First Underwater Images from the Canon G-10

Posted in Under the Sea on June 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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Yesterday I had my first dive with my new Canon G10 and the WP-DC28 factory underwater housing. I’ve been enormously satisfied with the results I’ve gotten over the past year with the G9 and its factory housing. Given my style, mostly available light rather than flash, the camera suited me well and always gave me good images.
The G10 camera and housing are both improvements on excellent products. The G10 seems to be much less noisy in low light conditions. Here is an example of how well it can deliver even when the photographer is not paying attention:LionfishI was far too far away for the shot, but it was near the end of the dive and I just couldn’t be bothered to take the time to get in close for a proper exposure.  Even with the poor lighting, I still have a usable image. Lionfish shots are a dime a dozen, anyway. You can see some of my other Lionfish images here, here, here, here, and here. The Lionfish also appears on a PNG coin.

Here’s an even better example, this one with flash. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a better shot of a Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):

Clark's AnemonefishThey are very cute, of course, but devilishly difficult to shoot. They never hold still and the coal black body against snow white bars makes an impossible contrast ratio for the camera. If you click this one to enlarge, you’ll even see some detail in the black and white areas – something I’ve not been able to achieve this well before. I think I’ll do even better when I get used to the camera. More fun with Clark’s Anemonefish here (orange variation), here, here, here, here, and here.

At 15 megapixels, the camera gives you plenty of image to mess with. You can take a shot from a little farther away, providing the water is clear enough. This allows more perceived depth of field so that everything is nicely in focus. The camera focuses in an instant and almost always on what you want to be in focus. I need to fiddle a bit more with the focus settings – there are a ton of them:

Clark's AnemonefishI’m not very happy with the software that came with the camera. Correcting both tint and colour temperature require visiting two separate dialogue boxes. This is unlike Photoshop in the Camera RAW filter (I always shoot RAW mode for underwater – it’s the only way to go) where both controls are right next to each other in the same dialogue box and you can see the results in the preview window as you slide the controls. The only problem is that I haven’t gotten the latest version of the Camera RAW filter to work yet. It contains the code necessary for the G10.

Here’s a nice shot of a Bulb Anemone that shows the level of detail and low noise that the G10 delivers. This shot was sans flash on an overcast day at about 25 metres – pretty impressive results, I’d say:

Bulb AnemoneYou can see a couple of other bulb anemones here and here.

Here’s another shot that is interesting from a technical view. The highlights on the anemone bulbs would have been completely blown out (washed out blank white) on any previous camera that I’ve used. In this shot there is still  detail and gradations of shade:

Bulb AnemoneI’m really happy with my new rig. People pay thousands of dollars for underwater cameras that don’t produce images any better than these. The differnce is that the extra money buys you mostly more light on the subject. If you are willing to stay within the confines of available light and limit youself to close shots when using flash, you can take professional quality undewater photos for way under a thousand US$. The G10 costs about US$400 and the housing was, I think, less than $200.

I don’t see how one could do much better. It is one of those delightful situations in which you can still get a lot for your money.

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Underwater Variety Pack

Posted in Under the Sea on March 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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I spent the day wrestling a herd of piggish computers in the mud-hole of DHCP and DNS problems. It’s fixed now, but I feel all stinky from the smell of fear (you IT guys know what I’m talking about – when nobody at the office smiles at you UNTIL YOU MAKE IT WORK AGAIN).  Please, somebody, anybody . . . take my job!

So, I’ll relax for a few minutes and show you some fishy stuff.

There are lots of pretty starfish. But, there are few large pretty starfish. This is one of them. Behold Choriaster granulatus:

Starfish (Choriaster granulatus)

The specimen above was about 25cm across.

This blue giant is a Hump Headed Parrotfish (Bulbometopon muricatum):

Hump Headed Parrotfish (Bulbometopon muricatum)

It’s very difficult to get close to them. This was an exceedingly lucky shot. I swam as fast as I could to get close to it quickly as it glided along slowly. Suddenly, it turned, possibly to get a better look at me. I snapped. The big blue fellow hustled away down the slope and was out of sight in a couple of seconds. They eat coral. We sometimes see big groups (up to maybe 20) swimming around chomping on the hard coral. The front of the head is very bony and the teeth are like giant concrete dentures.

This floppy thing is a Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica). It has become detached by the surge of the waves on the top of the reef. It’s not a problem for the creature. When the waves settle down, it will spread out and reattach itself. If you click to enlarge you can see the little sucker thingies on the underside that fix themselves to the rocks. There are two Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) living in this anemone. I’ve featured many kinds of Anemonefish here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)

Finally, we have this shy horror, the Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus).

Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus)

I love to see the look on a diver’s face when he first sees one of these. It’s really too funny for words.

So, I won’t try.

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Sun Comes Up – Divers Go Down

Posted in Under the Sea on March 4th, 2009 by MadDog
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When I get up early on a Saturday morning and it looks like this:

Sunrise in my front yard - Canoe and birdsI feel as if the world is grinning at me. I grin back.

Here’s some images from a recent Saturday Dive.

If the name on your Birth Certificate was Plagiotremus rhinorrhynchos, I’d feel empathy for you. If you can imagine the sad story of a boy growing up in a very tough neighbourhood with the name of Jan Messersmith, maybe you could appreciate my empathy. I still have scars on my knuckles to attest to the agony. I’ve never forgiven my mother for it. It’s even worse for this little fellow. His nickname is Bluestripped Fangblenny. No wonder that he’s hiding in a hole:

Bluestriped Fangblenny (Plagiotremus rhinorrhynchos)I’ve shown Blennies on Madang – Ples Bilong Mihere, here, here, and here.

I made it worse for myself when I reached the age of sixty. I decided enough is enough. I’m old enough to decide what I want to be called. So I changed the pronunciation of my given name. Instead of the much-maligned Jan (rhyming with can) I decided I wanted to be called Jan (rhyming with yon – as in “By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes”). As you can imagine, this caused much consternation and no little laughter among my friends. I felt like a clown. I still do. I don’t mind. Speaking of clowns, here’s a Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula):

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)I showed you another Clown Anemonefish here.

While we’re on Anemonefish, let’s have a couple of more. Try these Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):

Clark's Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)I have no idea who Clark is. I can only assume it is not Clark Kent. He doesn’t seem the type to have a fish named for him. However, his alter-ego might be proud to have an Amphiprion supermanii.

Hmmm . . . I appear to be drifting. I’m like a teensy-weensy tectonic plate drifting on a molten globe of magmatic thought. I’d better get out of here.

But, before I leave for the day, I’ll show you my favourite of the day. Here’s the darling, shiny, all-too-brilliant Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus): (you can find another Spinecheek here.)Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)Would that I were so handsome, but ça ne fait rien.

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The Aquarium in My Front Yard

Posted in Under the Sea on November 29th, 2008 by MadDog
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With my dive count now over two thousand, it’s amazing to me that all but possibly a hundred have been within a ten minute boat ride from our dock. This must surely make me one of the luckiest divers on the planet.
Since I’m feeling so lucky today, let me show you some of the lucky shots that I got this morning with Tris, Tracey and Pascal.

I’ve seen this fish around many times, but have only today been able to get a photo of one. I can identify most local fishes generically, if not specifically, but I haven’t bothered to look this one up yet. I usually don’t bother to learn a lot about a certain species until I have a photo of it that I can label with it’s taxonomic name. I usually go by common names, as do most divers:

Mystery FishFor now, I will call it “The Mystery Fish.”

This toothy little horror is Clark’s Anemonefish. The teeth are real and they do hurt when they bite. What’s more, they like to bite:

Clark's Anemonefish

Here’s another anemonefish that is not so feisty. This is the Pink Anemonefish. The interesting feature of this show is the oral disk of the anemone at the centre of all the tentacles. This is, of course, where the anemone puts its food for digestion. I fed an anemone half a banana once. (Yes, divers get bored.) It seems that they will eat just about anything. It took about fifteen minutes for it to ‘swallow’ the banana. I didn’t wait around to see if it coughed it back up:

Pink Anemonefish and Magnificent Anemone

The other interesting thing about oral disk is that it is where many of the anemonefish sleep.

Here’s some beautiful yellow anthea of some kind frolicking around in the coral:

Anthea

Everybody recognises this mean looking fellow. It is, of course, the giant moray eel:

Giant Moray Eel

This particular fellow was being very uncooperative. Every time I tried to get close enough for a shot, he’d pull his head back into his hidey hole. They are usually not so shy. In fact, the situation is usually the exact opposite – staying far enough away so as not to scare yourself into soiling your wetsuit.

We’ll end up with two cute and harmless cousins – members of the hawkfish family.

This is the Arc-Eyed Hawkfish. Explaining the name would be superfluous:

Arc-Eyed Hawkfish

And, this grumpy but passive little guy is the Freckled Hawkfish:

Freckled Hawkfish

Again, the origin of the common name is obvious.

I’ve sometimes been asked why I capitalize all of the fish names. There’s some controversy over capitalization of fish names. I won’t get into that boring academic fussiness. I will just say that it’s common courtesy to capitalize proper names.

I ask myself if I was a fish, how would I introduce myself – how would it be written as a conversational snippet?

Maybe something like this:

I’d walk up to a table in a fashionable restaurant where seated is a ravishing woman. I’d take her hand, bow slightly, and say, “Hawkfish, Freckled Hawkfish.”

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