Trip Report

Trip Report

Trip Report: FREE Diving With sharks in florida


Thank you so much for checking out my blog and following me. Occasionally you’ll find me posting about travels that my wife and I take for photography purposes.

Today we are talking underwater photography. Sharks to be specific.

i have always loved the water, the ocean, and especially sharks. They are the apex predators of the ocean and arguably one of the most important species in that eco system. One of my bucket list items has been to cage dive with sharks and get some photos of these amazing animals.

A couple of months ago my wife and I decided to do a quick trip to Florida in February. Partly to get away for some photos, but also to escape the cold weather a bit and act as a recharge to get us to spring.

As I was planning the trip I decided to check out what kind of diving options there were in the area. While there are many options throughout Florida I found the little company in Jupiter, FL that offered shark cage diving. I was on it!!! Trip booked!

Fast forward to mid February and we are getting in the boat to head out. The weather is perfect, mid 70s and bright blue skies with a few clouds.

We headed out bouncing the swells for quite a few miles, I think we were close to 5 miles out. During the ride out our guide was telling us that Jupiter is different than anywhere on the east coast of Florida because the underwater shelf that drops off drastically is the closest to the coastline. It’s easier to get out to it and that is ideal for diving. That’s where we were headed because we were going for Bull Sharks and they like to stay along that ridge and come up, where more shallow water Lemons would be found closer to the coast.

We also got some good “training” on swimming with sharks on the way out. Wait, what? Where does the cage come into play. We found out very quickly that the cage was staying on the boat and we were free diving with the sharks. Okay, was hoping to start in the cage and then venture out, but it looks like I was going to speed that up. 😊 I’m game.

The guide started telling us about the sharks and what to expect. He said that sharks are not looking to kill everything in the water. He compared them to dogs, where they are more inquisitive to find out what we are. He said that the Bull sharks would stay deep and occasionally come up to grab the bait in the water and maybe check us out. Whereas the Lemon sharks stay shallow and do a lot more “bumping” into everything to find out what it is. We were instructed to not reach out and touch the sharks but if we need to guide them around us then feel free to lightly push them to the side.

Finally, we arrived. All wetsuits were on, masks and snorkels ready to go, and fins handed out. The guide takes a fin and smacks the water really really hard to make a loud SNAP. Then the chum and the bait hit the water. We were told that the smacking sound is loud and the sharks will come to check out what is going on, where they find the bait and stay. I am sure the sharks have realized some reward coming with that sound as well because within 5 minutes we had 7 or 8 Bull sharks below us. Time to hit the water.


Obviously I am about taking photos, so I had two setups going in the water with me.

  1. I had my backup camera, my sony a6300 ready to go in an underwater housing. I was shooting in manual mode and had set my settings to what I thought was a good start. I knew there would be motion, but probably not too fast. 1/400 of a second for shutter speed should be fine, but I could adjust. For my aperture, I wanted to make sure that I had a deep enough depth of field to have most things in focus. I went with f8 to start with. Now ISO was a bit tougher as I had not seen the lighting conditions. I knew I may want to put some shots in a larger format, so a I wanted to keep it as low as possible. I decided to start with 400 ISO.

  2. My secondary camera, which I was using as a backup as well, was my goPro Hero Black 7. This was mounted on my mask and I decided to do 4K video the entire time because I probably could get still shots from it if needed.

It’s time for me to hit the water. I was ready. GoPro started, Sony attached to wrist, away I go jumping in with sharks. I hit the water and immediately my underwater housing for my Sony starts alerting me to a water leak. Wasting no time, I come up and turn back to the boat. I unstrap the camera from my wrist and hand it to my wife. I figured I acted fast enough that it was hopefully okay, but I had sharks to swim with. It was now GoPro only. I turned away from the boat and headed out to sea. Sharks were everywhere and they were beautiful.

For the next 30 minutes I swam with Bull and Lemon sharks. Some as close as 1 foot to me. I can guarantee you that it was an amazing experience and not one time did I feel in danger or that they wanted to bite me. These creatures are sleek and stealthy, disappearing in the deep and then suddenly another one appearing somewhere else. Absolutely unbelievable to witness first hand.


I ended up getting 26 minutes of 4K video and happily got some shots for stills. I was so happy that we went out in the afternoon because they sun was directly at my back as I swam. This caused this amazing looking in the photos from my shadow and the sun rays.

After it was all said and done I made a few mistakes. I should have jumped in the water and then had them hand me my camera (there was only a drop or two in the housing, camera is fine). Secondly, I need to learn which angle is better for my GoPro on my mask. I found that i had it tilted down a bit so when I looked at something it actually was shooting lower than i thought. My field of view on the camera was wide enough so i was fine, but I can do better. This was also my first time diving with this mask and a GoPro, so i learn something ever time out. I will do it again, so i will be back to get even better shots.

I hope you enjoy the video and shots, and enjoyed reading this post. Please feel free to share with your friends and follow me on social media. Please understand that sharks are not enemies to us. They are very important to the earth’s oceans and are some of the most amazing animals on it. I know that Hollywood likes to make them out to be massive killers like in the movies Jaws and The Meg. They paint sharks in a horribly incorrect light, it’s truly not how they are or how they work. Hopefully this post will help some people understand that.

Have a great day, and thanks for reading!


Blog Post, Trip Report

Total Eclipse 2017 from KY

Solar Eclipse 2017 by Scott Turnmeyer

Solar Eclipse 2017 by Scott Turnmeyer

The entire country knew that there would be a solar eclipse on Aug. 21. When I first found out, all that I could think about was getting shots of totality, especially since I never had seen anything but a partial before. It was time to research. 


As I looked at all of the information, it was clear that the best place to be was Western Kentucky, IF the weather was good. Hopkinsville, KY to be exact, the spot with the longest amount of totality, a whopping 2 min and 40 seconds.  


As luck would have it, Pam has family in Owensboro, KY, roughly 80 miles north of the most sought after spot on the planet for this event. We had been wanting to visit anyway, so a gracious invite from family had our plans set. Arrive Saturday, enjoy family. Head down Monday for the eclipse, back up to Owensboro, then the 9.5 hour trek back to Virginia on Tuesday. Done! 


Trip down was easy enough as a 9.5 hour drive could be. We arrived morning, and not long after I was already researching and planning for Monday. I spent quite a bit of Saturday, and most of Sunday checking weather forecasts, cloud patterns, crowd predictions, and so much more. I knew Hopkinsville was going to get inundated with people, the local news was estimating near 150,000, so we really didn't want to be in the middle of that.  So I wanted to find a place as near to the center line as possible so that we'd have more time in totality for photos, but to the north so it would be less distance back through traffic to Owensboro, but not too crowded. We'll finally late Sunday afternoon the decision was made to hit quiet little Crofton, KY, about 10 miles north of Hopkinsville. There were having an event in their park, bathroom facilities, food for only $20. Okay, sign us up. 

We left Owensboro Monday morning around 6amexpecting our 1hr drive to take about 3x that. Surprisingly it didn't. There was little to no traffic, so apparently everyone was already there or coming down later.

Just arrived!! 

Just arrived!! 

We we showed up as one of the first cars there, gave our name for the reservation, paid our fee and found a nice spot in the middle of their field to setup shop. We setup our 10x10 canopy right at the back of the car, then we relaxed some as we had 4 hours until the moon would begin making its way across the face of the sun.  


With about an hour left until the eclipse started, I began setting up the equipment. I had (3) cameras, (2) telephoto lenses, telescope and a solar filter. I had my Canon 7D with my 70-200 2.8, Pam’s Sony a5000 usin my Meade ETX 125 as a 1900mm lens, and my Sony a6300 locked onto my Canon 100-400mm 3.5-5.6. The solar filter would work on either of my telephoto lenses so I started on the 100-400 as my test shots the day before showed that 400mm was pretty good, even giving up the detail of sunspots. So let’s start there. I had all (3) on tripods. 

Setup and Ready!  

Setup and Ready!  

2017 Solar Eclipse Photo 4

Our weather that day was absolutely perfect. A mostly cloudless sky, about 90 degrees for a high but you didn’t feel it because there was a nice easy breeze all day keeping it tolerable.  


As 11:30am CT came around you could see the energy in the field begin to rise. People were getting their Eclipse glasses on, cameras set, etc. the countdown to 11:56am had started. 


2017 Solar Eclipse Photo 3

It was a great crowd though. We had plenty of room and people on both sides of us were super nice. Everyone was in a great mood.   

I knew that besides the shot of the corona during totality, there were 2 others specific photos that I wanted to go after.  The first was the difficult to get Diamond Ring, and the second was a progression composite of the entire event, from the point the moon first starts across the sun, through totality and all the way to the moon coming off of the sun. 

The diamond ring was going to be tough, but I knew that would have to be shot without a solar filter at just the right moment, so I had time to prepare for that. 

The progression composite I decided to go with the Sony a6300 with the 100-400 Canon lens. Canon lens you ask? Yes, I have always shot Canon but moved into the Sony arena last year with my favorite little tool the Metabonz adapter. It allows me to shoot Canon glass on my Sony. LOVE it. Has one little drawback with autofocus tracking, but I am confident that might be fixed in a firmware update soon. Everything else is right on point. 

Eclipse starting as the moon begins to cover the sun. 

Eclipse starting as the moon begins to cover the sun. 

So I begin by getting a bracket of exposures right as the moon started, then set my alarm on my Apple Watch to remind me in 5 minutes. I would do the same thing every 5 minutes throughout the entire event to give me the shots for the composite. Of course, I'm shooting at the sun before and after totality, so I was using a solar filter on the 100-300mm lens. 

As the moon crossed the sun I was shooting on a tripod and popped out the Sony LCD do I didn't have to crank my neck to look through the viewfinder. Awesome option there. I was shooting at ISO 100, 400mm, f/5.6 and 1/1000 shutter speed. I decided to bracket my shots every 5 minutes by adjusting the shutter speed only, so I would take 1 at 1/1000, 1 at 1/750, 1 at 1/500 and 1 at 1/1500. I ended up liking the 1/1000 the best. 

As the time to totality decreased, I'd say things go really interesting at the point where the sun was a smaller crescent than you would see from the moon. Things were really close then. I now moved on to getting a shot every 15 seconds, and was using my self timer on the Sony to make sure there was no camera shake. I should have any as my shutter speeds were high enough, but I knew that to get the diamond ring I needed to take off the solar filter and then the shutter speeds was going to have to come down significantly. Needed to be prepared. 

Unfortunately as you read this, I can tell you all day long about how amazing totality is, but you will never truly get it unless you see it. It's different than anything you've ever seen before, and watching it online is NOTHING compared to the real thing. 

I'm busy snapping away as the moon begins to get to the last bit of the sun. The energy in the field where we were was growing exponentially. I looked up at the sun and even though a small amount was showing you still could not look at it without turning away. Amazing. At this point I decided it was time to take the solar filter off because I wanted that diamond ring. As soon as I took the filter off I had to speed up the camera as now it was getting a TON of light. My shutter speeds quickly went to 1/3000 to compensate. This is another benefit of the Sony a6300. Being able to adjust your settings and actually see what you are going to get before you snap the photo is so valuable. Especially when seconds count, as I would soon find out. 

Minutes away from totality

Minutes away from totality

I was sitting at 1/3000 because I was still getting the last curvature of the sun and these shots were part of the composite. I watched closely in the LCD as I shot waiting for the moment to drop my shutter speed for the diamond ring. Why would I do that? Well the diamond ring is the last little sliver of light from the sun and you are starting to see the corona around the moon. So if you have your exposure spot on then you will get a ring of corona and a superbright shot of that last sliver of the sun. Looks like a diamond ring. 

The Diamond Ring. Notice the red on the right side of the corona. 

The Diamond Ring. Notice the red on the right side of the corona. 

When I felt like the time was right I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/1500 and snapped as quickly as I could. It worked. Shot 1 of three that I was going for was accomplished. 

Now totality was seconds away. The energy in the field was crazy. It was getting very dark outside. Street lights were coming on, and then it happened. The sun was finally fully covered and the entire crowd all gasped at one time as the corona light up like someone hit a switch from around the moon. There was yelling and cheering, crickets were chirping. My wife and daughter could not believe their eyes, and neither could I. 

Once totality started I had planned on going back and forth between my Sony with the 100-400 and the Sony a5000 on my Meade telescope. Well that didn't happen. I made the judgement call to stick with the 100-400 through the entire thing as it was happening fast and this was working just fine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I pulled back on the lens some so I could get more field of view. I didn't know how much corona I'd get, and I knew there were a few stars showing up nearby that I'd love to get in a shot or two. I pulled back from 400mm to 260mm and dropped the shutter speed down to 1/90. YES, that is right. I went from 1/1500 with just a speck of the sun showing to 1/90 in about 2 seconds. It got that dark. When I did, what I saw in the LCD made me emotional. There it was, a 100% total eclipse and the corona was glowing around it. Shot 2 is now accomplished. 

People were still yelling and cheering, my wife was smiling and just amazed, my daughter jumped on her phone and started taking a Youtube-ish selfie video of herself in the experience, I'll see if I can add that that to this blog. She did really well with it. 

I'm now shooting totality and still varying my shutter speeds some to get different aspects of the event. Shots with 1/90 shutter speed were not showing the brightness of the corona as much, and this allowed me to actually seen in the LCD, and the photos, the red on the surface of the sun showing around the moon. It was like fire. AMAZING. When I wanted to bright corona to return I'd drop the shutter speed down to 1/15 and kept varying through to make sure I took a gammit of shots. I can tell you right now that 2min and 33seconds isn't long at all. LOL

So about mid way through I stopped shooting. I looked up instead of at my LCD. Why? Simple. I have taken a ton of event photos and this one I was not going to pass up experiencing it as well as photographing it. It felt amazing. I was awe inspiring. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life. It was so strong, so powerful. It put life into a bit more perspective, and showed how small we really are. I was EXTREMELY emotional, and seeing the reactions of my wife and daughter made it even more so. 

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

But now it was time to get back to business as I knew the sun would be showing back up in a few seconds. If didn't let me down as suddenly the world got lighter again. I basically got the other diamond ring shot then put the filter back on the camera and followed my exact sequence into totality but in reverse order. 

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Photo 2

As people packed up and headed out, we waited the next hour and a half to get those shots every 5 minutes for my composite. Finally it was time and the last little bit of the moon was about to move off of the sun. I should have the shots to make Shot 3 an accomplishment. I've got 300 photos on the card and will transfer them to my laptop (so I will have the photos in 2 places) as soon as I am back. 

We left, turned on Waze to head back to Owensboro, and drove the next hour and 20 minutes back talking about the experience the entire time. Oh, yes, the interstate was a parking lot, but its why I use Waze. It kept routing us around the traffic and we were back in no time. No traffic for us :) 

That evening we had a great dinner, and packed up for our trip home the next morning. 

This trip was absolutely amazing. In my 45 years I had never seen a live total eclipse, and I kick myself for not making that happen. We are now hooked,  and are planning on hitting as many as possible. Not just for photos, but more for the experience, the joy, the adrenaline, the emotion, the ENERGY. Please do yourself a favor, make the opportunity to see one with people you love. Don't skimp out and not see a 100% total. There is another one in 7 years here in the US. See it. I guarantee you we will. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. The photos you see here, and others, will be released as an Eclipse17 collection in the Fine Art this weekend. I'll be running a special on the entire collection for that first weekend. I hope you like what you see. 


Shot 1 - The Diamond Ring - Accomplished

Shot 1 - The Diamond Ring - Accomplished

Shot 2 - Totality - Accomplished

Shot 2 - Totality - Accomplished

Shot 3 - Composite of the entire eclipse progression - Accomplished

Shot 3 - Composite of the entire eclipse progression - Accomplished

Trip Report

Southwest Trip - Day 3 (Sedona to Page,AZ)

by Scott Turnmeyer

by Scott Turnmeyer

Day 3 started out early in the morning in Sedona. No sunrise photos today as we had to be in Page, AZ at 10am to check in for our Photo Tour into Upper Antelope Canyon, and that is a bucket list item that would not be missed. 😄 


So after a quick packup of the vehicle, locking ourselves out of our room and caffeine fill ups, we were off. The trek from Sedona to Page was astounding. We drove through massive canyons, high elevations, desert straight stretches that went on for miles. We went from sand to evergreen trees, with Watch for Elk signs along the road, back to desert. Along the way, you are surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful Navajo tribal reservation. Truly a drive that I would want to do many more times, but next time not under a time pressure so that we could stop and enjoy it like we did from Page to Zion, watch for that blog post coming up. 


We arrived in Page, AZ, and checked in for our tour with 45min to spare. Things got a little tense on the way there because apparently the time zone line is super close so our phones were bouncing back and forth with us being early, then late. But when we got there all was well.  


Antelope Canyon should be on anybody's list, especially if you are a photography. The slot Canyon is divided into the upper and lower canyons and each is different. Upper Antelope is the one most visited by tourists such, and you cannot get into it without a guide. The Canyon is on reservation land, so the tour groups that go into there are usually run by Native Americans, which I thought was great because you learned history while seeing and experiencing in a different point of view. We chose Chief Tsosie -Antelope  Slot Canyon Tours (highly recommend and we gave a 5 star review on Facebook).


Sands of Time by Pam Turnmeyer

Sands of Time by Pam Turnmeyer

Chief Tsosie tours has two Upper Antelope Canyon tours, the standard group tour that lasts 55 minutes, or the highly recommended guided photography tour, which lasts 2 hours. The difference is night and day once you get in there. The main tour you stay in line and are always around people (this is a busy place people!!). The photography tour is just for that, photography. You have to have a tripod and a camera that you can perform manual adjustments on. No green automatic box here people. BTW, I teach how to get off of automatic mode, check out my classes page. It's pricier, but worth every penny. Your guide sets you up for spots, blocks people from your shot for up to 2 minutes at a time and is invaluable!! There is no way we could have gotten these shots without George's help, the best guide for sure. 


While led the main tour has multiple offerings throughout the day, the photography tour has 2 options. 10:30am or 1:00pm. We chose the 10:30am because we wanted this magic light beams that shoot through the canyon. Again, George was amazing here. He knew the timings of each one and had us in the right spots at the right times, simply amazing! The shots speak for themselves.  

by Scott Turnmeyer

by Scott Turnmeyer


I was was shooting on manual mode, cloudy white balance. ISO100, aperture ranging from f5 - f8, and then the shutter varying for the exposure that we wanted. You MUST use your tripod if you want to get anything like this. You will want to use a wide angle lens as it is close quarters in there.


We had such a great time, and checking that box off the bucket list was amazing. But in the end, George looked at us and said, "You know the light beams are cool, but the real color and magic happens later in the afternoon during the 1pm tour." So we went back the next day! Read about that in the Day 4 blog post.

The Heart by Scott Turnmeyer

The Heart by Scott Turnmeyer

After we we finished with Antelope Canyon we checked into our hotel, freshened up, and started to get the lay of the land. Page, AZ isn't thought of as a touristy destination, but you can tell it is growing, and we found a ton to do. Hiking, photography, Lake Powell and so much more is there.  


That evening we had sunset photos at the iconic Horseshoe Bend planned out. We've all seen this beautiful Bend of the Colorado River as it makes its way into the Grand Canyon. Yet another check off our bucket list on this trip. 


Horseshoe Bend by Scott Turnmeyer

Horseshoe Bend by Scott Turnmeyer

Horseshoe Bend is an easy find. There is a huge parking lot for it off the main road, you simply cannot miss it. There is a hike, I think All Trails said it was .5 mile, but it is in deep sand and up and down a hill. It's not bad going to it but a little more difficult coming back. But don't worry, we saw all ages and health conditions doing it, and I will tell you it is so worth it. It's so worth it that we made that trek 3 times on our trip taking photos.  


When you you get to the end of the trail you are literally standing at the lip of one of the most beautiful things that I have ever laid my eyes on. So majestic, Mother Nature at work, showing us how small and insignificant we really are. If your jaw doesn't drop at first sight then you aren't human.  


Watch for my fully detailed blog post for shooting in Antelope Canyon, coming I the next few days.  

Also, you will see most of these photos released as fine art edition prints in the very near future. Watch for them because each one will have a huge sale on their release weekend. 




Trip Report

Sunset in the Sonoran Desert

Our trip began yesterday with a day trip ATVing through the Sonoran Desert. Most photos were taken during the midday sun so we'll see what we get from those, but here are a couple.  


Sonoran Sunset


We were ending our ATV adventure as the sun began to set. Pulled off for a second and literally shot this through the front of the ATV.  


More to come one as we hit Sedona next.  

Trip Report

Prepping for our trip

In the next couple of weeks I'll finally get to visit some of the iconic Southwestern spots to work on my Fine Art library. Stay tuned, because each night there will be a full trip report. It is going to be a blast. 

We'll be hitting

Sedona, AZ

Page, AZ

Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ

Zion National Park

Valley of the Fire

That's just the top spots. We'll be doing helicopter work, sunrises, sunsets, oh my. 

Cannot wait!!!!