June 12, 2012 - Bottom Time

Photo of the Week
Barracuda residing on the wreck of the USCGC Spar. (New)

My home away from home, the Midnight
wheelhouse.  Photo by Annette Papa.
     This past week proved to be a good one for diving at Olympus Dive Center on board the Midnight Express. I ran charters Thursday June 7 thru Sunday June 10 with a reprieve for a few days this week. The conditions offshore have been great and bordering on super with flat calm seas over the weekend with visibility edging up to 60 feet at times; depending on where we were diving. A stiff north wind earlier in the week did manage to drop the water temps down a few degrees from 78-74 degrees but it is warming up again quickly.

     Although I did not get to dive for a few days due to obligations on board the boat, I did get in on Thursday and Sunday and finally got to see the wreck of the USCGC Spar in her new resting place since Hurricane Irene jostled her around last August. The Spar is still very much the awesome wreck dive she has always been, although now with a 45 degree list to her port side. Sand tiger sharks, although seen with regularity, have been few in numbers on the Spar. The W.E. Hutton aka Papoose on the other hand has had far more shark encounters so far this year not to mention a plethora of all the usual suspects. That wreck has always and continues to impress divers. As far as I can ascertain, most divers visiting with us have been enjoying themselves immensely including a more international crowd that I have beens seeing on board. This week the Midnight was host to some divers from England, Portugal, Mexico and Germany. Word has been getting out abroad at what we have to offer for diving and this could not please us more.

Editor & Chief of Wreck Diving Magazine,
Joe Porter hemmed in by Olympus Dive Center's
Robert Purifoy and Nema Triplett.
     Also, Joe Porter, the Editor & Chief of the renown Wreck Diving Magazine came up to Olympus for a quick getaway dive on Saturday before returning to his busy schedule at home. Word has it he had some great dives. It was nice to see him out enjoying the perfect weather conditions and we look forward to his return with his lovely wife Heidi in the near future.

     On the photo side of things, the addition of the Nikon D800 to my arsenal has been an exciting one thus far. Due to a very busy schedule I did not have the chance to do as much shooting with it yet. The housing for this camera will not be ready for a few more weeks so I am relegated to snapping some top side shots in the meanwhile. So far what I have seen has blown me away by the quality of the images this camera takes. The dynamic range of the images is impressive compared to my D200 and D300 cameras. No longer do I lose as much detail in the shadows when I expose to the highlights and vice versa. The sharpness and resolution is hard to top at 7360p x 4912p; a whopping 36 Mega Pixels! 
A test shot of the Midnight Express
with the full frame Nikon D800
and a 16mm Fisheye lens.

That is a lot of MP's for the average photographer, but you can never have too many I say, especially with the price tag this camera comes with. The body of the Nikon D800 runs $3,000 but when you consider that only 5-8 years ago a camera with this large a sensor ran as high as $25,000 or more. There is a lot of performance in the D800 for the price. Due to these large files this camera is not recommended for action/sports photography since the frames per second is hampered to a mere 4 per second at full frame. That speed suits my needs for underwater applications. So far I am pleased as punch with this unit, but I have a lot more experimentation to go. I will keep you all posted.

     Lastly, I will have my final Blog Report on my Top Ten Dives within a day or two. Stay tuned.

Happy diving!

-Mike Gerken

Photo Gallery
Some territorial barracudas on the Spar
made for great subject matter.
Taken with Nikon D300; 16mm fisheye lens.
Taken with Nikon D300; 16mm fisheye lens.
'Midnight' mate, Brian Moore making a
grand entry off the pulpit.
Taken with Nikon D800; 12-24DX lens.

Crew hanging out on the bow on a
beautiful flat calm day.
Taken with Nikon D800; 12-24DX lens.
Annette Papa and Anna Yeager of Olympus,
tag teamed a bunch of lionfish this weekend.
Those fish didn't stand a chance.
Taken with Nikon D800; 12-24DX lens.

Flat calm day + great vis makes for some happy divers.
Taken with Nikon D800; 12-24DX lens.

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