Hello Harbor Seal.

At the end of the third dive as I was headed back to the boat I saw something dart through the kelp ahead of me. Rounding a corner of one of the rock channels I saw a harbor seal laying in the sand. He looked up, saw me and darted away before I could get a picture. Excited because I haven’t seen a harbor seal under the water while diving as of yet, I continued on to the boat. As I neared the anchor chain, macro lens put away and camera set as wide as possible, just in case, I came across him again! He was slithering along the bottom, nose in the sand looking for something to dig up and eat I expect. Either not hearing me or just ignoring my presence he continued along before darting away again after a few minutes.

Surprisingly, he kept coming back! As one point he swam over and settled into the sand right in front of me, watching me fumble with my camera, hoping to  get it into position and snap a decent shot. He never settled quite long enough for me to take a couple shots, so it was either you got it or you don’t type of situation. I was excited about this shot, though in order to have the background exposed properly I had the shutter speed set too slow to capture the seal crisply. The strobe froze him in place, but the longer shutter speed allowed him to blur after the strobe had fired. Next time, I ought to open up the aperture so that I can stop down the shutter speed in hopes of still having a well exposed background and a nice crisp critter!

One last try, before needing to give up and head back to the boat, but I guess I got too close (seriously was worried as I inched nearer and nearer that he might try to bite my camera or myself, but he just sat there watching me) and my flash was a little over powerful, he even had to squint!

Overall I found it incredible how inquisitive this guy was, and how huge! The seals always seem smaller compared to the sea lions, and they are a little bit, but they are still pretty huge! I got to sit and watch this guy cruise around the kelp and dig in the sand. I watched him chase a fish nearly catching it. It was incredible. Just wish the viz had been a little clearer, and the surge a little less so that there would be less sand and particles floating around in the water!

Glowing Goby.

This picture is my favorite from the dives. I managed to get up close and personal with a black eyed goby and for once he didn’t dart away. Practicing with just zooming in to allow a closer shot without getting too close to a flighty subject, I was able to sneak up to a group of gobies and snap a few pictures. While most of them were either a little too late or not quite in focus or well composed, this one stood out to me. The little goby rested on a weedy covered rock and kept moving around, but not far, as I approached. I was able to capture this shot just after he touched down, and truthfully I lucked out a bit with the framing. He’s not amputated at all (phew!) and his face and eyes are nice and crisp in focus with the shallow depth of field dropping off along his body. What I particularly like, is how my strobe illuminated him… it looks like he just swallowed a lightning bug and is being lit up from the inside out! One of the pluses for my new camera is that with a high pixel resolution I’m able to actually crop pictures and still maintain a good quality image. So, I also cropped this shot down to just the goby’s head, and it remained crisp and looks cool, really bringing out that inner illumination that I like. Enjoy!

Off we go.

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I’m finally getting my act together, and just in the nick of time. Facebook friends of mine will know that I recently acquired a nifty little dive logbook stamp so that I can stamp my students and other dive buddies log books after diving…its got all the important info on it!

Then just yesterday, my new business cards came in the mail. If I really want to make a go with this blog and work more with my photography, I figured having cards is a great way to start, so I can pass of the info to people I meet, and they’ll have my blog/website address nice and handy. In addition, they’re great to give to my students, so that they will have my info and also will hopefully visit my blog!

Now that I’m all set and official, its off to the Scuba Show in Long Beach to see what’s new, talk to a variety of different diving folks, and perhaps pick up a few accessories for my camera. No, I’m not allowed to buy a new strobe today. Hope to see people there!!

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Ps. I hope everything come out properly, it my first time uploading via wordpress on my mobile as we drive down to the show!!

It Came Back.

You all remember about two months ago, when I posted the sad sad loss of my old Aqualung mask, after a fateful attempt at beach diving on a day that we should have just gone and gotten a tea. Well, against all odds (or maybe not since Vet’s is a popular site frequented by many divers) it came back.

I just so happened to be relaxed at a friends house watching an episode of Dexter when I randomly checked my email and saw a friend had posted on my wall asking about my missing mask. The post went something like… Hey, did you lose a mask, because we found one tonight at Vets, aqualung with the initial KED on the side…blue eco strap…and so forth. Immediately I shouted for joy, (no joke…ask someone who was there…) and replied that it sounded like it was indeed mine!

So, long story short… I got my mask back. We were reunited last week at an Eco meeting, and all is now right in the world. Of course, I’ve already purchased a new mask… and honestly the Mares Liquid Skin mask fits nicely, and the silicone skirt is so light and soft it feels like there is hardly anything on my face. I won’t be returning the old faithful Aqualung to service; it now will sit deservedly on my shelf, a reminder of the good ‘ol days (along with my old BCD, computer and reg).

Why did I care so much about this mask? Well simply because it was a gift. My Uncle Doug really helped me with my goal of getting more diving under my belt back in 2006 when I was accepted into an internship with Dolphin Dreams Images in Hawaii. He purchased the above mentioned BCD, gave me his regulators and computer for the trip, bought me fins, booties and a snorkel and gifted me that old mask of his. It always fit great, and while not necessarily the most stylish, got the job done. Since suffering a hip injury which kept him out of the water, and because I had been diving more and more out here in California he let me keep the regs. I’ve now retired the BCD, replaced the computer and the regulator, and fins, leaving just the mask, his old gauges and octo as a reminder of his contribution to my diving lifestyle. Soon I will replace the gauges and one day the octopus, but I’ll now always have the mask as a little reminder of him. Perhaps one day his hip will be better and he’ll join me in the kelp forest. :o)

So thanks to the anonymous diver who recovered and left my mask hanging at the showers, thanks to Amanda for recognizing the Eco strap and picking it up!

Scubapalooza!

Its been a long time coming, but here it is, the Catalina, Casino Point Scubapalooza recap! On June 19-20th Richard and I got up at the crack of dawn (literally, it was still dark when I pulled out of my apartment complex) to catch the Long Beach Catalina Express to catch the 6:15AM boat. I literally mean catch. Thanks to poor google directions and being about half awake I managed to miss two exits, get turned around, end up almost back in San Pedro, making it onto the boat with less than 5 minutes to spare.

We got to Avalon around 8:00am, had some delicious breakfast at Joes diner, checked into the hotel then went off in search of Scuba Luv to pick up a pair of Nitrox tanks. We had decided to dive nitrox that weekend, because our plan was to get as many dives in as possible. Nitrox would allow us to dive more, because we’d be absorbing less nitrogen (Why its Great!). We discovered just how long the walk around the harbor from the boat to Casino Point can really seem!

The weather was sunny and warm, and the water is calm. I discovered how to use the stairs at low tide, where you can’t easily wade into the water, because they end before you get wet! A gentle fall on your side splashes you into the ocean without hitting the bottom and tearing up the grasses and reef! We dove to the right, we dove to the left, we dove down into the depths finding the glass bottom boat, the swim platform, both the Jacques Cousteau and La Cruzado Plaques! In the middle we took a long lunch break with some delicious pasta (funny how hungry you get while diving!) Then it was back in the water, where the diving was great, the viz was good, not the best though, but still good. As night  fell we relaxed watching the sun set before donning our gear one last time for a night dive.

A warm shower, and delicious fancy meal and a few drinks, we headed back to the hotel where Richard promptly fell asleep, snoring from the other side of the room. I watched part of a movie on my computer then it was off to dreamland myself. The next morning it was new tanks, we didn’t feel like paying the extra cash for nitrox and decided since it was day two and we weren’t doing as many dives, we’d just do air…hell, we could sleep on the boat on the way home. In retrospect, I would have dove nitrox… it was amazing just how tired you are after 5 dives! It’d definitely worth the extra cash. Diving was good again and we explored further on each side of the park, revisiting several parts we had liked the day before. We ended a little early so we could rinse off, change and pack up the gear. A large root beer float was a nice ending to the day before piling back onto the Catalina Express and reality on the mainland.

Check out our adventure!

DIVEMASTER!

Well hot damn, PADI sure was quick. I think I only posted yesterday (after Eco processed my application on Tuesday) that I was now an official PADI Divemaster. Then today, lo and behold in my mailbox there it was. My official DM card! All black and sexy, reminding everyone that I’m truely a professional diver. I love the sound of that! Professional! Awesome. Just thought I’d share. Now off to go show it to all my triathlon friends at the bar tonight. Ha!

Scuba Show, Super Cool.

Last Saturday I headed down to Long Beach with a group of scuba fanatic friends to take in all the glories of the annual Scuba Show. This event highlights all the different gear, clothing, accessories, travel opportunities and toys that are out in the Scuba world. Anything from cute little Scuba teddy bears to high tech rebreathers; from travel as close as Ventura to as far as Fiji. It was one giant room packed with more diving related paraphernalia than any one person should be expected to handle. Always wanting to be prepared, my friends and I arrived just after it opened at 10am. Parking was a pain but once inside it was great. We kept the game plan simple, start at one end of the show and work our way up and down the rows until we reached the other side.

This was easier said than done. We began pouring over the different gear, looking at new BCD designs, masks with silicone linings so soft it forms to your face so well (making me think my awesome slightly retro mask is in need of an upgrade), and custom wetsuits (had some great features but sadly the design left a lot to be desired). We cruised past travel booth after travel booth, entering trip raffles (sadly I’ve received no “you’re a winner” calls or emails yet) and ogling the bright and beautiful tropical locales, someday… someday. We all took a turn spinning the “wheel of fortune” for the Hermosa Inn and each won between 25-50% off a 2 night stay. We took our sweet time admiring the strobes and nice cameras at the first of several photography booths, both Carolyn and Lawrence eyeing new lights but hesitant to drop the dough right away. I managed to keep my wallet safely in my purse with the exception of a key not so necessary items. I bought a DAN mat, which is a big woven mat that works great for beach diving to lay next to your car and keep your gear from getting all dirty and gross from the parking lot. I also picked up one of those previously mentioned Scuba Teddy-Bears. C’mon, it was $4 and SOOOOO cute.

After what seemed like mere minutes we realized that we had been submerged in the show for nearly 3 hours and our stomachs were rumbling. We took a short surface interval at the Yard House with some much need food and a beer to refuel and tackle the remaining half of the show. Continuing around we looked at the great art of Wyland who was there and had just painted a wicked looking great white shark piece. We tried on some high tech full face masks that included a communications system so you could talk with your buddy. Not only were they techy and neat looking, but they came in a variety of colors so you could keep the gear color coordination going!

Caryoln and I eyed a great looking 1-2mm skin suit by Fourth Element that looked warm, comfortable and fashionable…always helpful in the world of thick wetsuits and clunky gear! We got sucked in by probably what I feel was the coolest accessory at the show, the Dive Caddy. This is no gear bag. As the rep called it, its more of a “gear wrap”. This wrap is specially designed to take a light packers 3-4 days worth of clothes, a wetsuit (3mm), BCD, regs, fins, mask, snorkel,  toiletries, etc and package it perfectly for carry-on airline travel. No more having to check your gear and hope it arrives and arrives intact. It was genius! I wanted one right then and there. Of course then my brain clicked in and said hey Kelli! You’re not traveling anywhere this year, and maybe not even next year, why do you need this thing? Of course the answer was, I don’t… but its so cool. So being a smart little shopper, I added it to my mental must have list for the day when I’m jet-setting around the world on Scuba adventures.

Rounding off the show were a few more gear booths including Atomic where, because Carolyn and Lawrence knew the rep we got a sneak peek at their new computer, the Cobalt, which looks crazy amazing. We stopped by Titan Dive gear where Randy and Web were showing off the amazing rebreather, then we hit up several more photography booths where Carolyn and Lawrence both broke down and got the second strobe and video light they each wanted. Some how we managed to be at the show the entire day, not leaving the convention center until after 5:00PM. I was exhausted, but overall it was a very fun, educating and exciting day!