August 1, 2012 - Double Headers

Photo of the Week
Carcharias taurus or the "Sand Tiger Shark".
Taken on the wreck of the Caribsea, North Carolina. (New)

(Scroll down for the "Photo Tip of the Week".)

      One of the unwritten laws in North Carolina diving is, "when you find a dive that's great, do it again".  In other words, leaving a wreck site and chasing after better dive conditions for the second dive after you just had an outstanding dive on the first is not playing it smart. These last three days of diving on board the Midnight Express had dive groups who were following this North Carolina law to the tee. 

     On Sunday, July 29 we dived the wreck of the USS Schurz and found at least 40 feet of visibility on the bottom with at double that 15 feet off the bottom tot he surface. The hazy layer of water on the bottom was not soupy enough to declare the dive a poor one so we stuck around for a double on this fascinating WWI wreck. In fact, the divers from Scuba Diving Magazines, "Diver to Diver" (D2D), who chartered the 'Midnight' over the weekend, thought the dive was stunning and I had to concur with them after I got back from my photo shoot on the wreck. 
The D2Der's at Olympus Dive Center.
Photo courtesy of Jim Stradling. 
     The Schurz was completely inundated with bait fish that were seeking shelter from marauding packs of little tunny's and amberjacks. Visibility on the wreck dropped to a mere few feet each time the predators would swoop down to try there luck at the hapless bait swirling around the wreckage. It was quite a sight to see.

     Monday brought another double header, but this time on the wreck of the Caribsea with American Diving Supply chartering the Midnight for the entire week; the Caribsea was the scene of a recent mind blowing dive just a few weeks ago where over a hundred sand tiger sharks were found lurking about on the wreck. (If you don't believe me click this link to watch the video from July 17.)

     With visibility in the 30 foot range with slightly clearer water higher in the water column, the divers managed to find themselves surrounded by still plenty of sand tiger sharks not to mention a mass of bait fish dodging for survival from more predators circling around the perimeter of the wreck. Every now and again you could watch a ball of bait instantly gather tightly around a cruising sand tiger shark while a jack would pass near bye. Sometimes the mass of bait would be so thick that the shark would disappear within them. 

A Sand Tiger Shark surrounded by baitfish. (New)
     I managed to get in the water for a photo shoot with me new Nikon D800 and try my luck at some shark poses. I have had a concept for a shot where a shark would be emerging from one of these perfectly shaped bait balls and have not had much luck achieving what I wanted; that is until today. 

     After snapping more than 130 images I managed to nail two shots that I am proud to show you on this blog report. Sometimes that is how photography underwater work; one will spend a lot of time and effort on a dive to return at the end of the day with a single 'keeper' photo and feel like the day was a success.

     The Caribsea was not the last double header we had this week so far. Yesterday, the same group from American Diving Supply wanted to check out the wreck of the Papoose some 32 miles from Beaufort Inlet. We experienced heavy rains and threatening storm systems the entire ride out to the wreck site but eventually made it there safe and sound.

Midnight Express mate, Mike Phillips .
     After my mate, Mike Philipps tied us off to the wreck he radioed up on the com that the viz was about 60-70 feet or better. "It is about as pretty as it has been all season" he stated through the head set. Once again all on board had a stunning dive with Caribbean blue water with temps in the high 70's nearly to the bottom. 

     The American Divers all made the jump in partly sunny skies that turned the water in to a deep hue of blue beneath. The warm clear water made it easy to see large segments of this ship that was turned in to a wreck at the hands of a German U-boat in WWII. There were a handful of sharks present as well as a school of beautiful african pompano and the usual multitudes of over sized amberjacks and barracuda. 

Proof of the blue water on the wreck of the Papoose.
The photo shoot wasn't a complete bust I suppose.
     I jumped in for a dive on the surface interval while all the divers sat atop huddled under the canopy in the pouring rain. Although I had a beautiful dive down there the photo shoot did not pan out so well. I suppose Mercury wasn't aligned just right with Pluto and Saturn thus throwing the universe out of kilter for me. I just couldn't get the shot I wanted. This too is a fact of life with underwater photography; sometimes you come home empty handed. 

     Three days of double headers came to an end today on Wednesday when a strong weather system offshore has kept us at the dock for the day. We are scheduled to run the rest of the week in to the weekend and when I have some new news I will be back with an updated Dive Blog Report.

Happy Diving!


Sand tiger sharks in the greenish blue hued water of the Caribsea. (New)
from the wreck of the Caribsea July 17, 2012.

Photo Tip of the Week
RAW Files

     To shoot RAW or not to shoot RAW, that is the question. When I get asked that, as I do on a regular basis, I always answer, "if you want to get the most out of your photography then shoot RAW and learn to process your images". RAW files, otherwise known as the digital negative, are uncompressed files of your photos that require a certain amount of post processing with softwares such as Photoshop and Lightroom. The RAW image may lack contrast, color saturation and sharpness to name but a few. It is up to the processor to add the elements back in to the image and recreate the scene with which they saw. 

     These RAW files are only suitable for photographers who plan on processing their files after shooting them. If you are not one of these people then be content on shooting JPEG files and having images that will be less than what they can be.  JPEG's are compressed files with a loss of data each time your save the file. They are not suitable for fine art photography but more for snapshots and posting images on the web or sending via email since they are smaller files. 

     Also, processing digital images is not cheating when done correctly. I have written about this in previous blogs and won't dwell on the ethics of Photoshop in this post. Let me remind you though that Ansel Adams, the world famous landscape film photographer of yore, did his finest work in the darkroom.

     So in short, shoot RAW and sign up for a Lightroom or Photoshop course and learn to make the most of your images. Your photography will love you for it.

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1 comment: said...

This is really an amazing photo! I am really in awe of it and also wonder how these are taken. I mean being in such close proximity of these killer creatures. WOW

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