises) come by.
You know by now it’s “my” thing. Cross-processing (and HDR).
I don’t need to explain much anymore, I guess. I’ve said so much about it.
I’ll give you this one to have a look at, a few hours before I take off for a new adventure. More pictures to follow, surely, as the adventure unfolds
Oh, and it may just happen so that in the fall I will be doing a (few) workshop(s) in Helsinki on HDR and cross-processing. More on that when there’s more concrete information.
Left -obviously- the raw file. Right the processed one. One hue/saturation layer set to Overlay, one curves layer set to Overlay, one hue/saturation layer set to normal.
It’s a season everyone is looking forward to. Especially when you live in a country like Finland, where you’re digging your Life through 5-6 months of snow every year. And that’s Southern Finland (let’s not start about going up north).
And yeah… Finally, after many, many months it really does look like spring’s on its way (save for the snow that’s coming down as I write this).
Spring always comes with surprises. The worst part of the snow melting is all the dog poop that is surfacing and accompanying it the foul smell of it. I could go all into detail and describe to you the gooey… but no, I won’t.
A little colorful flower, which has had the power to withstand the weight of the snow that’s been piled up for way too long, and is now breaking the surface of the snow like the hand of a zombie trying to get out of the soil.
Cars that have disappeared under piles of snow with the winter ongoing, and the snow plows shoving all the snow off the street to the side.
And yeah… It can thus happen, that that big pile of snow looks exactly like… well… a big pile of snow. And a snow plow doesn’t really feel the difference when it piles up more snow, and maybe pushes it a bit further off the street and a bit further toward the pavement.
And yeah… If you happen to be the owner of such a car, and you don’t use your car during winter, then it could just happen that your car actually DOES disappear under said pile of snow.
And yeah… If the snow then melts, and your car happened to have been disguised as a pile of snow, you might just be in for a nasty surprise when the snow melts and your car peeks it’s battered head out of the snow…