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.