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Up in Alaska, we saw humpback whales come together to cooperatively make a bubble net to feed on small fish.  This isn’t that.

We’d just had a very nice dive and were hanging out on our safety stop when a large, tightly packed group of divers passed underneath us.  It was quite a crowd. Were they all breathing synchronously?  Were they trying to corral us so that they could eat us like the whales?

I’ve certainly seen plenty of other divers’ bubbles before.  But never a wall of bubbles like this.  And the good news is that Juan was there to pose.
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Dive site: Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 1/40th @ f/8, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Here’s a cave-y shot for a non-cave diver (me).

You enter at the surface and go down through a shaft that opens out into a big room with a smaller chamber behind.  This is the view from the back of the big room looking out to the open ocean with one lone diver.
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Dive site: Blue Holes, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 1/40th @ f/8, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Another shot from Jellyfish Lake.  This time with one of our very accommodating dive guides modeling.
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Snorkel site: Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake on one of the Rock Islands of Palau.  To get there, the boat drops you at the pier and you then hike over a hill to the lake.  We went twice.  The second time, early in the morning and it was very tranquil when we arrived.

I’m not sure, but the lake seemed even saltier than the ocean.

When you get to the dock in the lake after coming back down the hill, you put on your mask, fins and snorkel and jump in.  At first, it’s just a green lake.  No jellies.  Then, as you swim toward the sunny side, you see one jelly.  Then another.  Then a few more.  Then the density goes up fast.  Until finally, you feel like you’re swimming in a thick jellyfish soup.

The jellies keep swimming around, ensuring that they stay in the light.  They do this so that the algae they’re carrying can photosynthesize for them.  Over the long term, these jellies have lost their ability to sting and hunt.  Instead, they’re solar energy farmers.
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Snorkel site: Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Another shot from Alex Mustard’s Palau underwater photography workshop.

Palau’s reefs were in great condition, teeming with fish, big and small.  Small schools.  Big schools.  Lots of kinds.

Here are lots of nice, shiny barracuda.  And one interloper.

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Dive site: Sand Bar/Shark City, Palau

Shot at 1/250th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, two Sea & Sea strobes which I should have turned off.

 

I’m just back from Alex Mustard’s Palau underwater photography workshop.  And wow, it was big fun.

This is one of my favorite shots from the trip.  We saw turtles on many sites in Palau, but by far the most at Dexter’s Wall.  A very lovely site all around.  Sharks and lots of fish too.  Pretty hard corals.

This one makes me thing of those old constellation pictures.  Turtle up in the starry sky.
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Dive site: Dexter’s Wall, Palau

Shot at 1/200th at f/8 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Day 4 of the Wetpixel Whale Shark trip.  (Yes, if you’re keeping score, there’s no day 3 yet.  When I get those shots processed, I’ll do a day 3 out of sequence.)

Each day we’ve tried to get up just a little earlier to be early out to see the sharks before lots of others get there.  But maybe we should have told the sharks we were coming early.  Because despite leaving extra early this morning, we spent a while looking for sharks.  We saw lots of flying fish.  But no sharks.  But then right as I was thinking, gee, what could we do for a plan B, the radio crackled with news that someone else had spotted sharks.  So off we went for what turned out to be another great shark encounter including one super stealthy one that snuck up on me from the back.

I definitely shot more today, but wasn’t as dialed in as before.  But I did get a few I liked.

Here’s Christian Dimitrius, Emmy Award winning wildlife cinematographer and photographer, finning hard to get the shot of the whale shark. I am jealous of his free diving fins. And even more jealous of his stamina.
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1/125, f/6.3, ISO 640

The whale sharks typically carry multiple remora.  And honestly, I don’t understand why the remora hang out with the whale sharks.  I’ve always thought that remora eat up the scraps that bigger fish and sharks leave behind.  But whale sharks don’t shred up other things and leave pieces behind.  They’re filter feeders eating bonito eggs (think the size of the orange tobiko at your favorite sushi place) and other tiny stuff.  Maybe the remora are just along for the ride?

I even saw a remora in the nostril like hole behind the eye one one whale shark and on another 2 remoras on the sides of the shark’s mouth, like dimples.

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1/125, f/8, ISO 640

And here’s one getting that big mouth up to the surface to suck down the eggs floating on the top.
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1/125, f/8, ISO 640

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Big, big mouth.
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1/250, f/9, ISO 640

And here’s one wearing a sargasso barrette.
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1/320, f/8, ISO 640

Snorkel site: 20 miles offshore from Isla Mujeres, Mexico

All shot with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Day 2 of the Wetpixel Whale Shark trip.  And even better than day 1.  Sometimes less is more.  This is not one of those times.  And today there were lots more sharks.

First swim of the day. First shot.

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If you were this big and you only ate tiny little things like itty bitty fish eggs, you’d probably sail around with your mouth open all day too. Like these guys:

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Snorkel site: 20 miles offshore from Isla Mujeres, Mexico

All shot at 1/320th at f/5.6 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Whale sharks, that is.  Big fish.  Really big fish.

It’s the first day of the Wetpixel Whale Shark trip and the sharks did not disappoint.  There were some (but not a ton) of eggs in the water for the sharks to eat.  We saw a few plowing through the water, mouths agape, enjoying the bounty.

It was my first whale shark encounter and wow, it was fun.  It is also amazing how fast they swim.  They don’t look like they’re going very fast.  But it is definitely hard to keep up.  Even with my crazy long fins.  So here are a few pictures from today.  I’m hoping to be a little closer tomorrow and have better shots.

First swim of the day.  And first whale shark shot.  I really should be closer to get better color. Well, more gray anyway.  But even with the fisheye, I’m not sure how I can get close enough to get the color I want and still have the whole fish in the frame.  Did I mention that they’re big?

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This guy was keeping a careful eye on my while he had his snack.  Truer color here — you can see that he’s really gray, not bluish.  But really just the front 1/3 of the shark.

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While there weren’t so many eggs in the water, there was a lot of broken up sargasso seaweed.
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This guy made me work for it. And at the end of the day. Checked off cardio for the day.
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Snorkel site: 20 miles offshore from Isla Mujeres, Mexico

All shot at 1/200th at f/3.5 with Olympus OMD EM5, 8mm Panasonic fisheye lens in Nauticam housing and mini dome port, no strobes.

 

Apple Watch Sport

I know, I know.  You’ve already read plenty about the Apple Watch.  That’s fine.  I know I’m not the first to tell you about it.  These are my first impressions.  There are things that I really like.  And there are definitely things that confirm it as a v1.0 device.

1. Feels like iPad 1.0.

By this I mean that the Apple Watch is an interesting toe in the water of a new (ok, newish) product category.  But definitely not fully realized.  In the case of the Watch, it is so reminiscent of the original iPad.  Cool new thing.  Directionally interesting.  But clearly not the device you’re going to be happy living with in the long run.  Many of the issues/limitations are the same.  Big, boxy, heavy, under powered.  Certainly on a different scale.  But for each category, true.

To be clear, I’m not criticizing.  While “good is the enemy of great”*, great is the enemy of shipping.  As a product guy, I am a big fan of shipping.

So, for Apple Watch v2, given the design ethos of Apple, I’d expect thinner, same barely adequate battery life, more powerful/capable.  I have no inside info.  Just observing what they’ve done over generations of iPhones and iPads.

* Here we are in an Apple focused post.  You thought that quote was going to get attributed to Steve Jobs.  Nope: Voltaire.

2. Fitness tracking feels pretty inaccurate.

This is definitely not unique to the Apple Watch.  And I’m not saying that it can’t count steps correctly.

I wore a Jawbone Up for a year and found the same thing.  Maybe if I was a runner I’d think it was more on the mark.  But I’m not.  I do Pilates.  I do a little weight work.  I swim.  When all else fails, the elliptical.  The Jawbone was completely baffled by pretty much everything except the elliptical and walking the dog.  So on days when I had a hard workout at the gym it would tell me to move more.  On days when I just took the dog for a long walk, it would celebrate.  Umm, no.

The Watch came way later than the Up, Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, etc.  So there’s been time for the underlying sensors and interpretation of the data to get much better.  I think the watch is better.  But it is still far from what I’d consider accurate for what I do. Your mileage will definitely vary based on what you do.

How about adding Fitness programs for Pilates, aerobics, strength training, …?

3. Heart rate monitoring is about as accurate as other wrist based monitors.

Which is to say, kinda sorta accurate.  Get a chest strap if you want better accuracy.

4. Isn’t it supposed to be monitoring me?

Sheesh.  This is one of the most annoying “features” of the watch.  It does some amount of activity tracking all the time.  But if you want it to track your workouts, you have to remember to start the “Fitness” app.  Invariably, I remember this halfway through a walk of part of the way in on the elliptical.  Why do I have to monitor it?  Why do I have to remember?  Since it can tell there’s activity going on, how about *at least* asking me “hey, want to start a workout now?”  Or better yet, just start it and get out of the way.

Maybe I got used to the ‘always on’ tracking of Jawbone UP/Nike Fuelband/Fitbit, but it is downright weird that you have to remember to start the fitness tracking app.

5. Battery makes it trough the day!

Unlike the iPhone, the battery definitely lasts for the whole day and then some.  That is good.  But honestly, if it can’t last longer or can’t charge more quickly, you lose some of the benefit.  Sleep tracking?  Nope, it’s on the charger.  Alarm clock to wake up?  Nope, it’s on the charger.

6. It is odd that you can’t manage apps from the watch itself.

I get that the screen is small.  That browsing the app store for new apps on the watch might be impractical.  But how about at least being able to delete an app from the watch directly.  You know, by pressing and holding and pressing the X, like on an iPhone/iPad.

7. It is not waterproof.

I don’t need it to be a dive watch.  I don’t need it to figure out my decompression schedule.  But you can’t take it swimming?  Unlike say, a $14 Casio?  And honestly, a little watch app that counted and timed laps? That would be pretty nice.

8. The sport band is really nice.

Beyond being a lovely green color, it’s very comfortable.  Soft and easy to get on and off.

9. The wrist tap is better than you think.

The watch is good at notifications.  The little tap on the wrist is subtle enough that only you will know about it, but “there” enough that you’ll definitely *know* about it.  This, coupled with apps that understand subtlety is the killer app for the Watch.  So if you’re trying to stand up more during the day, the watch will remind you to do that in a pretty unintrusive way.  Ditto for drinking more water.  Or just plain working your todo list.  Paired with an app like Timeful, it is powerful.

Subtlety is a big deal, one that most app designers haven’t gotten yet.  The question shouldn’t be “how do I move my iPhone app to the watch.”  It should be how do I enable a different use pattern that is uniquely enabled by the presence on the wrist.  I think Marco Arment figured this out for Overcast after first trying to do a lot in the app.  And being frustrated by the limitations of the WatchKit development environment.

But as with many things, limitations sometimes lead you to a better design.  And apps on the watch are definitely a case of Less is More.  You want a nudge delivered at the point it would be useful.  The watch can do that.  And it can do it better than your phone buzzing in your pocket, prompting you to get it out, unlock it and interact with it.  There’s just less friction with the watch.

 So, a couple of weeks in I like the Watch.  And I expect I’ll like watch 2.o even more.