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That teen who rode a whale shark

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echeng110817_081113A

I’m being asked about the kid who rode a whale shark recently, and I have mixed feelings about it. I am, however, sad that there is a witch hunt by so-called conservationists and animal lovers whenever something like this happens. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jun 18, 2013 20:48:04

Go back and reprocess your old pictures!

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(click for full-size version)

I was assembling a collection of underwater images tonight and decided to see what Adobe Lightroom’s 2012 processing engine would do to an old image I took at Roca Partida (Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico) back in 2006. Back then, I used Adobe Photoshop to quickly process the picture from raw to a 2000-pixel JPG image for screen viewing. Tonight, I pulled up the raw file in Adobe Lightroom, chose the 2012 processing engine, and did a few minor tweaks using the Develop module. WOW. It’s like a different picture.

Have you had pictures take on new life when you’ve gone back and reprocessed old raw files using new image-processing software? If you haven’t, it’s time to get started!

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 4, 2013 06:45:53

Diving the Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea, 2012

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Hello, everyone. I’m back from the remote Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea. We only had 6 days out there because two strong tropical storms moved into the area, but the diving was good (until we moved back to the coast).

My 4-week cough turned into a 6-week cough, so I only did 3-4 dives in the Eastern Fields. It was extremely frustrating, but I enjoyed being out on the ocean with a great group of people. Here’s the video slideshow I made for the group:

Music selection by kozyndan. End credits by me and Dan.

Tony Wu (my co-trip leader) has posted a fantastic write-up of the trip, and a Wetpixel thread is tracking more pictures and experiences.

As always, you can see the expeditions we run over at Wetpixel: http://wetpixel.com/expeditions

Eastern FIelds, PNG | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 5, 2012 19:29:24

Underwater Indonesia: Alor and Komodo, November 2011

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Underwater footage from a 26-day Wetpixel underwater photography expedition to Alor and Komodo, Indonesia. Footage taken by me, with Canon EOS 7D, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom lens and Canon 100mm macro lens. Macro footage was lit with dual Light & Motion SOLA 1200 video lights. Additional footage captured with GoPro HERO cameras in modified Eye of Mine underwater 3D housings.

Indonesia | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Dec 2, 2011 22:46:49

Shark Diving in French Polynesia (podcast)

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Support us: download the podcast on iTunes ( find “Shark Diving French Polynesia!”)

In July, I went to French Polynesia with Fabrice Charleux of Plongeur.com to capture stills and video of the incredible schools of gray reef sharks that call its remote atolls home. At that time, I posted only a few still frames from the trip—not because I didn’t want to share, but because I had something larger planned. When I returned home, I called up Mary Lynn Price of DiveFilm and asked her if she would be interested in collaborating in a podcast episode. Luckily, Mary Lynn was excited about the project, and together, we have finally finished and published a new DiveFilm HD episode on the sharks of French Polynesia. To see the video, please download it from iTunes. DiveFilm is currently the only ocean-related podcast featured by Apple, and the only way to make sure it stays there is to have folks download and view it through iTunes!

Links to podcast: DiveFilm HD on iTunes. The episode is called “Shark Diving French Polynesia!”

Special thanks to Fabrice Charleux (gracious host and organizer; translator; subtitling), Mary Lynn Price (editor; podcast goddess), Don Kehoe (grumpy photo assistant), Dave Patchen (supporting friend), Adam Tow (interview camera assistance) and Rae Chang (interview assistance). This would not have been possible without all of you!

Footage taken with Canon 7D, Canon S95, and GoPro Hero camera in Eye of Mine flat-port housing.

Hong Kong | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 18, 2011 01:19:26

Eric Cheng’s Top 10 Underwater Photography Tips

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Here are the slides from the 90-minute seminar I gave at Monterey Shootout 2011. I always create slides without many words, preferring to talk through the points spontaneously, but it may be useful to some folks out there. When I have more time, I’ll come back and add captions with notes about each of the points (and why I included specific pictures and videos).

On a side note, I have discovered that the photo and video player over at Google+ is excellent as a slideshow player on the web (as long as you do not require intra-slide interactivity).1 I can mix still images / video and re-order slides, and the blacked-out “theater” (to steal the Facebook word for it) is pleasing and promotes real-time interaction.

Link: http://ech.cc/uwphototips


  1. Note that I do not really use Google+, yet, so if you interact with me in that social environment, I may not respond. I’m in evaluation mode. I have tried to import my connections via the various methods out there, and Google+ seems to fail constantly when I do anything in batch (e.g., add more than 10 people to a circle at once). 

Monterey, CA | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Sep 12, 2011 16:57:42

Monterey Underwater Film Festival 2011

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The Monterey Underwater Film Festival audience at the Golden State Theater. I took this picture as an opener to my presentation.
The Monterey Underwater Film Festival audience at the Golden State Theater. I took this picture as an opener to my presentation.

Tonight, I spoke at the Monterey Underwater Film Festival, along with Berkley White, Chuck Davis, Stephen Frink and Rick Rosenthal. The film festival, which was attended by approximately 725 enthusiastic audience members, took place at the Golden State Theater and was put on by NCUPS and Backscatter as part of the Monterey Shootout 2011.

The audience was incredible—very “live” and reactive! There was great energy in the air, which always makes an event a lot of fun to be a part of. I was honored to present alongside underwater-imaging pioneers who have decades of experience.

Speakers: Rick Rosenthal, Chuck Davis, Berkley White, Eric Cheng and Stephen Frink. Monterey Underwater Film Festival, September 10, 2011.
Speakers: Rick Rosenthal, Chuck Davis, Berkley White, Eric Cheng and Stephen Frink. Monterey Underwater Film Festival, September 10, 2011.

Monterey, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 11, 2011 01:36:20

Whale shark feeding in 3D

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Here is a 3D video of a whale shark feeding at the surface during a huge whale shark aggregation in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I shot it on August 15, 2011, using a GoPro 3D HERO System and an Eye of Mine 3D flat lens housing (a flat-lens solution is required for a GoPro to focus properly underwater).

The video is best viewed at 720p in some sort of 3D mode.

If you own a 3D display at home, you can download a higher-quality side-by-side version for local display (~99MB; link is good for 500 downloads; if it fails, please let me know). The downloadable video is still highly-compressed and doesn’t quite convey the same 3D coolness that original version does, but it is still effective!

Isla Mujeres, Mexico | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 20, 2011 22:47:31

Kieran Liu, age 5, swims with a whale shark

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Kieran Liu, age 5, had a special experience during his first moments in the ocean as a snorkeler. Showing no fear whatsoever, Kieran swims madly at a 30-foot whale shark, trying to get as close as he can!

Video shot by Eric Cheng in Isla Mujeres, Mexico on August 18, 2011.

| link | trackb | 5 comments » | Aug 20, 2011 07:26:53

Wetpixel Isla Mujeres Expedition 2011, Days 1-3

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Day 3 of the 3rd Wetpixel whale shark expedition in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: We’ve had 3 days of whale shark action so far, and each day has given us something different (but spectacular). The first day, a couple hundred whale sharks were spread out in a rather long stretch of the glassy-calm ocean. The water was relatively clear, considering that it was completely full of transparent tunny eggs from the mass-spawning event three nights earlier. Whale sharks gulped down eggs around us from 8am until our boat left (at 1:30pm).

On the second day, we discovered a small patch of ocean with hundreds of tightly-packed whale sharks. They were so dense that they were forced to feed in layers, and we saw as many sharks ascending and descending as we did on the surface of the ocean (very rare). Our guides were totally excited, saying that the ocean was infestado with whale sharks. After thirty minutes of total whale-shark insanity, the sharks vanished in a coordinated descent into the depths—it was totally bizarre. One minute, we were surrounded by literally hundreds of sharks, and the next, there were only a few left on the surface. All of us, including the local guides, were totally dumbfounded by the strange behavior.

Today (day 3), we found the sharks 4 miles east and 2 miles south of where they were yesterday. It took a coordinated search effort by multiple boats to find them (which took 3.5 hours on the water), and we weren’t in the water until 9:45am. The action was fantastic, with botellas almost literally everywhere we looked (a botella is a stationary whale shark that is vertical in the water, “gulping” water constantly to feed.

I’ve been shooting with both a Nauticam-housed Canon 7D with Tokina 10-17 fisheye zoom lens, and with a 3D GoPro HERO setup (with Eye of Mine 3D underwater GoPro housing). The 3D GoPro setup has been yielding some very interesting footage because I can get the camera in places where a big housing can never go (e.g. right in front of a whale shark that is cruising at speed). I have some interesting 3D footage that I’d love to present, but two failed upload attempts to YouTube are enough; I’ll upload when I return to the States.

In the meantime, here’s a 3D screen-grab from the video (red/cyan 3D glasses required):

3D whale shark gulp with GoPro 3D HERO camera / Eye of Mine 3D underwater housing

3D whale shark gulp with GoPro 3D HERO camera / Eye of Mine 3D underwater housing

I also have cute / precious footage of Kieran Liu (the 5-year-old son of my friends Kenny and Lori) swimming madly after a whale shark (and managing to get really, really close). He is fearless!

Update: here are links to the videos:

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 17, 2011 19:54:44

Hundreds of sharks in South Fakarava

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SHARKS! Video grab from a dive at the south pass of Fakarava

This is a screen grab from a video I took while diving the south pass of Fakarava (Tumakohua). There are hundreds of gray reef sharks there, just hanging out in the current. It was every bit as incredible as it was the last time I was there.

French Polynesia | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 1, 2011 14:23:27

Tahiti shark dive @ TOPDIVE-Bathys, French Polynesia

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We did two shark dives in Tahiti hosted by TOPDIVE-Bathys dive center. I’ve done shark dives all around the world, and was really impressed by the number of gray reef sharks in the area. We had approximately 50 gray reef sharks, a few black-tip reef sharks, and a couple lemon sharks. A tiger shark has been at the dive semi-regularly, but it didn’t show up for us.

Given that Tahiti is an easy, 8-hour flight from LAX, the shark dive at TOPDIVE-Bathys might be the most accessible dive with lots of sharks for those of us who live in California.

I’m told that the baited dive is both new and controversial here on the island, and interestingly, the Tahiti shark dive isn’t even highlighted on the TOPDIVE-Bathys website (but the Moorea shark dive is). But given the quality of the local shark dive, it will no doubt attract a good number of divers in the shark diving community.

Tahiti, French Polynesia | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jul 25, 2011 12:33:45

Off to French Polynesia

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Fakarava, French Polynesia

I haven’t been in the water since December—it’s the longest I’ve been dry in a decade. Obviously, the big reason I haven’t been in the water is that I’ve been busy in my role as Director of Photography at Lytro. Startup life and lots of time underwater do not seem to be compatible. :)

Tomorrow, I’m headed to French Polynesia with my buddies Don Kehoe and Dave Patchen. We’ll meet up with Fabrice Charleux of Plongeur.com for 10 days in Tahiti and Fakarava. I haven’t been to French Polynesia since an epic journey in 2005 with Douglas Seifert, Ron & Valerie Taylor, Mike McDowell, and others, and I’m really looking forward to being there again.

I’ve packed two Canon 7D bodies (thanks, Dan, for the loan of a body!), a Nauticam underwater housing, Ikelite strobes, 4 GoPro cameras in 2 underwater 3D GoPro housings, 2 Lytro prototype light field cameras, and a Fuji X100. That may seem like a lot, but it’s travelling light compared to what I often bring on photography trips.

Sharks, here we come!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jul 21, 2011 00:32:36

Barber Lounge art show opening

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The Barber Lounge hosted its 4th anniversary party tonight, an art show opening featuring works by local artists. 9 of my aluminum prints are hanging in the hair-washing nook (that felt strange to type). The prints will be there until July 5, so if you missed the party tonight, you can still walk in and see them when you have time (and, maybe, get a haircut).

Thanks to everyone who was able to come out—it was great to see all of you! (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Apr 3, 2011 00:20:58

Mother humpback whale and calf

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A mother humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) stays close to her young calf to be prepared to help it breathe at the surface. Vava’u, Tonga. 060728_154530_echeng5002

I never processed and shared this set of images because I had so many to go through, at the time. Looking back through my archive is making me realize that I have quite a few interesting images that no one has else has seen…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Mar 14, 2011 01:17:11

Whale shark cover shot, Dive Magazine UK

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I have the cover image on this month’s Dive Magazine (March 2011 issue), which features whale sharks, manta rays, tiger sharks, and humpback whales.

The image features a friendly, 13-meter-long whale shark near Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos Islands. We surfaced from a dive to find the gigantic fish rubbing her back against our small dive skiff. She then proceeded to swim directly at the divers in our group—one after another—and even made contact with our dive guide, who was unable to get out of the way quickly enough!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Mar 8, 2011 01:05:14

Google’s Jules Verne doodle

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Google is honoring Jules Verne today (it would have been Verne’s 183rd birthday) with an interactive submarine doodle at google.com. You can drive the sub around to see flying fish, narwhals, a basking shark, giant squid, and more! Here’s a video of me taking the virtual sub for a drive (in case you missed it).

Mountain View, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 8, 2011 11:47:46

Shark attack copyright violation by Russian 1TV.ru

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A Russian TV station used my GoPro Underwater Shark Experiment in a news piece about a shark attack.

It’s no wonder videographers use huge watermarks in the middle of their videos (like I do with my stock video).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 13, 2010 22:50:11

Lush coral window (Yilliet, Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia)

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Beautiful Dendronephthya soft corals ring a window in a boulder

During the 30-day trip to Indonesia I’m currently writing from, I’ve focused on taking still images and video with my insect eye setup (wide-angle macro) and a 3D underwater housing. I didn’t even bring a traditional wide-angle dome port, which has made it a little frustrating to be diving in some of the healthiest reefs in the world. Luckily, Don Kehoe is here and lent me his wide-angle rig for 3 dives. I went down and banged out some colorful reef images — felt like I was at home again. :)

Raja Ampat, Indonesia | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Nov 30, 2010 07:17:30

Warty frogfish (Antennarius maculatus), Ambon, Indonesia

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A pair of warty frogfish (Antennarius maculatus). The female is heavily laden with eggs.

We saw nearly 20 different frogfish while we were in Ambon, including warty frogfish, painted frogfish, striated frogfish and more. This female warty is full of eggs. You can see the tiny little male sitting on top of her.

Ambon, Indonesia | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 17, 2010 21:32:39
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