Thursday, December 17, 2009

NEW Content Blog

I've started a new content-driven blog that kind of expands on this one.
Check out: I hope you enjoy this latest endeavor. Best, Tim

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Banda Sea Crossing completed!!

I was gone pretty much all of November as we first went to Komodo in late October and then on to Western Papua crossing through Flores, Alor, Banda Sea and Misool/Raja Ampat before landing in Sorong. It was a wonderful trip filled with village visits, dives to virtually uncharted sunken atolls, exploratory dives, some big fish and a wonderful crew aboard the new MSY Damai.

See the short list of images here:

It was a great adventure with some very nice people and a look at one of the world's richest coral realms.


We have a 2010, 2011, and 2012 trip slated for this ship:



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Komodo & Rinca Wonderful on Damai

We are now headed to western Papua on the MSY Damai and just finished 11 nights in Komodo National Park and its environs. Here's some trip pics.

Click here:

We are now heading out on a 15-night trip on the spacious and VERY customer oriented MSY Damai. Can't say enough about this great new ship.

Stay tuned. Will be back Nov 22 with hopefully more great pics.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Time in Tonga 2009

As promised, here's a look at our weeks with the humpbacks in Tonga for 2009. We had some great interactions with mother & calf, a family and one very active calf on our last day.

Click here:

Tonga Humpbacks by TIM ROCK

Model Yoko Higashide had her first whale experience and loved the baby whale swims. The folks at Vavau Villa were more than generous. The Sailing Safaris people did their best to get us in the water with the whales. We managed to live through a quake and tsunami warning. The market had great fresh produce. The cultural show in Tonga Tapu featured superb local food and entertainment. In all, it was a great place to become one with the sea.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sharks and other big stufff

Well, we just spent a week with the BAD Boys... Beqa Adenture Divers, that is.

On the way to Tonga we decided to see the REAL shark dive of the Pacific in Pacific Harbour, Fiji.

My buddy Mike Neumann did not disappoint. His amazing (and amazingly nice and funny) crew brought on the sharks big time. Plus, we had a squillion giant trevally, a giant grouper, large morays, beautiful caves and swim-throughs and plenty more.

'Twas tres cool.

Have a look:

Fiji Sharks

For us Micronesian types who are looking forward to Continental's new Fiji flights in December, this was a real enticement to get back down again for more action.

AND, they said it's quiet now as far as sharks go! Imagine 50+ Bull Sahrks in February-March!!!

Mind boggling!


Tim of the Deep

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back from Down Under

Well, I'm back from the Land Down Under and Aussie hospitality and the amazing Cairns/Queensland scenery really made it a special, albeit too short, of a trip. In the time our group of journalists was there, we took a historic train into the Kuranda hills, stopped at a wildlife zoo to have lunch with the largest African lion pride in captivity, took a Skyrail over the rain forest, visited The Tanks for some wonderful Aboriginal dances and Torres islander music, went on a hot air balloon ride, saw the regions largest saltwater crocodile at Hartley's, attended the Cairns Festival for fireworks and a parade, spent a day snorkeling and diving the Great Barrier Reef, spent the night in trendy Palm Cove north of Cairns, had a progressive dinner with food from the Barbie, had breakfast with the birds at Port Douglas, explored the special Daintree Rain Forest and had dinner at Angsana Resort. And that was just the first day! Just kidding. But we did squeeze this into roughly 4 days. And there was still lots more to do. Sleep was not a consideration!

Great little trip with many thanks to the folks at Continental Airlines and Tropical North Queensland. Here's a few shots above. More to come in the next few days.
Best, Timbo

For more photos of Tim's Travels, search his Photoshelter site:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review of the AD90 Aquatica housing

Aquatica AD90 Review Into the Deep with HD and RAW
Story and Photos by Tim Rock

I’m sure many of you reacted as I did when the Nikon D90 was first announced and the news was this DSLR included HD video. Being an old TV news guy, I thought the opportunity to play with HD was a real bonus. Plus, this camera had a lot of bang for the buck. The sensor in the D90 is about as good as it gets for this class of camera at this time. It is small and a bit light but with a power grip, it adds just enough weight and bulk and feels really good above the water. I’ve used it on assignments and the playback window is large and colorful, so you can tell at a glance if you have a nice shot. So when the housing arrived from Aquatica, I was happy to see it was also small, compact and light. Mine has a shiny, spackled black finish and looks pretty cool.

The camera fits the housing like a glove and it has a lot of buttons. This means virtually every function is accessible underwater. That means roughly 40 buttons, knobs, bulkheads and other appendages poke out from the housing body.
Like most cameras nowadays, you don’t need 80% of the functions available. But its nice to know should a situation present itself and you have sufficiently memorized the manual, you can do just anything you want while cavorting with the turtles and fishies. There’s even an editing function so you can kill deco time by working on your show. Read the section in the accompanying Aquatica that says “Controls in Detail” if you’re not sure what button does what to what.
All of the Aquatica ports work on this housing and there is a lens port and gear chart that comes with the manual or you can ask your Aquatica dealer just what you need for your lens of choice. This chart is also found on My favorite is the Tokina 10-17mm wide angle zoom lens. Even though the chart suggests a modest extension ring, using the 8” dome the lens does focus sharp and clear without it. The macro shots and fish in this review were shot with a Sigma 50mm Macro lens. Also my favorite as I can shoot anything from shark and diver portraits all way down to Christmas tree worms and pygmy seahorses.

There is a new AD90 housing function called a port lock. I overlooked this little gem about three dives into my Philippines trip and the results weren’t pretty or dry. Don’t ask. Read about it and use it properly and the port now clicks into place and cannot be budged. Accurately, its called the Port Release Mechanism Button. There is a long section about it that I adroitly managed to overlook.

The quick release tray is small and allows you to change batteries now without taking the tray off the camera. You still have to take it out of the housing, but that’s a snap as its goes in and out on two posts so the camera always stays perfectly in place. The hotshoe wire is also longer so you can quickly change cards and batteries by just sliding the tray out a bit, do your work and slide it back in. Hotshoe stays connected.
I shoot everything in Manual mode but this camera has iTTL capabilities. This is really good news for macro enthusiasts who like to use this setting. It is usually quite good to excellent for close-up exposures. Wide angle can let in a bit more light and fool the camera sometimes. But many macro guys swear by iTTL. So now if you want it, you got it.

My first series of shots along the South Airport reefs at Tubbataha were a bit of a surprise. They seemed overexposed. Then I remembered the default ISO for this camera is 200. I was used to 100 in virtually every other DSLR I had ever used. So this meant faster shutter speeds and higher F-stops. There is a way to get around this using the Lo-1 setting, which can make highlights more critical. But, this setting also has greater dynamic range (a very good thing) and less noise than ISO 200. Basically, the lower the ISO setting means the lower the noise and the higher the dynamic range will be.
This is because below the lowest numbered ISO, the raw data is shifted toward the right; so there is an increased possibility of clipping highlights. But the color and overall photo is strong and vibrant. But I have been using the default ISO 200 most of the time and am getting used to the greater depth-of-field and other pluses that using more light can bring. It especially helps with fast moving objects like dolphins where you can crank up the shutter speed for natural light.

The housing has a large window equal to that of the D90 so reviewing is a real pleasure. The size allows you to get into smaller spaces and close for CFWA shots. With strobes attached, the weight is still fine. Bigger housings can give you photographer arm (or neck) at the end of the dive. But the fatigue factor is low with this.
So how about the video? Well, Nikon didn’t design this aspect very well quite frankly. Even when you thumb through the D90 manual, you’ll be hard pressed to find out much about this popular and groundbreaking DSLR function. At this writing, the Nikon D300s was out with a better system and Canon’s higher end EOS 5D Mark II is also available. But for us beer and burger guys, hey, it is HD. There are also lower video settings that give longer recording time and don’t chew up so much card space. Although this HD setting doesn’t really chew up as much as you’d think. It looks pretty good and sounds fine (its mono). And the beauty of this is that you can pretty quickly get used to the few hoops Nikon wants you to jump through as far as focus goes and go right from shooting stills into video mode with a couple of quick button pushes.

The housing is small enough so this can all be done with your right thumb.
And if the action is fast and furious and would make a great still image, you can shoot stills right in the middle of video recording. You can also use the LIVE VIEW setting, which activates the electronic SLR function and makes the review screen live. This is how you record video but it's a help in still composition as well. Now hand holding this little housing and keeping a nice steady shot while swimming isn’t so bad. Even shooting a wide video shot is pretty easy if you keep yourself weighted down and your elbows tucked into your chest. For viewing, in shallower water you could use some sort of lens hood, especially with a strong sun at your back. But down past 20 feet, there’s not much of a problem. Colorwise, a Magic Filter is helpful if video is the main goal of the dive. I suspect of you wanted, you could add video lights to the equation but you’d have to turn them on and off manually. Its best used as a still camera with the video there if the situation presents itself in my short diving experience with this unit.

For macro, the D90 focusing again represents a challenge. For really small stuff, you have to pre-focus and then change to video mode. The camera then retains that focus and depth-of-field. So to really have a frustrating dive, I shot video of really small or really active marine life in Guam’s Tumon Bay Marine Preserve with a flat port and a Sigma 50mm macro lens.
I quickly found that a small, weighted tripod would have helped me greatly. Even when I had the focus pretty well mastered, camera movement was distracting. Even holding it solid to the sand showed a bit of sway. I was able to manage enough shots for cutaway length images (a good 2-3 seconds). But longer macro video sequences require a bit of planning. I also tried carrying a clip-on 2-pound weight and this did help quite a bit with handheld video macro and close-ups. But a sacrificial tripod would be needed for any sort of real production. This is not fault of the housing or camera, of course. But smaller stuff will require some planning.

In all, I’ve really been having fun with this housing, which is what it’s all about. It’s a light, rugged, professional quality housing that you expect from Aquatica and it will open new horizons for the creative demons in you waiting to explode on the silver screen… er, RGB monitor.

Successful innovations by Nikon and Aquatica make this combination a great little tool for the amateur and pro.

See sample images with this article and video on YouTube of both the video and stills.



Tim Rock is a professional photojournalist and Lonely Planet contract author based in Guam, Micronesia.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still Images from Aquatica AD90

OK, I am a YouTube addict now I guess. Here's the second thing I did with the new housing and iMovie. Featured are Still Images with the Aquatica AD90 Housing (click here):

It was shot in Tubbataha, Philippines, and Piti and Tumon, Guam. I will post a review of my experiences with the housing on Wetpixel and UWP soon. Enjoy.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

T-shirts Now Available!!!

Due to popular demand from my dog and others, I have now added a series of T-shirts and other products that you really need. They're on my CafePress site.

Go here for a look. We'll be adding new sections and darker colors soon.

We like the service and quality of the products and especially the nifty gift wrapping you can ask for.

AND, we are also selling some art image T-shirts from my favorite dive model, artist Yoko Higashide.

Check these designs as well.

Yoko's watercolor art is inspired from her many years as a guide in Palau and is both cute and very accurate.

Enjoy and thanks for looking.

Friday, July 24, 2009

YouTube Foray

OK, here's my first foray into YouTube with this short video shot here in Guam while testing the Aquatica D90 (AD90) underwater housing. It is fun to switch to video mode and very easy with the new, compact housing the Aquatica makes.

Here's the video:

Stay tuned for more.

We sell this housing and other Aquatica equipment, by the way. Check us for prices and availability.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Back and busy writing

I'm now back from the Philippines a few pounds heavier and have to report the diving was wonderful.

This links to some of the trip's images.

I'm ready to go back but have to finish a bit of editing and writing.



Monday, June 1, 2009

Exploring the Philippines

For the last 2 weeks and for about 3 more I will be exploring the Philippines as part of an assignment for Lonely Planet to update the Diving and Snorkeling Gudie to the Philippines.
For week we went to the Sulu Sea aboard the Expedition Fleet's Stella Maris. We enjoyed glassy seas. This is a World Heritage reserve and is producing
beautiful seasonal days and exciting dives.

We also visited Donsol, which is known for its whale sharks. But we also dived Manta Bowl and enjoyed the Donsol fiesta.

We're now exploring the reefs of Anilao at Outrigger and then we move on to Malapascua.

The Philippines has lot of variety. We're trying to sample it all for the upcoming updated dive guide due out January 1, 2010.

Keep posted for more PI exploits.


Tim of the Deep

Sunday, May 10, 2009

BONAIRE, A Caribbean Marine Park Now Avaliable!!

OK, now both of the Caribbean books are done. Here's Bonaire. It's a wonderful place where the reefs surrounding the ENTIRE island are a marine park.

Caribbean Marine Park

If you've been there, you know its for people who are dive crazy. You see people dive at 3 a.m. An amazing place.


Tim of the Deep

Now Available: Grand Cayman

OK, As promised, here's a look at Grand Cayman.

Coral, Critters and...

The next book in the works is Bonaire, the diver's island.



Friday, May 8, 2009

Photoshelter Up and Pumping

Over the past couple of months I have been trying to get images into my new Photoshelter site and have about 6,000 now up and in Galleries:

This is a great site as it caters to pro photo buyers but also anyone who might want to purchase a small print, mug, etc.

Have a look and pass the word if you like what you see.

Also, I am just finishing up two new books. One is Grand Cayman Island.

The other is BONAIRE.

These beautiful Caribbean destinations will run 160 and 200 pages. Should be available in a couple of days.



Monday, April 13, 2009

Shark Allies

A Hawaii-based save our sharks organization has gotten its website up and running:

Hawaii Shark Encounters and Stefanie Brendl is the main driving force behind this organization. She has a real passion for what she does and education is the main ingredient in getting their message across.

Please support them as best you can. The sharks of the world need all the help they can get.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

THINKTANK is still doing this!!!

The HOT DEAL Continues for Camera Buffs:

We sell Aquatica, Ikelite and Think Tank photo equipment. All of this gear is great. I use Ikelite strobes and cords with Aquatica housings, arms and ports. I haul it all around (as well as my MAC Powerbook) with Think Tank products. This is gear designed by professional photographers for photographers. Photographers own the company and use their own gear. Its nothing but the best. Its strong, lightweight and really protects the camera and computer gear.
Think Tank has offered us a deal. They will give one of their quality free bags for every purchase over $49.50. So get something you need that's functional and get one of Think Tank's free products when you enter this code:
Go to this link:
Double Blue Think Tank Deal
Shop with our code and get the free deal.
Enter: AP-207.
Happy Shopping.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just back from Yap

A Diving Guide to M...

I am just back from some amazing manta dives in Yap. Will post photos soon. Manta Ray Hotel was looking good and Mnuw pub was great fun.

I showed the dive staff this new Outer Islands of Yap diving guide and got some input and proper spelling. This book is being done for the Yap Visitor's Bureau.
Also, we had some manta visits in Miil Channel. There were 3-5 rays a day cleaning. The males were trying to get shiggy with the females as this is that time of year, but they didn't seem interested in anything but a nice cleaning. Sorry guys.
Here are a couple of shots.

Also, there was one NEW Manta! I am lobbying for it to be named Rocky!
And the Manta Ray Taro Leaf spa is now open and its a wonderful spot. There are three massage tables and masseuses so there is never any waiting.
Yap is great.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Book on Ogasawara, Japan

Into the Bonin Blue

We've got a new book with lots of Bonin Island scenery and plenty of dolphins. Its a beautiful place.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blurb Bookstore!!!

We now have a BLURB online book store where you can order nearly a dozen titles.

Find books on Palau, Yap, Guam, Micronesia, Tonga, Bimini, Ogasawara (Japan), Yap's Outer Islands, Africa's east coast above and below South Africa and Mozambique, Tim's Islands Worldwide compilation and many more.

This brings all the photo books into one spot.

See my published books

Enjoy - Tim

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tonga Book ready

OK, Now we have Tonga as well. Whales and lots of pretty scenery! We have both color and BW images in the book and lots of Mom/Calf and Heat Runs (above and below).

Kingdom of the Whales

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Dark Continent!!

Big Sharks and Big ...

After a week or so of going through many of my Africa files, I was able to find a pretty broad range of images from down in the Cape in South Africa to some more recent tips to Mozambique and Kruger National Park. The result is a book of my favorite shots taken over the years. Some are film scans and other digital but they tell the story of seeing this contient's amazing eastern coast.
This book visits the dangerous and the beautiful through the lens of internationally published photojournalist Tim Rock.
This visual books deals with the eastern Africa coastal areas starting far south in and around the southern Cape where great white sharks ply the cool waters. It takes the viewer up the coast visiting the temperate and sub-tropical waters of South Africa. The book takes a look at Zulu life, the big (and small) game of South Africa's famous Hluhluwe and Kruger National Parks and then moves into Mozambique. This country has a huge coastline that is largely undeveloped and prime marine habtitat for migrating right and humpback whales, whale sharks and two species of manta rays as well as a variety of Indian Ocean fish and invertebrate species.
The book contains 240 pages with 337 photos of the amazing scenery, wildlife and marine life in South Africa and Mozambique. Each is in full color and photos are captioned and animals and marine life have identification. They have been gleaned from a number of trips to this once rarely-visited part of the world. Enjoy the photography and the beauty found along the Dark Continent's east coast. It's a special part of the world.

- Tim