Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taxed by the ocean (25 days and still working on this strobe thing)

Foam dances atop a wave breaking at sunset

Thursday, I got taxed by the ocean, due to the error of not properly securing my gear.
Trying to swim back with my camera gear in both hands and no fins was not a fun game, and almost ended very badly for me. "Luckily" for me, an 8 foot face wave picked me up and threw me over the falls. As I braced myself for impact, my hand let go of the strobe. Once the turbulence of the incoming wave faded I popped my head out of the water as I gasped for air. In front of me was my strobe floating among the sea foam being dragged out to sea as another larger wave threatened to break. I made my decision and dove after the strobe. Reaching it just in time.
The euphoria of having it back in my grasp was short lived, as the oncoming wave pounded me. Again, My strobe was ripped from my fingertips. This time I was sucked back out as more waves pounded the shore. My strobe no where to be seen.

A few other images I've taken since my last post.

A wave breaks during sunset on a Hawaiian beach

Wave, sunset, and mountains.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surf strobe: test number two

Yesterday I learned why it's important to read the owners manual. I kept firing off the strobe, but it wouldn't fill in any light. After an hour in an out of the water, multiple time removing the cords and dome port I couldn't figure it out.
Checking the fiber optic cable for flaws  "I see the light"

And then, after one switch of the nob the strobe goes from not outputting any power to full blast!  Too bad I realized 10 minutes too late, and missed out on the epic sunset.

Shots Test 2:

Best of yesterday

Surf and a deep purple sky

Strobe fired way too hot.

surf completely frozen by the strobe.  I love the way water looks when strobed

Obviously, these aren't Jaw dropping images. But I am pleased at the direction I'm moving in, and can't wait till my next sunset in the surf. 

Friday, August 19, 2011


I got the idea this week to slave my strobe to my surf housing. Spent all day trying to get the fiber optic cable to sync with the strobe.

Surf housing connected to ys-27 dive strobe

Girlfriend's off work by 6:40,  sunset at 6:58.

After a 35 minute drive to sandy's, we arrive at the tail end of the sunset. Oh well, I'll test the strobes in the dark (this will cost me later)

My camera settings were all over the place, and aiming the strobe is more difficult then I would have thought. ... But, the strobe fired, and the results show that there is some potential.

Shore break at night. 

 My strobe hand kept getting submerged before the camera, so I think I need to hold the strobe with the hand closest to shore.

Night time barrel ( strobe test)

This shot is kinda interesting.  I think it's the Lip of a smaller wave falling onto the camera. 
water falls onto my camera
Remember when I said it would cost me?  Well it was time to pay my dues. A larger set rolled in. I saw it and tried to dive into the wave as the lip was crashing down.  Since I have the camera in one hand and the strobe in the other I dove straight in, both hands straight out like an olympic swimmer. The result was the wave slamming my housing into my head. 
Head split open from surf housing


Friday, July 29, 2011

One intense shark dive!

It has been a while since my last shark dive. More then a year ago. Since then, I have heard that the buoys and location I use to dive at are no more. So after a couple of emails corresponding with the owner of North Shore Shark Adventures, I was granted permission to moor off the shark cage buoy. Boy have things changed!

I was the first to jump in the water. Once the bubbles cleared away I was greeted with a spectacular site. Thousands of fish everywhere.
millions of bait fish

About 90' below the bait fish, a group of yellow fin tuna circled.
tuna below
Yellow fin tuna
But I couldn't float in awe for too long, I needed to tie off the jet ski to the buoy. I did this pretty nervously, constantly looking behind my shoulders as sharks circled.

shark and bait fish
Bait fish and sharks 
sharks circle near
Sharks circle

shark swims overhead
shark swims above

Once Paul got in the water the sharks came to investigate. One shark, a smaller female, was very curious making us both a little nervous. She would swim straight in, bumping our fins from the back and from the front we had to push her away. Eventually we got our cool back and we were able to enjoy the attention.

sharks, and xcel diver

sharks and ahi
Diver, Shark, and Ahi

Whenever the shark tours would leave or swap boats all the sharks at the cage would come and investigate us. The next five minutes would be spent pushing away the bombardment of shark snouts. Eventually they would lose interest and we would be back to diving in peace.

shark cage
I count 15 sharks

I'm not sure how I feel about riding on the sharks fin. While I have done so in the past, I think I have moved on. Seeing it now as too invasive for the sharks. My friend however wanted a few shots, and since he was generous enough to take me out shark diving, I obliged.

shark rider

I just wish he would have at least helped pick off the parasites ;)
Echthrogaleus coleoptratus (?)

The new location Is great, and I hope to get a few more shark dives in before the winter swells hit!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spinner dolphins.

‎45 minute drive to the surf break... No surf!

1.75 hour drive to the west side of the island...
My freedive Fins break!

Wait! Dolphins! Grab my duck fins and the day turns epic!

A spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) breaches in front of tour boat

hawaiian spinner dolphins

The bay the dolphins are located in is nothing but sand, and as I am waiting for the dolphins to pass* by me again, I notice the sand floor is littered with odd markings. I imagine they are from the dolphins digging their snouts in search of food.

Odd markings in sand

I take a closer look and sure enough, Crab shrapnel is everywhere.

discarded crab shell

* (hint) Like most animals, chasing a dolphin will lead to it moving away from you. Rarely will it actually result in closing the distance between you and the dolphin.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Xcel 3mm Hydroflex: my 1st commercial shoot since my return to the Island

The hardest part about this photo shoot wasn't diving to 80' feet on a breath hold. It wasn't worrying about the composition or lighting while I had eight stories of water above me. It was trying to convince my old dive buddy to pass along my estimate.

You see, about the same time I left for photography school my old dive buddy got a low level sponsorship with Xcel. He gets "x" amount of free gear a year and in return he sends them (mostly) self-took portraits, and promotes his awesome gear across the web.

From my perspective it was a straight forward request; company ask for photos, professional photographer forwards estimate with reasonable day rate and fees.

However, I can see from his point, "a company is going to spend...Whoa! That much to take photos of me!?" It's pretty incredible that a school teacher can have the support of a large company like Xcel.

 It took a few emails, but he was finally swayed to forward my estimate.

Once the estimate was approved it was all about getting down to business.

During our warm up a large school of 2000+ bait fish drifted into us. As I floated at the jet ski getting ready for a warm up dive, a turtle lazily swims through the bait fish as he ascends to the surface. In one cohesive unit the opelu circle around the turtle, giving me an idea.

Xcel diver sims through huge school of fish
Xcel diver sims through huge school of fish

The first day we had horrible visibility and a slight current. When the vis is bad the submarine stays at a deeper depth. A little too deep for me and my camera. If it wasn't for the opelu, the day would have been a complete wash.

Day 2:

The reshoot went amazing, great vis, no current, and a "shallower" depth.

Xcel diver, dives with submarine
Xcel diver sees what submarine sees
Surfacing from the depths below.

xcel freediver ascends from dive
Xcel freediver ascends from depths normally reserved for submarines 

45 minutes the following evening was set for the lifestyle shots:
1 (beautiful) assistant,
2 speedlights,
some great results:

xcel wetsuit
Xcel diver prepares for his dive. Photograph by Derek Broussard

Working with Xcel was a great experience. Not only does the company produce superb equipement, the art director was a pleasure to work with.  Hopefully more jobs will come in the future.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Breath-holds in Random Places, Part 1: The sharks den

A couple days ago, I was finishing my dive at a local beach with a couple statics (breath hold without swimming). Laying there underwater with the sun light bouncing above my head, and large fish swimming around me, an idea filters into my head.

"How cool would it be to get video of me holding my breath in all these random places!"

Breath-holds in Random Places (BRP): The idea is to get video of me doing statics underwater, in unusual places, in the presence of wild predators, or with interesting scenery.

My first Video of BRP:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ethics, why we should be doing more then just touching

Paul pets a shark
Freediver pets a galapagos shark
©Derek Broussard

As a child we have experiences that we carry with us for the rest of our lives,  and form us into the adults we are today. These experiences do not have to be big, they can indeed be very small, a look given to you after a bad or good deed, being teased, or maybe just a story. 

Back in kindergarden I had one of these character altering experiences. We had a guest speaker at the school.  I really can't remember why she was invited to speak at the school, but I do remember one of the storys she presented. 

It was of her garden. This guest speaker had a green thumb and loved her garden. Every morning rain or shine she would be out in her garden. On an early spring morning she saw a baby spider weave a web in-between two leaves in her favorite plant...her tomato plant I think it was. Being a serious gardener she knew that the spider would only benefit the life of her most favorite plant, so she let this little spider's home stay. 

Common Garden Spider
©Derek Broussard
The next morning as she was maintaining her garden, methodically making her way to her favorite plant, she was struck with an idea, "If the spider helps my tomatoes, then helping the spider helps me." So by the time she made it to the tomato bush she had caught a plant devouring insect to feed to the spider. She watched in awe as the aphid was quickly subdued by the spiders and eagerly devoured. 

Every morning she continued her routine, with the added task of feeding her spider. A week into the feeding, she said that the spider which she apply named "Charlotte" was able to recognize her and would run out from under her shaded leaf into her web. By the end of the month, she was able to pet Charlotte before it was fed. 

The spider was officially habituated to her presence. 

Humans have a unique gift where we are able to understand and interact with animals. 

Shaun Ellis lived with a wild wolf pack in Idaho for two years. 

Charlie Vandergraw lives with grizzly bears 6 months out of the year

Some sharks have been known to act like your fellow canine and nudge divers to be petted. I've personally seen galapagos sharks recognize a certain diver and nuzzle their nose into them to be petted .

You'll find most people believe that we should leave animals alone, and that any interaction will change their behavior. Well I got news, our over population of earth is already changing nature. In a bad way.

As a shark diver, I believe that interacting with sharks helps the public views of the animal. When Mr. Ellis lived with the wolves he learned valuable information that helped farmers with alternatives in protecting their livestock.

Humans have an innate ability to understand, adapt, and transform behaviors to fit in with the animal kingdom. We should stop fighting against nature. Learn to adapt, except and excel with our world.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learning from the hunters.

Spearfisher and hamerhead evolution

The majority of underwater photographers are very  pro-conservation. Some even going to the lengths of boycotting movies when scenes were not filmed with proper underwater etiquette. So it comes at no surprise that the UW photography community often holds little love for the spearfishing community.

But wait, the spear fishermen spend a lot of time in the water learning fishes behavior and how to "call" them close. This could be a very useful tool to a cameraman who is trying to get a fish in for the right shot. 

Here are some tricks that I've learned while hanging out with the spearos: 

Flashers - Predatory fish love things that sparkle. I have used everything from glueing on reflective tape to my fins to keep large fish around,  to dropping spoons to get them curious and in the right spot.

Dusting -  Some fish like to eat little bugs and worms that live in the sand. Animals like Rays will chomp down and the sand will plume out of the gills. Smaller fish will come right in to see if there is anything left they can scavenge on. To simulate this all we have to do is toss a little bit of sand up, and fish will come running for lunch. 

Tapping rocks-  I'm guessing the reef chompers like the Uhu ( parrot fish)  make some noise when grinding on the reef. Tap two rocks together and you're mimicking the sound, other fish will come on in to see whats so tasty. 

Grunting - Many types of fish will grunt when another fish is entering their territory. Capitalize on the fish's curious nature to get them to check you out. 

But I think the biggest thing that I have learned from the spearos is how to blend in with the environment. Using the terrain, staying still, and for god sake, NO bubbles. Unless you are a freediver, you would never imagine how most fish feel uncomfortable with the bubbles of a scuba tank.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hawaiian sea turtle,

  There is a nice little secluded Beach within 2 miles from my residence. This beach just happens to be teaming with Honu ( hawaiian green sea turtle's).  Bored out of my mind I hopped on my bicycle, camera in my backpack and headed down to the water.

swimming with the hawaiian sea turtle, Chelonia mydas
green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

swimming with the hawaiian sea turtle, Chelonia mydas
green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

  I also got word that this beach is a prime spot for hammerhead pups, Jun-Aug. So more trips are on the way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

flat-1' on the west side. ( still got photos)

Derek Broussard photographing surf ;)
Small surf day on the west side....Its a hard life ;)

Small surf on west Oahu, hawaii.
My view

Small surf on west Oahu, hawaii.
Inside a glass house

jello love
Jello love
I don't know, I just like the water shrapnel at the end.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A beach to myself on a stormy friday morning

Friday morning started off with me heading to KillerTacos to view my first commercial print, a 24"x36" canvas wrap. It was printed from Bayphotos and looks Amazing!
Print Displayed at Killertacos, North shore Oahu

 After my visit to Killertacos, I headed to the north shore shore break made famous by Clark Little, Ke Iki beach. It was a stormy weekday morning and the beach was completely empty. A good thing for me; I needed some alone time to refresh my ability to be comfortable in surf and an empty beach would spare me the embarrassment of others seeing. 

"Strike the sea with your rod." So it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.
A look up reveals a ceiling of water 

 My surf housing is brand new. At only two weeks old, I am still trying to work out the kinks. Such as the following image.  To control the aperture and shutter speed, Spinning dials are used. If the dials are pressed down, then it is possible for the surf to spin the dials and change the setting. This is what happend to the following image ( sadly probably the best of the day).

Image strait from camera, f/18 1/1000 iso 400

Shore break on a stormy Northshore day 
Luckily I was able to save the image in post op. I doubt I will use the image for anything other then showing you guys how my Friday went.