A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeds in a bonito spawning event off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico
There’s no other way to put it: our first day of photographing the whale shark aggregation off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, was absolutely epic. Within an hour of leaving port, we found a group of over 300 whale sharks, all feeding constantly on the huge concentration of fish eggs in the water. I’m exhausted now and don’t have time to process and video (I’ve been shooting both 2D video with the Canon 5D Mark II and 3D video with my custom rig), but I can at least present a few photos (for now — more later, including 3D, slow-motion whale shark feeding!). (read more »)
Our group has transferred to Isla Mujeres from Puerta Aventura and has just finished our first day of photographing the whale shark aggregation that is here feeding on bonito spawn.
3D video workflow has proven to be the downfall of my relatively-new MacBook Pro, and so I am unable to show you any new video at this point. I have a 1:36 video that is ready to show, but uploading is proving to be difficult from my connection here in Mexico.
Cave diver at Cenote Chac-Mool, Mexico
Instead, I’ll leave you with 4 images taken during my 2 dives with a still camera. These images were taken at Cenote Kulkulkan and Cenote Chac-Mool. (read more »)
For my first underwater 3D shoot, I dove cenote Chac-Mool, which is about 20 KM from Playa Del Carmen (just outside of Cancun). I had never taken my modified BS Kinetics 3D housing underwater, so I had to first mount lights on it and do a pool test for buoyancy. Adding 4 lbs made the housing almost exactly neutral, although it is just a little bit back heavy.
I HEART 3D
I was quite worried because a dark cave is not exactly the best place to use a camera system that relies on auto-exposure for its picture. I set the camera to underexpose 3 units (whatever that means in Sony land) and hoped for the best. The results were actually quite good!
Here is the first clip I processed, which shows Mario, our dive guide, swimming through a halocline (the layer between fresh water and salt water, which is more dense). Don’t worry — the fuzzy halocline water clears up after a few seconds.
Use red-cyan classes to see this 3D video and view full screen for best results!
I’ll do a more formal write-up about my 3D workflow when it is fully tested, but at the moment, it includes ClipWrap1, MPEG Streamclip, PluralEyes, Final Cut Pro, Dashwood Stereo3D Toolbox, and Compressor. I shot 107 clips (214 total, since each camera shoots separately), taking up a total of 16.6 GB of space (8.3 GB x 2).
Updated 17 Sep 2010: Every once in awhile, ClipWrap leaves the audio track out of re-wrapped AVCHD video from my Sony CX550V camcorder. There is an easy fix for this, which is to open the Perian preference pane, click “Remove Perian” and then (immediately) click “Install Perian.” It appears that Perian gets in a bad state and prevents audio from being transcoded properly. I am now in the habit of always checking my re-wrapped video for an audio channel. Once it fails once, it will fail on every successive re-wrap until Perian is removed and re-installed. ↩
3D test (anaglyph — requires red/cyan glasses) of Quartetto Sugoi in low light using dual Sony CX550V camcorders zoomed in a bit, perhaps, to 40mm (35mm equivalent) or so. Camera sync is approx 16ms apart, which is why there is ghosting when objects move. Video targets large displays (30″+ ideal).
Due to tolerances in manufacturing, it is nearly impossible to get two of these cameras to align perfectly, resulting in the need for rotational geometry correction in post, which may also account for further image degradation (in addition to the low light noise, that is).
Music: Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6, excerpt from first movement (thanks, Quartetto Sugoi!)
After having driven past the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos countless times over the years, I decided to take Pam there for an early celebration of her upcoming birthday. Pam has an airplane fetish and was pretty excited to go.. Even more exciting: Laurel, Antoni, Dave and Charles met us there and surprised Pam as we walked in. (read more »)
Today, I had a whirlwind lunch and chat with Chip Scarlett. In addition to being an underwater photographer, author and conservationist, Chip is a race car driver and biotech CEO.
Chip set up our appointment both to catch up and to hand-deliver his new book, Loving Sharks (which will hopefully be officially released in the U.S. soon). Loving Sharks features beautiful imagery of sharks presented alongside quotes solicited from prominent divers, photographers, cinematographers and conservationists — all of whom are part of Chip’s incredible network within the industry. I look forward to taking a closer look at the book. Thanks, Chip!
I have an article in the latest issue (#66) of Giant Robot Magazine that details 12 tips for successful underwater photography. Each tip includes an example underwater image.
I haven’t actually seen the layout yet, but I’m excited about it nonetheless. SCUBA diving and underwater photography need more young people getting involved. This industry is aging before our very eyes. And — with the continued constant destruction of the planet’s marine habitats, you really need to get in the water NOW to see what is still there to be seen.
A few days ago, I met up with Haegwan Kim, who is conducting an extensive series of interviews for his project, The Law of Success 2.0. Kim says that his goal is to “make the world a better place where all human beings can achieve success with the power of collective intelligence,” and that “the fundamental fallacy of … existing self-development theories is pretending as if there is the universal way to be successful.”
Kim interviewed me for 20 minutes and transcribed our talk word for word (apparently, I start a lot of sentences with, “So…”).
Custom BS Kinetics carbon fiber underwater 3D housing with Sony camcorders
A few days ago, I took delivery of a BS Kinetics DuoDive housing, which is designed to house 2 consumer camcorders for use in capturing underwater 3D video. The housing is a carbon fiber + epoxy oval (as opposed to being a rigid cylinder or machined aluminum housing, which is more typical), and features a flat port, red/orange filter, hinged port cap, and rear LCD that toggles between left and right camera display.
The housing is designed to be generic, which means that a variety of cameras can be mounted inside. I’ve decided to use two Sony CX550V AVCHD camcorders with Sony 0.75X wide-angle adapters (removable). Although the CX550V shoots AVCHD (bleh) at 1080i (double bleh), it has a wide lens (~29mm equivalent) and is easily controlled through LANC. (read more »)
A Photo Editor recently posted about Facebook apps like Walmart, Target and others that allow the printing of photos hosted on Facebook. The problem is that Facebook allows those apps to print your friends’ photos, too, which should be unethical and/or illegal for copyright violation.
I just blocked the following apps and reported them to Facebook for privacy violation:
To block an app, click through to the app when you’re logged into Facebook and then click on “Block Application,” which is an option in the left-hand menu. You can also report the application for bad behavior by scrolling to the bottom of the Application page and clicking on “Report Application.”
There may be more apps that allow the printing of friends’ photos. I’ll block and report every one I come across.
There is no good way to hold two cameras attached to each other, so I had to come up with another way. Here are some photos of two Sony CX550V camcorders set up for 3D stereoscopic imaging, mounted on Really Right Stuff hardware and an Opteka X-Grip. (read more »)
Two Sony CX550V camcorders with wide-angle lenses attached
I was on my way to bed tonight when I decided to do some 3D experiments using my dual Sony CX550V camcorder setup (which I am putting into an underwater housing soon). The two camcorders are mounted on plates and rails from Really Right Stuff, and both also have Sony 0.75x wide-angle adapters attached to them. The stereo base (inter-ocular distance) is 67mm. (read more »)
One of my biggest complaints in earlier versions of Mac OS X (pre-Snow Leopard) was the dreaded network timeout. For example, if I was working on a notebook computer while connected to a networked volume, I could cause a multi-minute timeout (SPOD) for ~2 minutes simply by putting my computer to sleep, disconnecting my network connection, and resuming my session. Eventually, Mac OS would time out and unmount the inaccessible volume, but during that time my machine would be locked up.
When Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) came out it seemed to fix this problem, but lately, I’ve been experiencing similar network timeouts in Mac OS X 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard). I can reproduce it by doing the following, with 2 machines:
Machine A connected to network via hard-wired ethernet. Machine B connected to network via WiFi.
On machine A, mount a volume on machine B via AFP
Disconnect from WiFi network on machine B (and disable WiFi)
Connect machine B to router via hard-wired ethernet (it gets a different IP address via DHCP)
Machine A will then time out for at least 1-2 minutes (SPOD). When timeout expires, the shared volume is unmounted and my machine becomes responsive again.
Here’s a short video from my visit to Bangkok, Thailand for the Thailand Travel & Dive Expo during July 8-11, 2010. Special thanks to Aey and Mean of Dive Supply and Digitalay, and to Khun Fah (TDEX organizer) for inviting me to speak! Also, thanks to Tony Wu for keeping me from getting lost in Thailand. :)