AdventureNorth AmericaScuba

August 1 – Isla Mujeres

Perfect Conditions
The ocean was like glass today. The water was completely still and smooth. When we arrived at the group we discovered it was dispersed more than yesterday, but hundreds of sharks swam around that dispersed, soup-like water.

A still ocean

E, napping in his ironic t-shirt


Sterling, napping

Nathalie and Alexis – just enjoying.

Heaps of whale sharks

Whale Shark Morning

Happy E

E gave me his camera for shooting today. He claims that there are plenty of photography contests and “with this camera you can definitely win a trip to Indonesia”. So I spent part of the day with his 5D Mark II in Seacam housing with a fisheye lens.

E underwater (we are practicing my focus capabilities)

Big belly

Whhhooooooaaaaaaaa! Close call.

Getting artsy with the fisheye lens and a split

Though we are always the first boat on the water in the mornings, the snorkling boats from Cancun and Isla Mujeres move in quickly and crowd the group of sharks as well as us. Today I was in the second group of snorkelers so by the time I got in the water the sharks had been completely split by lifevest-clad tourists. There were more tourists than sharks in some places, so not many opportunities for the Indosesia-winning photo on the first snorkel.

I did, however, have some guy in a green Brazilian wetsuit swim over and ask me to “model with the sharks” for him. That was before he saw Eric’s camera – the size of it intimidated him.

Eventually the Lilly M moved to outside of the whale shark group where the ocean was tourist-free. On this next snorkel we had hours of whale sharks all to ourselves so I took 16GB (yes, GIGAbites) of photos.

Self portrait

This guy actually moved his fin far to the right so he wouldn’t hit me with it. Whale sharks are very considerate.

Whale sharks and fishies

These two little fishies followed me all around the blue. Also, Eric’s camera can make even my fins look pretty

Though the whale sharks are very aware of their surroundings and of snorkelers (like me) and move every so slightly so they miss me by 6-12 inches. But every once in a while we have a minor collision where neither of us moves quite far enough. Well, minor for the shark. Slightly jarring for me. This next few series of pictures shows a “wallop” in action:

Wallop Part 1: Whale shark approaches head-on.

Wallop Part 2: Whale sharks moves, but slightly too late. So I kick up and out. It moves slowly down and over.

Wallop Part 3: We miss each other by inches, but then comes the powerful tail – which whacks me in the shoulder.

Silent Ocean
At the end of the day I spent some quiet time on the top deck of the boat, surrounded by whale sharks and the silence of the ocean, interrupted only by the sounds of water breaking each time a whale shark nose cleared the surface. Well, silence until some annoying tourists in a luxury speedboat arrived, jumped in shrieking and immediately grabbed on to a whale shark. I wanted to yell at them, but within 5 minutes their own yelling and squealing caused the sharks to cut a wide berth around them.

Alex and the whale shark

Sterling, putting E’s gyro (stabilizer) to work

Me (and Rojelio’s shoes) and an ocean of whale sharks

Whale sharks

Post-Whale-Shark Routine
After we return to the hotel, Eric and I make a beeline to the pool for a quick dunk and a lie around on the lounge chairs. Then we head back to room to shower and download all the pictures we took.

E’s camera gear

Camera suitcases

Eric is downloading from five different cameras now (a still, 2 portable 3Ds and 2 full-sized 3Ds) so he takes a while. On top of this he had to copy my 16GB of photos onto a scandisk so I could edit the pictures down to a manageable size.

I’d lose my mind too if I have to do all that downloading
My homework for the evening was to do this before the end of the night because he needed the card back – he’s running short on memory these days. “As a reward, I’ll give you that video of the botella from yesterday.” Hah. Here’s my reward:

Mexican Dinner
For dinner that night we took Alex and Nathalie to the same restaurant from the night before. It’s slightly funny that I’m traveling with a group of photographers but I’m the only one who brought a camera. I got up to take a group photo and couldn’t figure out the right light setting, so they briefly tried to give me advice until they finally realized everyone’s lives would be easier if I just set it to Auto.

Nathalie, Alex, and Eric – waiting for the rest of the group in the mosquito factory hotel lobby

Golf cart limo

Wolcott and Sterling

E, making faces in the rearview mirror

Dinner crew

Late night in room #1
So picture this. It’s 11PM. E and Iare typing away on our respective MacBooks. E is transferring my now-edited-down-to-1GB photo choices from RAW to JPEG and also to smaller web versions. (translated in English: making to smaller sized photos for me) He had originally delivered the files to me with a prefix of “hc” on each filename, which I edited down and gave back to him for the resizing.

Eric: “Why do all these filenames have a ‘Y’ in front of them?”
Me: “That was my way of noting, ‘Yes. Keep this file.’ Y=Yes.”
Eric: “Do you want me to over-write the Y?”
Me: *shrugging* “Sure. Oh wait. I added on descriptors onto the end of the filenames and I don’t want those over-written. So don’t worry about it.”
Eric: “I can just do a find and replace on “Yhc” and make it “hc”.”
Me: “You really don’t have to. It’s not a big deal.”
Eric: “It won’t take any time.”
I looked at him quizzically, not fully comprehending why he’d want to spend time on this activity when he has a gazillion gigabytes of 3D video to edit.
Me: “I don’t really care what the filenames are.”
Eric: “Why would you want the “Y” there? That makes no sense. You’re ‘hc’ not ‘Yhc’. There’s no reason in the world for a ‘Y’ to be a prefix to these filenames.”
Me: *laughing at the ridiculousness of the conversation*
Eric: “This is the equivalent of you leaving your Quicken accounts off by a penny every week. Sure it’s just a penny. But think about how that one penny a week adds up over time.”
Me: “Ack! Stop! Stop! Replace the file names!!!!”

I now have three versions of my photos: full resolution, screen resolution, and web versions. All correctly prefixed with an “hc”. Oh and the web versions are watermarked with my name. Like this: