trip

Trip Report

Trip Report: FREE Diving With sharks in florida

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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.

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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.

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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!

Scott

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

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!!!!