Saturday, January 5, 2013

Grove iPhone 5 Case is a Work of Art

It has been a really long time since I have been active here and one of my resolutions for the year is to change that. Though my first post of the year is not about photography, I felt the need to share a short product review for this new case that I just can't stop looking at, since I pulled it out of the box this morning. 

Grove iPhone 5 bamboo case
This is not just any iPhone case. No. This is a work of art... and the smooth finish feels soooo good in my hands!

The Grove iPhone 5 bamboo case is made by a small start-up in Portland, Oregon. The company launched their first cases in 2010, with little fanfare, but have quickly grown with the uniqueness and quality of their product. Each of the skillfully designed iPhone 5 cases are handcrafted and made of all natural materials. They are milled out of a solid block of bamboo, then paired with a plant fiber composite interior for added strength. The finish is luxuriously smooth. You can choose to customize the case with laser engraved artwork from a large selection of designs provided by Grove, or for a little extra, you can design your own artwork to be engraved to the back of the case. You can also have custom monogramming, engraved to the sides of the case or lower portion of the back, for a small fee. 

Fine details such as speaker/mic holes and ports for headphone and Lightning charger cable.

For my case, I chose the PangeaSeed design offered by Grove. A portion of the sale from this case goes to the PangeaSeed conservation group, towards raising awareness for the protection of sharks. Given my love for the ocean and sharks, this was an added bonus. Plus the obvious... the beautiful awesomeness!

Intricate laser engraved artwork.

Given the detailed and laborious process of machining and finishing these cases, these Grove cases are not cheap. If you are just looking for functionality and affordability, there are other cases that may better serve your needs. However, if you want to make a statement, turn some heads, all while supporting a small US business, who's passion shows in their product, this case will do just that. If you plan to order one of these cases, be prepared to wait! With the high demand, the wait for these cases has been up to 10-14 weeks. But I assure you... the wait is certainly worth it! 

Carefully packed to avoid shipping damage.

Besides iPhone cases, Grove also makes cases for iPads and leather notebook covers. For more information, you can visit the Grove website.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Art Imitates Life... with a little help from Photoshop

One of my favorite things is diving at night. The mystery of the ocean is intensified when the only thing you can see is what is illuminated by the limited throw of your dive light. It forces you to narrow your focus and to observe marine life with renewed interest and intensity. Colors pop in the bright white light that you project onto the reef and its creatures. The reef at night brings out a whole host of different creatures, many predatory in nature, who use the dark cover of night to ambush their prey. Night diving during a full moon can be particularly interesting, as many reef creatures use the tides to their advantage in timing their reproductive behavior.

I recall one particular night dive, when the conditions were just right. It was just around a full moon and the the diving conditions were optimal, with crystal clear water and calm surface conditions. Just off the reef was a shallow sandy bottom in about 20 or 30 feet depth. I rested on the sand and looked up in wonder as the light of the moon shimmered down into the ocean and danced above me and onto the reef. Dives like these can only be described as magical. That dive was many years ago, but it inspired the image I am currently using as the background on my website.

The image was created completely in Photoshop. I started with a solid black background, then used the radial gradient tool to created the blue water on the surface. Then I used the angle gradient tool, set to noise to create the rays of light streaming down into the water. I then used the radial gradient set to reverse and from solid to transparent to created a black layer on the bottom, to fade the rays out as they stream down. The ripples on the surface were created using the filter tool. First I used the cloud filter, then plastic wrap and scaled it down to simulate the ripples on the ocean surface. Finally I added lens flare and painted in a little more light, for the moon.

I generally do not like to manipulate my photos in Photoshop, but it is still pretty cool what you can create!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

June OCUPS Photo Contest. "Reproduction"

Somehow I had this written, but slipped through the cracks before being posted, so a little untimely, but I wanted to share, as shooting interesting marine life behavior is a highlight of underwater photography for me.

One of these interesting behaviors was featured in this past months photo contest theme for the Orange County Underwater Photographic Society meeting, which was "reproduction". Many photos were entered showing behavior such as mating, egg laying, egg carrying, spawning, etc. I was fortunate to have won second place in the advanced shooter category for this image of a nudibranch, Chromodoris willani, laying a ribbon of eggs. The photo was taken in Puerto Galera, Philippines. 

Nikon D90, 60mm Nikkor Micro Lens, Sea & Sea YS110a Strobes. ISO 200, 1/200 sec, f/18.

...AND I won first place for this image of a Ring-tailed Cardinalfish, Apogon aureus. As I'd mentioned in a previous post, these male cardinalfish hold their brood in their mouths until the fry are ready to hatch. This image was taken in about 60 feet of water, within the remains of a ship at the Sebang Wrecks in Puerto Galera. We did a dive on a wreck where I observed this behavior, but was unable to get close enough to get a decent shot with my 60mm macro lens, so when we returned the next day, I was prepared with my 105mm macro lens to get this shot. 

Nikon D90, 105mm Nikkor Micro Lens, Sea & Sea YS110a Strobes. ISO 200, 1/100 sec, f/16. 

Details of how I got this shot and some natural history of this behavior can be found at the Underwater Photography Guide.    

Monday, February 21, 2011

Underwater Photos from the Philippines

I have finally posted the photos from my recent trip to Anilao and Puerto Galera on the site. The homepage will showcase about 40 of my favorite shots on the slideshow for the next several weeks. Please take a look in the Philippines Gallery to view the complete set of photos. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Sex in the Philippines

As I finish sorting and editing photos from my recent trip to the Philippines to post to the website, I wanted to mention that sex tourism is alive and well in the Philippines. Now I can only speak from observation, but it appeared that a lot of creatures in the ocean were indulging, during our trip! So if traveling to tropical destinations to witness and photograph reproductive behavior underwater is appealing to you, perhaps a trip to the Indo-Pacific in the days leading up to and just following the full moon can reward you with some rare opportunities. Here are a few photos of reproductive behavior that we witnessed in Anilao and Puerto Galera. Happy Valentines Day! :)

A pair of Blue Swimming Crabs, Portunus pelagicus, mating.

Zebra Crab, Zebrida adamsii, in Toxic Urchin. You can see the clutch of pink eggs, held under the mouth and over the gills.

A very pregnant Giant Frogfish, Antennarius commersoni.

Orange Anemonefish, Amphiprion sandaracinos, with nest of eggs.

Nudibranch, Hypselodoris apolegma, starting to lay a yellow ribbon of eggs.

Male Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura breviperula, with a full pouch of eggs.

Another nudibranch, Chromodoris willani, laying eggs.

Male Ringtailed Cardinalfish, Apogon aureus, with a brood of eggs in it's mouth.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Underwater Photography Guide to Photographing Mouthbrooders

Male Ringtailed Cardinalfish with eggs in its mouth.
Check out my article on understanding behavior of mouthbrooders, like the Ringtailed Cardinalfish and tips for how to photograph this behavior. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Emperor Shrimp Photo

Emperor Shrimp, Periclimenes imperator
It's the second meeting of the year and I am excited to have my second 1st place win for this image of an Emperor Shrimp, Periclimenes imperator, taken on my recent trip to Anilao Philippines, during a night dive at the Anilao Pier. This rarely seen shrimp is usually found hitching a ride on the backs of sea cucumbers or large nudibranchs.

More photos from our incredible trip to the Philippines to be posted in the coming weeks!