Archive for May, 2008

Oak Park night dive (#261, 7.3m , 61′)

May 28, 2008

little critter on night dive at oak park

Crab on nightdive at Oak Park Yesterday night I went on another night dive at Oak park. The conditions at Pete’s point were too harsh, we therefore went to good old Oaky. Initially we were five divers (amongst them a second Swiss diver – unbelievable, but he is the first Swiss I met in Sydney in almost 1.5 years…), but Matt and me were carrying cameras and we left the group after a few minutes of diving (or say the group left us…). There was a lot of small stuff around, and also a few cuttle fish, an octopus and some still awake fish… No pictures to prove that though, most of them look like taken in a snow storm. Backscattering. Am looking forward to the arrival of the strobe, it has left Japan yesterday night 🙂

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Mal wider es paar zile fĂŒr die daheblibene…

May 26, 2008

Guete tag mal wider!
Isch ewigkeite hĂ€r sit ig mi z letschte mal gmĂ€ldet ha ir Schwiz…tröi nachem motto “weme nĂŒd vo ihm ghört de geits ihm guet” 😉 Sit mim letschte masse-mail id Schwiz isch es halbs jahr vergange, u i ha doch einiges underno sit denn. E grobi zĂ€mefassig gĂ€be wie ging mini föteli (Flickr föteli), u vor churzem hani ou dĂ€ blog ufgsetzt u gibe mir itz mĂŒeh dĂ€ einigermasse ufem loufende z halte – jedefalls sötte d itrĂ€g hĂŒfiger erschine als ire 6-monet frequĂ€nz…
Aber vore agfange… im DezĂ€mber bini fĂŒr guet zwe wuche ir Schwiz gsi (bewisföteli) u ha einigi vo öich Ă€ndlech mal wider gĂ€genĂŒber gha (sorry evi, ha das föteli grad wider entdeckt bim dĂŒreluege…)!

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Lake Eckersley, Heathcote national park

May 26, 2008

After the dive on Sunday morning we went for a nice little walk in Heathcote national park. The track from Heathcote leads first trough the woods and then on a fire trail along the water pipe. The last few hundred meters to Lake Eckersley lead again along a smaller trail. The National Park and Wildlife Service distributes permits for two camp sites just next to the lake. I am definitely going to sleep there one night! The lake is also nicely refreshing for a swim in summer…

Reflections on Lake Eckersley

First underwater experience with Canon G9 and Ikelite housing

May 26, 2008

My underwater photography to date was done with a point and shoot Sony DSC-P200. I used to set the film speed to ISO100, the exposure correction to about -0.7eV, focus to center and metering mode to center weighed average. This worked quite well, and the internal flash did a reasonable job in the Ikelite housing for macro photography and shots at a distance of up to about 1.5m (Examples, photo dates before 24 May 2008, (Edit: I put together a sample picture gallery)).
The Canon G9 offers much more possibilities. Browsing through underwater photo forums the suggested settings are slow film speed and high f stop. For the first few test shots on Saturday I preset the film speed to ISO80 and took pictures with aperture priority setting the aperture to f/8.0 and forcing the internal flash. (more…)

Leap to the Steps drift dive (#260, 21.3m, 51′)

May 26, 2008

On Sunday morning I woke up in time and decided to take the chance and to go for the second dive of the weekend. The Leap in Kurnell is one of my favourite dive sites in the region. The way to the entry point is a bit strenuous, following stairs cut in the rock, down the cliffs. To enter the water we usually jump from a rock platform (the leap…), depending on the tides the height of the jump can reach about 2m. There is no way back, the shortest exit I know is indeed the swim to the Steps, the exit point of the dive. So better do your buddy check carefully…

The Leap entry pointnudibranch at the leap

After a short swim away from the rocks we droped down and dove perpendicular to the cliff edge until we reached the sandy bottom at around 20m. We decided to immediately turn to the left – a short swim to the right there is a little wall with a nice sponge garden. We stayed down at around 20m for 10 minutes, following the boulders and the sandy bottom covered with some kelp. For once we did not spot any weedy seadragons, and no cuttle fish either. Exceptional. I don’t think we kept our eyes open wide enough…
We followed the boulders a bit further ascending slowly. There were a few gropers around and I also got the chance to try some macro shots with the new camera setup. As expected there is a shadow in the lower right corner, inflicted by the lens port partially blocking the internal flash of the camera. This justifies the purchase of an external flash (sometimes it is so easy to convince myself of buying some gadgets…)
We took the usual exit at the Steps – the waves help to get on a rock platform, and with still rather low tide present when we came out of the water it was even more convenient than usually… A nice dive without highlights, but hey, the reasonable visibility and the feeling of simply floating along the wall are good enough for me to go back anytime!

Comments on the camera setup can be found here.

Oak Park (#259, 9.5m, 60′)

May 26, 2008

Finally. The day had come to test the underwater housing for my new camera. Bulletproof it looks, and massive too… I was a bit nervous, even though I had done some preliminary testing in a bucket of water. But what would happen with increased pressures? After all the housing is designed to withhold pressures for dives up to 60m…
Last Saturday I jumped in together with Gypsy and her three open water students. A perfect occasion since I could just float along and care about my camera. Apart from seeing if the housing was really waterproof I also wanted to find out what I can get out of the Canon G9 under water and if the housing is limiting in any sense (I plan to purchase an external strobe in the next few days anyway, but I wanted to verify reports in some internet forums about shades in pictures from the lens port blocking the internal camera flash).

The dive along the main wall of Oak park was nice and easy, the visibility quite good (>10m). The drawback of the good viz was the fact that one could see all the other divers in the water, and there were many of them! We dived 20 minutes out, not quite reaching the second reef. On the way back I took it a bit slower, looking out for opportunities for macro shots on the way back, unsuccessfully though. The usual marine live was around without anything special. The students were amazed by the friendly blue gropers though.
All in all a nice relaxing dive assuring me that the housing is doing fine and giving me some comfort with handling this “monster” – it is far nicer to deal with underwater…
Comments on the camera setup can be found here.

Sunrise on a cloudy morning

May 22, 2008


Sunrise on a cloudy morning, originally uploaded by Roland Bircher.

This is one of my favourite photos of my recent early morning trip to Cronulla beach I have described a few days ago. I like the version with ratio 2:3 even better, but I tend to fill my flickr page with photos in the original (digicam) proportions.

Shark Island circumvention (#258, 11.6m, 58′)

May 18, 2008

Shark Island lies about 100m off a small beach in Cronulla. It is well known for the annual international bodyboard competition (well, it is not well known to me, I will have to check out the competition this year!). “Famous bodyboarding spot” and “good diving location” usually don’t go very well together, and it is no surprise that this dive spot can be visited only very rarely.
This morning the conditions were perfect. The island was nicely visible at low tide and there was virtually no surf due to the W to NW wind coming from the main land. We swam most of the way to the island on the surface to save some air and dropped down on the west side of the island to about 3m. Not surprisingly it looked very similar to Windy Point and Oak Park. We swam around the island clockwise. A channel with sandy bottom and reef boulders on each side led us to a depth of about 12m. We swam in easterly direction for a surprising amount of time. After 20 minutes we decided to cut over the reef and dive towards the south. The reef became more shallow, and on the SE corner of the island we were at about 3-4m depth, which didn’t change much on the east side. After an hour we had reached the beach again. The north side of the island is definitely the most exciting part about this dive. All in all it was great to jump in at a location different from the usual suspects…
The marine life is similar to Oak Park: Weedy sea dragons, small rays, schools of yellowtail, nudibranchs, blue gropers. Very likely there were also hidden cuttle fish and octopus around…

Sunrise in Cronulla

May 16, 2008

I am getting tired now… This morning I got up at 5.45, had a short brekky and drove to Cronulla beach. Again. Already on Sunday I had the same weird idea. Seeing the sunrise over the sea. And taking picutures of it. After talking about it for more than a year I have finally done it. Twice. Today’s excursion had a second reason apart from enjoying the beauty of nature. My friend Amparo is leaving the country for good on Tuesday, and I want to give her a picture of Cronulla beach for her bookshelf. Memories. I hope she is not going to read this before Tuesday…

Arriving at the esplanade in Cronulla a bit after 6am I was amazed by the amount of people being awake at that time of the day. Very awake. Running along the beach or in the sand, walking their dogs, having coffee… I went on the beach and enjoyed watching the surfers in the first morning light. It was drizzling at times, but I could not be bothered, it was simply pleasant to be outside. The sun sent her first light through layers of clouds around 6.40, and the sight was gorgeous indeed. On Sunday the sky had been almost clear from clouds and the colours were great indeed. Today the additional scattering due to the clouds and sections with light and shadow produced an even more interesting painting on the sky. I took a lot of pictures and will have find the good ones tonight or tomorrow. Once done I will put them on Flickr, here is a first example:

Night dive at Oak Park (#257, 8.1m, 49′)

May 13, 2008

Finally a night dive again! People are getting lazy and I hear more and more that it is apparently too cold for diving now…come on, the water temperature is 18 degrees. Spanda agreed with me and we headed off to Oak Park in Cronulla. The sea was nicely calm, no wind, low tide. Everything perfect. Except for the fact that my spare torch is out of order at the moment and that my buddy’s torch fell to the ground and didn’t want to emit any light anymore. The divemasters showing how not to do it… we ended up diving with one torch. After all the moon was quite bright tonight!

From the entry point south of the pool we headed south-east over the kelp, hitting a small wall and following it for 25 minutes majorly in north-east and east direction. This ledge is off the main wall of Oak Park. We saw heaps of hunting catfish, and under an overhang we discovered a giant cuttle. Awesome! I wish I had been able to get a good shot of it, but the camera flash produced way too much backscattering in the rather murky water. We were compensated with a well hidden hermit crab showing her face on the way back:

After 49 minutes we stepped out of the water again. I don’t know why I had waited for so long since my last night dive, it is just incredibly relaxing to hit the water after work and float a bit in the dark!