Friday, March 31, 2006 

Fuji F810 to E900 Camera. The Upgrade Rocks!

I got my new Fuji E900 and I couldn't be more pleased with the upgrade from my trusty F810.

Although the lens system is the same and the sensor isn't radically different, somehow Fuji did a lot of fine-tuning behind the scenes. it is now a 9MP camera and shoots 18MP RAW files (I shoot almost exclusively in RAW). I'm noticing that the images are noticeably sharper, have even richer color and come out of Camera RAW with little needed corrections, or just auto corrections. And that's off the first "roll" today.

The camera usability is much improved. First off I like the grip, at least for a guy it's much better, I can really wrap my hand around it and the rubber on it feels secure. Much of the camera can be worked with the right hand (don't know how south-paws are going to like it). Gone is the slide switch and roller for adjusting exposure, everything is push-buttons, which should also translate to easier use uw. Hit a button as you bring it up to your face and it's ready to roll.

The screen is a vast improvement, although slightly bigger, it is much, much easier to see in the sun and has larger numbers for us old folks. There is now a real-time histogram that you can actually see. Better feedback from the ready light, also lets you know when focus is achieved.

Why anyone makes a camera that uses other than AA batteries, I don't know. I now have an endless supply and can standardize my batteries to all my uses. As technology improves with larger capacity batteries, so will my camera. write times are pretty good, I did notice that the flash is a bit slower to recharge.

A few new features in the software; one I like is that the continual auto focus can now be switched on, and doesn't require two hands to depress the button while also shooting, like the F810. Nice feature for action shots. ISO 800 is now available in all MP settings, as well as RAW. The later might be interesting to play with for some deep available light shots using a magic filter perhaps.

They put the photometry into the menu, instead of on the 4-way button, which I preferred and I really did like the auto close of the flash on the F810, as well as the durable metal body. The RAW setting is even more buried, the setting menus now have layers, so it's like down 4, over 1, down 3, over 1 and adjust. Why they won't put it under the "f" button is beyond me. Chroma issues remain about the same, although I need to do some more testing.

But man, for $300 this is a sweet camera! Now to buy the Ike housing and Inon strobe, etc and get it wet!

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Behrens Helps Me Identify Doris montereyensis

Doris montereyensisI wrote to the Sea Slug Forum:

"Looking for an id on this guy. About the closest I can find is Diaulula sandiegensis, and Dave Behrens notes that the spots can be different or missing."

Behrens replies: "Actually this is the white variation of Doris montereyensis (previously Archidoris montereyensis). This white variation always confuses folks, so don't sweat it. Diaulula has a velvety looking dorsal surface due to the spicules protruding from tiny tubercles. Doris has much larger, rounded tubercles like in your photo. Just like the common yellow form of this species, the black spots extend over some of the tubercles."

Best wishes,
Dave Behrens
Behrens, D.W., 2006 (Mar 27). Comment on Diaulula sandiegensis? from Puget Sound by Jack Connick. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Locality: Rosario Beach - Urchin Rocks, Deception Pass State Park, 30', Washington, USA, Rosario Strait, Puget sound, Pacific ocean, 18 March 2006, Rocky crevice. Length: 3.5". Photographer: Jack Connick.


Posession Point Redeux

Rebreather Randy
I'm between strobes, etc due to upgrading, but took some above water shots from our club boat dive trip yesterday off Possession Point at the south end of Whidbey island in Puget Sound.

We dove our favorite site, the sunken ferry there, and then did a second dive at "The Fingers" around the corner.

Topside support personnel got fairly seasick in the chop and my dive buddy Dr. Kay had a runaway regulator at the surface, so I dove solo. Had a great dive on the wreck, no current and decent vis. Saw two Giant Red Dendronotid nudis, one was laying eggs. They are about 10" long and look like soft coral. Lots of large ling cod, but I didn't see Big Bertha, who is as big as I am. Had a couple of fouled anchors.

We managed to drag into another boat and get their anchor snagged on our prop. Had to set another anchor, tension it and then unsnag ourselves. Of course then we'd missed the current window and most on our boat scotched a second (or third) dive. But all had a good time.

More at: Possession Point Boat dive

Sunday, March 19, 2006 

Rosy Rosario

The Marker Buoy dive club held a shore dive at Rosario Beach, in Deception Pass State Park on Saturday.
I was able to get a ride with friends, and we arrived right at the meet time of 9 am, unlike our trip organizer, Carl, who arrived about 45 mins late, wondering why he had scheduled it so early. No problem, as we weren't hitting slack anyway. Others had had their dog chew their dive under-garments, or had a run-in with the State Police as regards the speed limit. So we moved pretty slowly, but got ready and hiked the fair distance on a good path to enter the water close to Urchin Rocks. I had a few problems getting in (like forgetting to turn on my air), but one of my buddies, Matt, got me straightened out and we swam out to begin the dive.
When we went down the visibility was terrible, like diving in 2% milk, apparently a fairly common occurrence at this site, due to the river run-off from the Skagit. We lost track of each other pretty quickly. As depths were quite shallow (around 30-35'), and I had previously told Matt and Mary Alice not to worry about me as I was taking pictures, there wasn't any problem. Most dive teams had the same problems and got lost and separated as well, swimming out too far on the shallow flats and loosing track of the rocks. Some made it to Rosario Head and reported a nice wall and better depths, but only two made it around the head to Sharpe Cove on the other side, due to adverse currents.
I fiddled around the rocks trying to find critters to shoot - not having too much luck as even with macro the vis was so bad I couldn't really see the focus and exposure of my shots.
Clown Nudibranch
I kept the rocks to my left and ended up going through the middle slot and after finding the rocks then to my right, I gave up and surfaced to get some bearings. Funny, I could see a sea of divers' heads poking up in the distance like otters looking around for a meal!
I dove back down as I had lots of gas left, and swam around the north end of the rocks and ended up back with Mary Alice to swim back in. At least we started and ended the dive together!
Most divers agreed that the rocks and particularly Rosario Head would be a good dive in better conditions, and would like to try it again. The best comment I heard was; "My buddy kept pointing things out, but I couldn't see his hand!"
The best part of the day for all was having a picnic and hiking around park to enjoy the views and sunshine.
Photos are at: Rosario Beach shore dive

Sunday, March 12, 2006 

Bonfire of the Boathouse

I came up Saturday to my sailboat that I keep at Blaine Harbor Marina. My mission was to dive on my, and Jim's boat to replace the zincs and check them out. Not a fun job and one that I've put off for better weather. Zinc anodes are placed underwater on boats as sacrificial anodes that corrode faster than brass. Otherwise props, thru-hull valves and other fittings will rot.

I was amazed to see that my zincs we're in decent shape, even after a year. Jim's were even better. I cleanned up the props and shafts of barnacles and crud. Surfacing, I found two other boat owners talking to Jim and asking if I could check out their nearby boats. Oh well, make a friend.

One was a mess, but the bottom paint looked ok, so I advised an in-out haul and pressure wash to change his zincs. Jim's friend Bob had a trawler whose zinc also had about 4 months left on it, so I left well enough alone. Seems like Blaine Marina has got excellent electrical characteristics. Not so at some marinas where zincs only last 4 months. Out of the water, throw my gear in my dingy, and on to the 5th (!) boat, a Cruise-a-Home.

It's props and rudders were the worst of the lot, looked like a seafood buffet; barnacles, mussels, sponge, tunicates and lots of crud. Scraping it filled the water with a huge cloud of crud, so I had to work blind. Again, after a year, he still had some zincs left, maybe 25%. I started in adding and changing the 2 shaft zincs and hull plate. All went well until I dropped one screw and he didn't have a spare. But I left it in a lot better order, and will finish the job in a couple of months.

Hauling myself out of the water, I was cold and tired. After motoring back to my boat, and cleaning up my gear, my new friend Bob invited us back over to his trawler for a drink. Jim doesn't drink, but Bob and I tucked into a fifth of Jack Daniels and left it half empty in a couple of hours, swapping racing and boating "stories".

After we went out to dinner, I retired to my boat and was reading at around 11 pm when a boat in the boathouse across from me blew up and caught fire.

I heard shouts and stuck my head out my hatch to see sparks and flames shooting out from a fairly new 37' Trojan powerboat down the slipway from me. It wasn't a huge fire, but was very smokey. I heard sirens, but called 911 anyway. After that, I ran down the dock to get anyone else up and alert, so they could move their boats, or get out if it got worse. My friends Alan and Tammy soon joined me to watch the fire and ponder our options on moving our boats.

Not a good move, as we would of had to go past the fire. There was a sprinkler system and it was keeping the fire from spreading, thank god. About then, after maybe 20-25 minutes or so, the fire department got down to the boat, put a hose on it and vented the boathouse.

The Canadian-owned Trojan was pretty much destroyed on it's aft-end, but wasn't causing a spill, so the USCG wasn't called. One other man who lives aboard a boat a few slips down was taken to the hospital for a checkup after inhaling some smoke. Other boats were sooty, but undamaged for the most part. No question that had there not been a sprinkler system, the whole boathouse would of gone up. It would of been very hard to put out with the limited fire resources that Blaine has.

Still, a sad sight, I hope the owners didn't loose too much that can't be replaced.

About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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