DIVING with alizee dive @ new caledonia

2nd day and 3rd day: we went with the hotel recommendation: alizee diving

  • they pick you up at the hotel
  • their boat is modern, big and very stable
  • lifevests available and maximum occupancy on boats respected strictly (we were not able to go diving with alizee one day as they said they are fully booked, unlike amedee where it is “always free and available”)
  • they are extremely clean on the boat : spotless
  • clients are all japanese, very quiet
  • guides are divemaster, professional
  • max of 6 persons per divemaster
  • prices are cheaper, as it is only for half day trips, 2 dives
  • wreck diving was great, guide was very aware of the group

 

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alizee second deck on boat: perfect for relaxing or taking in sunshine:

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lot of space:

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brave new divers: first ever intro dives in middle of the ocean, hang on by a cord.  They do the intro breathing at the surface interval time, between the 2 dives

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after the trip: they have 2 separate area for rinsing: one with BLEACH for wet suits, one just water for cameras : first time that i have seen this. Everybody was religiously cleaning rinsing

 

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my cameras: nikon1 and my 3d camera photo set up in the background:

 

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DIVING @ new caledonia: amedee diving club

Fist day: we booked with dive trip with amedee diving: cost around 14k francs pp, expensive.

amedee is located 20 minutes away from the center of the city noumea. New caledonia is neat in a way that you can go to nice dive sites in less than 20 minutes away from downtown!

amedee is located on an island where they have the amedee light house. Supposedly, because of its location, it have been said “it is always sunny at amedee island”

the boat going there is on a zodiac: very bouncy. your behind REALLY hurts after the trip.

when we went, we were “only” 14 people on the boat. apparently the owner sometimes carries as much as 40-50 people on it small zodiac on weekends ! it is legit ? it is safe? We did not see any life vest on boards…

i am not sure how many divemasters they really have on board, but i am sure our guide was not qualified to sign our dive logs…

no nitrox available. they do introductory dives in the open ocea, (FIRST dive ever with scuba breathing right on the small zodiac)

  • it is quite convenient for a whole day dive, 2 dives trip and combine it with sight seeing trip to amedee island.
  • nice and convenient to have your surface interval on the island, for 2-3 hours! lots of time eating, and relaxing
  • they are the ONLY dive operation on the amedee island, monopoly
  • they have lot of hammocks, very comfortable to take a nap between dives
  • the food provided was good
  • equipments are in working order
  • staff were friendly,
  • mostly french speaking clients
  • you have to carry all your own equipments  to and from the boat (not used to this after diving in fancy places like maldives, wakatobi, fiji etc )
  • lots of beginners divers here.
  • 2nd dive: guide was slightly careless to dive and guide the whole group, including beginners, until air have only 20 bar left, trying to swim underwater to the boat, no safety stop done as he said we were “only” at 10 meters for the last 20 minutes

second day: we went with a japanse owned operation. Completely different atmosphere and operations

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hotel & restaurant meridien noumea, new caledonia

the hotel meridien noumea is the only 5 star hotel right on the beach in noumea. There is a big hilton 3-5 blocks away, but it is not on the beach.

meridien noumea hotel:

  • the hotel staff was friendly, efficient. they are not on island time like bora bora meridien
  • rooms are outdated, still comfy and very good prices for ocean front
  • hotel is going under renovation on the whole left wing. we stayed on the right wing so there were no noises
  • right on the beach
  • internet wifi worked well
  • food of the hotel restaurant and breakfast was very good! we mostly exclusively ate there. even the locals have special occasions celebrated there

NOU airport: picture taken with sony tx30

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meridien noumea:

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our junior upgraded suite (for free as we are spg platinum), once again, booked the cheapest rate, got the 2nd most expensive room at that property

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our big suite terrace: and view ocean front:

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the suite have 2 FULL washroom !! one on the living room and another one on the bedroom

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one of the restaurant: beach front restaurant: serves very good tuna

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meridien beach: very popular with locals and windsurfers:

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THE IN HOUSE FORMAL RESTAURANT of meridien noumea:

  • serve very good food,
  • excellent service, especially for an island and compared to “french” standard in south pacific (bora bora)
  • good prices, we ate well for less than 40usd pp at a fancy french restaurant
  • locals come here to celebrate special occasions.

 

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SYD lounge quantas, air calin business class SYD-NOU

trip planner: new caledonia

remember that if you fly business class international with quantas at SYD airport, you can check in at a dedicated private area at the end of the terminal.

It is a little like first class terminal at frankfurt : private check in, private security, and the lounge entrance is directly connected right after the security !! that is cool for just business class service

The food at air calin biz class is average, surprisingly for a french airline.

the seat of the flight air calin SYD-NOU is non lie flat, recliner comfortable for a short 3 hour flight

quantas and their partner, air calin does accept reward points booking with AVIOS. and since the distance is short, avios rewards is worth it. It cost 20000 avios plus $235 tax and fees for business class ticket one way per person. Compared to min $1000 usd pp one way.

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syd quantas lounge food
syd quantas lounge food
quantas lounge food
quantas lounge food

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air calin business class seat
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menu air calin biz class
menu air calin biz class

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food air cain biz class
food air cain biz class
food air calin biz class
food air calin biz class

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NIKON 1 fast and completely silent continuous shots & 400fps video samples, australian open

the nikon 1 series are great for taking fast continuous and completely SILENT pictures of action scene: other cameras, including my A7 is too LOUD to take 15FPS. Even my canon 7d dslr is still too loud, too slow for those action scenes.

The shutter sound on my a7 is So LOUD that i cannot take pictures during play, especially when we are sitting so close to the court. I got stares from everyone first time i tried it. Sony A7 is supposed to me mirroless like nikon 1, but the shutter sounds is even louder than a DSLR

Taken with nikon 1 J3: 30-100mm, not photoshopped , full format: click on picture to see full resolution

 

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ANOTHER advantage of nikon 1: it can take slow mo video in 400fps: sample video: click to view

slow mo video 400fps sample nikon 1

 nadal serve slow mo video

 

Diving new caledonia trip planner

We planned to go to papua new guinea for diving in february right after the australian open. But since the weather at that time is usually bad for papua new guinea, we decided at last minute to go to new caledonia.

new caledonia is about 2-3 hours flight away from sydney. So we had to fly from MEL to SYD fisrt, then spent a night at Syd because the flight does not connect until 11 am next day.

flight SYD-MEL : as we flew a few times already before with virgin in the past in Y, we had enough virgin points to book a one way business class for 27600 points, taxes included in the points reward.

New caledonia, or nouvelle caledonie , speaks french, follow french customs, and have the largest unesco world heritage protected lagoon in the world! south pacific lagoon + less tourism  = good diving expected

http://en.visitnewcaledonia.com/

you have to fly SYD to NOU airport first. NOU airport is located about 70 kms away from the main city, noumea. Once landed, transportation to city is either by bus or taxi. Taxi cost around 90 usd.

quantas and their partner, air calin does accept reward points booking with AVIOS. and since the distance is short, avios rewards is worth it. It cost 20000 avios plus $235 tax and fees for business class ticket one way per person. Compared to min $1000 usd pp one way.

The route is mostly leisure travelers, so it is super easy to book, lots of availability.  If you book through BRitish airways avios website, enter nou as destination, and even if the avios website does not show you the name of the airport, ignore it and click search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

how to create artificial 3d (underwater) pictures with only one camera

there is one way of creating artificial 3d photos underwater, or overwater, with only one camera, one lenses:

  • take one picture, not too close, not too far. subject Ideal distance is min 1 meter to 10.
  • try to take picture of something big, non moving, like a big boulder of coral
  • try not to take picture of fish or moving subjects when shooting with only one lense (very hard to get proper parallax shots with only one lense)
  • after the first shot, keep all the settings of the camera the same (keep settings in manual mode)
  • then move HORIZONTALLY away slightly, then take another picture of the same subject
  • why? vertical deviations are not easy for the eyes or the software to compensate. your eye muscles can compensate to a certain degree shifts in horizontal deviations, but vertical are a lot harder for the eye muscles.
  • for the 2nd shot: you will want to keep a slight “convergence” : try to slightly shift the camera in an imaginary arc compared to the first shot. Your eyes are more capable of converging than diverging view.
  • try to keep the main subject centered on both shots
  • the idea is to shoot the same subject with a slight horizontal deviation difference between the both 2 shot
  • And of course, underwater shots will be extremely harder to just shoot a horizontal deviation, without introducing a vertical deviation.
  • then at home. with a software called stereo photo maker, you can then combine both picture into one 3d  http://stereo.jpn.org/eng/stphmkr/
  • if the subject is further, more horizontal deviation between the 2 shot is required for greater 3d effect.
  • it is artificial, so results vary a lot. YMWV

i have not tried it underwater, as i have a true 3d camera, but if you have two pictures of the same subject, whale, mantas, etc, you can try to create a 3d image for fun. a “true 3d” camera function on the same principle, 2 shot with a slight different view horizontally. It is a lot easier as the shots are taken with fixed deviation, and at the same time, same settings, synchronized. The problem with the current 3 d camera photo is: they ahve problem converging, or changing easily the convergence settings. They can change the artificial axial difference settings, but the convergence and focus at something close up is harder to adjust in current 3d cameras.

MACROS shots:

  • with 2d macro shot underwater, pro photographers tries to blur the background, or use a black background to keep the subject focused and your brain focused on the subject. less distractions
  • In 3 d world, your brain unconsciously  blur the peripheral details or background details  when you try to focus on something very close. The issue with the 3d camera for macros is that everything is still clear, from far to close, center to periphery. hopefully the future generation of 3d camera will allow more creative defocusing
  • in 3d movies that you see in cinemas, for close shots, they try to use similar technique: keep the main subject focused on both right and left eye, in the center. While the periphery or further background is blurred.
  • a good 3d picture does not have too much vertical deviation between the 2 shot, the 2 view. Shooting 3D macros subjects of pygmy seahorse resting on a background (sea fans) is extremely hard, as with most view, you will introduce a vertical deviation.
  • Unless you can position yourself to directly view the macro subject  in a relative DIRECT view where there is not much sea fans introducing a vertical deviation, and where the main focus subject is in the center, not much distracting background around it, like in the next picture:

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if you can have a macro view like the one above, then 3d macro is possible. The idea is to make the main subject look like a 3d “island ” and pop out, closer to you then the rest of the background.

 

the picture below is a picture where 3d macro is harder : too much background, foregoround,  and oblique sea fans introducing vertical deviations

 

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3D photos of mantas ray underwater, new caledonia

here is a sample of manta ray in 3d!

click to download the mpo 3d files here

shot in new caledonia. The weather was good, but the water was very murky.

This demonstrate the difficulty of shooting in 3d, even in ambiant light with no flash. The water have to be perfectly clear, if not 3d camera will focus on everything, including the backscatters.

Normally in 2d shots, when the water is murky, you can try to come closer, or shoot macro. Not in 3d, and not with mantas! The water have to be perfectly clear.

melbourne restaurants and dessert !!

in melbourne, since we are always at the tennis, with no time for a real fine dining, we always ate at our favorite spots: for 2013:

near the hotel:

 

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and of course, in melbourne they have these amazing taiwan dessert: you have to try. It cools you down. costs around 5-8 dollars

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mango with ice cream on top of ice

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park hyatt melbourne from outside, front view

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park hyatt lounge food and drinks:

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another good dessert place:

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next to the malaysian restaurant killiney:

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oh yes, history and odds:

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