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  • Review: DGX Gears Gauge Reader Masks | ATA/BAR Divers

    Inexpensive & Effective Vision-correcting DGX Gauge Reader Masks Bottom Line If you are grappling with the close-up vision limitations of being a mature diver, there is an inexpensive and effective solution for your older eyes underwater. Check out the DGX Gears Rio Gauge Reader Mask from Dive Gear Express. UPDATE: Comparing DGX Gears Ren v. Rio gauge reader masks. The time had finally come. Reading instructor slates—let alone the beloved Shearwater Perdix AI (in spite of its big and bright display)—had become too difficult for these 60-something year-old eyes. Similarly-aged dive buddies had nothing good to say about stick-on reader lenses, and custom-built prescription scuba masks seemed unreasonably expensive, so the decision was to just deal with it… until it became impossible to do so. ​ Stumbling upon vision correcting masks at Dive Gear Express ( ) was a fluke. The real shopping mission was to purchase long, double-braided flex hoses. Being a past DGX customer, I felt comfortable with the quality of their gear portfolio and am regularly pleased with pricing, so I examined their mask offerings closely. ​ It didn’t take long to review their line of corrective vision masks and settle in on the DGX Gears Rio Gauge Reader Mask . The term “gauge reader” escaped me until I wore the mask underwater. Just like DGX states, the corrective lenses allow you to “read your SPG but offers clear sight at distances.” In other words, you won't be reading a novel underwater with this lens design, but a glance at a gauge or computer is what they are designed for. Indeed, the corrective portions of the mask lenses have a distinctively low profile, which is contrary to most stick-on lenses that tend to distort distance vision and is a chief complaint among new users. ​ How does the Rio work? Quite well actually. The lenses are all-but-unnoticeable during regular viewing of distant objects. When it’s time to focus on a computer screen, gauge, or recite from instructor slates, a downwards glance brings the formerly fuzzy digits of my Perdix and my backup SPG into crisp focus. Instructional slate reading? I found using a single eye (focusing downward and outward) works best, but that might change with additional use and experience. The mask fit is comfortable for my larger face. And with a price of $49.95 (as of this writing), the mask is a reasonable deal, corrective lenses or not. ​ Get to Know Dive Gear Express ​ If you are not familiar with Dive Gear Express, you should be. DGX offers good products at exceptional price points.* They also have some great “Tek Tips” throughout their site, including on the Rio Gauge Reader Mask product page , where the company discusses how to order the right prescription lenses at length. (Ever wonder if a black dive mask is best? They have a Tek Tip on that too!) Finally, if you are getting out your scrounging up a cigarette lighter, toothpaste or Soft Scrub in anticipation of “prepping” your new DGX mask, think again and review the DGX warning here . Just like the company says, you won’t have any problems with mask fogging with a simple rinse of baby shampoo or other defogging agent before your dive, so no "mask prepping" required . ​ Update: DGX Gears Ren v. DGX Gear Rio Gauge Reader Masks ​ If you visit the DGX vision correcting masks webpage , understand there are two types of masks available for purchase: "vision correcting" masks and "gauge reader" masks. "Gauge reader" masks are discussed here; "vision correcting" masks are more like conventional eyeglasses with their entire lens corrected for vision. 1/1 The descriptions of each gauge reader mask is available on the product webpage. As written by Dive Gear Express, the Ren is designed to fit "narrow and standard faces," while the Rio "fits most medium to wide faces." We purchased both masks for a side-by-side comparison (click images to enlarge view): The Rio fits medium/large faces while the Ren fits smaller/narrower faces The nose pocket on the Ren is smaller than the Rio. Overall width of the masks are similar. Skirting of the Ren is slightly larger than the Rio. Water volume comparison: Rio holds <1/8 cup more than the Ren. Masks straps appear to be identical. Mask buckles look identical. They operate easily allowing for quick adjustments and provide a firm grip of the strap. ​ * ATA/BAR DIVERS are not compensated spokespersons for DGX. We are just happy customers.

  • Breath Like a Diver | ATA/BAR Divers

    Breathe Like a Diver Practice Wet Breathing Without a Pool Bottom Line Breathing like a diver is an unnatural process and can be challenging for new divers. If you have limited experience wearing a mask, breathing with a snorkel, or can’t stand the thought of water going up your nose, or if water in the back of your throat makes you cough, choke or panic, these drills can help you master the skills associated with breathing like a diver. By design, humans are primarily nose breathers—and for good reason: Noses connect to sinus cavities, and it is in the sinuses where filtering, warming and humidification of inhaled air occurs. Our lungs would not do well if they were regularly abused by cold, dirty, and dry air. That is why prolonged breathing through the mouth is abnormal at best and potentially harmful at worst. But then there is scuba diving… Unless you are a full-face mask diver, mouth breathing through a regulator is how scuba divers survive. If you are a new diver, you might find mouth breathing awkward, but adding a little bit of water to the mix can turn an uncomfortable experience into an overwhelming one, resulting in uncontrolled coughing, choking, and a panicked ascent to the surface. “Wet breathing” is a way of life for scuba divers because there is no way to avoid water in masks, snorkels and regulators. Practicing “breathing around” this water is the only way to reduce the physical stress associated with water in the airway (throat, nose and sinuses). With experience, you’ll quickly realize that a little water up the nose or in the back of the throat is not that big of a deal. Beyond inhaling slowly to breathe around water, how you cope with wet breathing (e.g. blocking the back of your throat with your tongue to avoid a choking response to water in the airway) is a personal choice that will develop through trial and error. If you think wet breathing might be a problem for you, practice will certainly help. These drills do not require a pool or any specialized equipment beyond a mask, a snorkel, and a little bit of water: INHALE-EXHALE EXERCISES: NO MASK OR SNORKEL Inhale through your nose and exhale from your mouth until comfortable. Inhale through your mouth and exhale from your nose until comfortable. Switch between breathing techniques with each breath. Breathe in from the nose and out from the mouth; next breath, in from the mouth and out the nose. Repeat 10 times (20 breaths). MASK-ON BREATHING Breathe through your mouth while wearing a mask. You can do this while doing pretty much anything (like watching TV) for 30-50 minutes—the average length of a scuba dive. MASK & SNORKEL BREATHING Same as the Drill #2 except add a snorkel to breathe through. Because snorkels represent additional “dead air space,” you must learn to breathe past the snorkel to get fresh air into your lungs. This requires deeper breaths as the snorkel will essentially store some of your last exhaled breath, and this air contains carbon dioxide that you must breathe “past” by inhaling deeper, but not faster. Practice as long as you feel comfortable then work to increase your tolerance for snorkel/mask wearing times. You goal should be 50-60 minutes. Advanced Skill Challenge Do some light exercise (similar to swimming) while wearing the mask and a snorkel. Mow the lawn (and get some odd stares from neighbors), vacuum, mop, get on the treadmill, etc. BREATHING WITH NOSE IN WATER Fill your mask halfway with water. Put it on with your face pointing downward. Slowly raise your head to the normal position which will cover your nose with water. Gently press the mask skirt against your face to reduce water leakage. Breathe normally through your mouth. Practice as long as you feel comfortable then work to increase your tolerance up to about 3 minutes. Be cautious of water leaks during this exercise. Have a towel nearby. Advanced Skill Challenge Tilt your head back to further test your ability at airway control. SNORKEL BREATHING WITH NOSE IN WATER Same as Drill #4 except add a snorkel to breathe through. Advanced Skill Challenge Tilt your head back to further test your ability at airway control. As instructors, we have given students “homework assignments” than included watching an hour of TV with mask and snorkel in place. These no-water, non-threatening practice sessions can go a long way in bringing confidence to students who lack any appreciable experience with mask or snorkel use. Encourage students to text you a pic while practicing! IF A POOL OR OTHER BODY OF WATER IS AVAILABLE , additional practice sessions are available and easy to do. Your imagination is the only limiting factor to possible drills to reduce fear of water in the airway: Partially or fully flood mask and breathe through mouth Partially or fully flood mask and breathe through regulator Swim in various body positions/angles to determine tolerance for water in airway Submerge face without mask and breathe through snorkel Nose-pinching is allowed in the beginning but students should be able to do this skill without having to block nostrils

  • Review: Indigo Industries TAC Fin | ATA/BAR Divers

    Do These Fins Even Work? Indigo Industries proves—once again—that a small fin can do big things underwater. Meet the shorter and lighter TAC Non-Military fin. Bottom Line How short and light can a scuba fin go and still maintain a high level of performance? INDIGO INDUSTRIES pushes the envelope and delivers with the TAC Non-Military fins. Bigger is not always better, and a scuba gear company you may not yet know is out to prove that very point by pushing the boundaries of conventional scuba diving equipment with their latest offering: The TAC Non-Military fin . We have written about INDIGO INDUSTRIES and their innovative fin, the Defiant XT, before. If you are not familiar with our backstory on the Defiant XT, please check it out here . Figure 1. Twin Jets (left), Defiant XT (center), and TAC Non-Military (right). Indigo Industries TAC Non-Military Maximum Length: 18.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 11 inches Centerline Length: 17 inches Weight: 2 lb 2.2 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap Scubapro Twin Jets Maximum Length: 24.75 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 24.75 inches Weight: 2 lb 12.5 oz each fin with third-party spring strap Indigo Industries Defiant XT Maximum Length: 20.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 19 inches Weight: 2 lb 7.5 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap We've been diving the Defiant XT since its introduction to the dive market, and for reasons described elsewhere, we love them. Then came along the TAC... We had to try a pair out. ​ When the TACs arrived, our first impression was "Do these fins even work?" The TAC fins are two inches shorter, one inch wider, and five ounces lighter (per fin) than its older sibling, the Defiant XT. Compared to the venerable Scubapro Twin Jets, the TAC is over six inches shorter and 10.3 oz lighter (per fin). INDIGO INDUSTRIES fins get some interesting looks on the dive boat and underwater, and for good reason: We can't think of another dive fin on the market that casts a similar shadow. Indeed, INDIGO's fins have broken the mold when it comes to what a dive fin can look like while still performing like its larger counterparts. ​ ​ The TAC and Defiant XT perform similarly. Propulsion and maneuverability are comparable. The TAC fin is negatively buoyant but its lighter characteristics were immediately noticeable; a quick modification in body position addressed this difference easily. ​ We found the bottoms of the new TACs to be quite slippery on the boat deck. For this reason, we suggest roughing the bottom up across the boat deck, concrete, asphalt, or some other surface in order to remove the slick sheen. ​ INDIGO's new spring straps worked well. The strap holds the fin firmly in place. ​ Used with a size 14 Henderson 5 mm Molded Sole Gripper Boot , we found the TAC fin pocket to be tight, which is helpful when avoiding unnecessary midfoot flexion. But we could not get the foot pocket to fit a new pair of size 14 ​Henderson 7 mm Quick Dry Aqualock Boots . ​ We will continue diving with the TAC Non-Military fin and look forward to trying out one of INDIGO's latest offerings: The Bionic AF Omin-Directional Carbon Fiber Standard fin . Figure 2. Defiant XT (left) and TAC Non-Military. Figure 3. TAC Non-Military with Indigo spring strap.

  • Review: Olympus TG-4 | ATA/BAR Divers

    Olympus TG-4: Simply Add Water for Stunning Aquatic Imagery Bottom Line : Every once in a while we run across a product that we want to tell everyone about. So is the case with the Olympus TG-4 camera and the Olympus PT-056 underwater housing. We love our GoPro cameras but they do have a purpose. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a GoPro TV ad featuring still images? Exactly... It was this lack of still photo chutzpah that made us venture out to find a reasonably priced, smallish underwater camera to take good ol' photos with. ​ If you've done any recent research on this topic, no doubt you have run across countless reviews of the Olympus TG-4 (MSRP $380). One review in particular caught our attention: Backscatter's Jim Decker gave a glowing review that is almost too good to believe: "For the price, the TG-4 is unbeatable..." Could it be true? The answer is a resounding YES! The TG-4 is an amazing camera. ​ With about 20-seconds of "preparation and training," i.e. "How do you turn this thing on?," these images (Figures 1-3) were taken during a recent Channel Islands dive trip. Visibility was particularly poor with turbulent sea conditions that put lots of floating junk between the camera lens and intended subjects. ​ Figures 1-3 were literally point-and-click photos, so the results were not expected to be much. We were stunned by the clarity and detail in the photos. Native resolution for the TG-4 is 4608 x 3456 and files average about 3 MB each. ​ The camera, housing (Olympus PT-056 , MSRP $300) and external light source (Sola 3000 , MSRP $600, may be out of production) were configured for these photos as depicted in Figure 4. As full list of hardware (tray, handle, clamps and mounts) were purchased from the helpful folks at Backscatter and will be detailed here later. ​ The TG-4 also takes video in *.MOV format using an color auto-correction (replacing reds at depth) with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. Does it compare to GoPro video quality? We have to say YES! again. Underwater video examples include: Socorro Island, Mexico Anacapa & Santa Cruz Islands, California ​ We agree with Jim Decker: The TG-4 is an amazing and simple camera for underwater photo enthusiasts who aren't enthusiastic about spending $10,000 for a camera rig. ​ Figure 1: 1/200s, f/3.2, ISO 100, Focal Length: 5.1mm Figure 2: 1/400s, f/2.8, ISO 100, Focal Length: 4.5mm Figure 3: 1/125s, f/3.2, ISO 125, Focal Length: 5.1mm ​ Additional Equipment Shown in Figure 4 An external light source can be mounted to the PT-056 underwater camera housing by using a cold shoe mount , but we found the camera, housing and Sola light a bit unwieldy to handle using the camera housing itself... so we added a real handle and tray to our rudimentary rig. We will likely add a tray extension , another handle, and a second light to balance the lighting out. All items were acquired through : ​ Sola Ball Mount Kit Ultralight Mount Clip Ultralight Tray Tray Handle T-Bolts and Washers for Tray ​ This product review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind. Figure 1. Cropped, unretouched photo of a Garabaldi damselfish taken with the TG-4. Figure 2. Cropped, unretouched photo of a green anemone taken with the TG-4. Figure 3. Cropped, unretouched photo of a kelp bass taken with the TG-4. Figure 4. Olympus TG-4 + PT-056 housing + Sola 3000 video light with Backscatter tray, handle, clamp and mounts.

  • Toxic Effects of Sunscreen on Coral | ATA/BAR Divers

    Toxic Sunscreens: Impact on Coral Reefs & Other Sea Life Bottom Line Protect yourself from the sun by wearing SPF-rated clothing to decrease the need for sunscreen use. Protect coral reefs and other sea life by avoiding sunscreen products with the active ingredient oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) and a host of other potentially harmful chemicals. Educate fellow divers and students on the impact of sunscreens on the underwater environment. Be a role model and use only sunscreens that are free from harmful ingredients identified by independent researchers. Sunscreens marked “reef safe” may not be! Read the contents label. Use sunscreens that contain non-nano titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. The Problem As open water divers, we find ourselves in the sun a lot, and the regular application of sunscreen has become part of our dive day regimen. But sophisticated sunscreen consumers we were not. Our sunscreen buying “research” started and ended when we found a sale at our favorite big-box retailer. Over the years, sloshing mask water and sweaty brows contaminated our eyeballs with sunscreen lotion applied to our face. The results were anything from stinging eyes to dilated pupils and outright episodes of temporary blindness. Our search for tear-free sun protection made us realize that some of our favorite sunscreen brands actually harm the very coral we dive to enjoy. We clearly had missed the news: Research has shown that Oxybenzone (Benzophenone3) and other common sunscreen ingredients adversely impact the growth of coral, and there is a growing effort to ban sunscreens containing these harmful ingredients. ​ Community Action MEXICO. Along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, aquatic eco-nature parks like Xcaret and Xel-Há confiscate sunscreens from inbound visitors containing ingredients like: Octocrylene Benzophenone Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane Hexyldecanol cetyl dimethicone methylparaben polyethylene Propylparaben, and Butylcarbamate ​ The park replaces harmful chemical sunscreens with a “biodegradable sunscreen” considered more ecologically friendly. ​ U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene are now banned, according to the Los Angeles Times . ​ BONAIRE. Look for this diving mecca to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate on January 1, 2021 . The Bonaire Island Council approved this measure during a 2018 meeting, according to InfoBonaire . ​ HAWAII. In 2021, Hawaii will prohibit sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Back in May 2018, the state legislature sent Senate Bill 2571 to the governor for signature. ​ KEY WEST. In Florida, the Key West City Commission voted to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Read the New York Times story. ​ THAILAND. The country of Thailand has banned sunscreens containing xybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben. Read the Bankok Post story. ​ PALAU. In 2020, the country of Palau will be the first nation to ban sunscreens deemed caustic to reefs. Palau is considered one of the world's top diving destinations. Read the New York Times article here . ​ AMERICAN NATIONAL PARKS. The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, published a flyer called Protect Yourself, Protect Your Reef! that outlines the harmful effects of certain chemical sunscreen active ingredients on coral reefs. ​ How You Can Help If you are a diver, dive instructor, or just an adventurous, above-water sun worshiper, become an informed sunscreen consumer. SPREAD THE WORD! You have the chance to educate friends, family, fellow divers and dive operators about this important topic. Start reading sunscreen labels. If the active ingredients have unpronounceable, chemical-sounding names, there is a good chance you could be adversely impacting coral reefs. ​ Look for sunscreens that use active ingredients like non-nano titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. We have had good luck with no-tear face protection during dives using the following brands: ​ Raw Elements Caribbean Solutions Tropical Sands Kinesys Zinc Ointment ​ The Research We will not rewrite the empirical research conducted on this topic; rather, we will point you to solid links on the harm chemical sunscreens can do to our oceans. Please take our warning: SOME SUNSCREENS THAT CLAIM TO REEF SAFE ARE NOT! Some sunscreen manufacturers have gone so far as to fund junk science studies in an effort to debunk scientific research. ​ Downs C.A., Kramarsky-Winter E., Segal R., et al. (2016.) Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter,Oxybenzone (Benzophenone3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 70(2), 265-288. doi:10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7 [See ] Environmental Working Group. (2017.) The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See] ChemSec SIN List. (2018.) International Chemical Secretariat’s SIN (Substitute It Now) listing for Oxybenzone. Retrieved June 3, 2018. [See] ​ Danovaro, R., Bongiorni, L., Corinaldesi, C., Giovannelli, D., Damiani, E., Astolfi, P., … Pusceddu, A. (2008). Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(4), 441–447. doi:10.1289/ehp.10966 [See ] Haereticus Environmental Laboratory. (20 Oct. 2015). New Scientific Study Finds Coral Reefs Under Attack from Chemical in Sunscreen Lotions. (Press release). [See] Zafar, H., Ali, A., Ali, J. S., Haq, I. U., & Zia, M. (2016). Effect of ZnO Nanoparticles on Brassica nigra Seedlings and Stem Explants: Growth Dynamics and Antioxidative Response. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 535. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.00535 [See ] Zamoiski RD, Cahoon EK, Freedman M, Linet MS. 2015. Self-reported sunscreen use and urinary benzophenone-3 concentrations in the United States: NHANES 2003-2006 and 2009-2012. Environmental Research. 142(Oct): 563-567. [See ] ​ Links Ban Toxic Sunscreens National Ocean Service Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs ​ Updated 15 November 2021 "A Harmful Mix." Time Magazine Infographic on Oxybenzone.

  • Destinations | ATA/BAR Divers

    Reviews: Dive Destinations We love to dive and our goal is to share information about dive destinations and operators. The opinions expressed on this website are solely those of us at ATA/BAR DIVERS and do not reflect the opinion of dive operators we may be affiliated with. G&G's Cleawater Paradise Resort Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras Bottom Line G & G’s Clearwater Paradise Resort is a full-service dive operation that offers exceptional dining, comfortable accommodations, and unique underwater topographies for experienced divers on the island of Guanaja, Honduras. ​ The Longer Story Good friends own a boat and take you diving with them. Great friends live on an island, cook gourmet meals, own a boat and a secluded home with eight guest rooms, and take you diving with them. You need to meet these great friends you didn’t know you had on the island of Guanaja. [...more...] CoCo View Resort Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras Bottom Line CoCo View Resort is a well-oiled, all-inclusive dive center where nothing is left to chance. The grounds: beautifully manicured. Rooms: spacious and comfortable. Buffets: ample, tasty food at every meal. Shore dives, dive spots, boats, and staff are all exceptional. This place has a loyal following, and for good reason. ​ The Longer Story During the Fall of 2016, a group of eight California divers made their first trip to the revered CoCo View Resort on Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. A shuttle van transported us about 20 minutes from the Roatan Airport to a small... [...more...] Beyond Diving Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico Bottom Line Every accomplished diver should put cenotes diving on their underwater destination bucket list, and Beyond Diving Dive Center offers exceptional service and support to make your diving-centric stay on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula an enjoyable one. ​ The Longer Story In April 2015, a foursome of ATA/BAR DIVERS couldn’t resist a last-minute trip Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We stayed at the St. Martin Boutique Hotel and transport from the Cancun Airport was handled by Cancun Transfers USA . That was the easy part... [...more...] Horizon Divers Key Largo, Florida Bottom Line Located on US-1 (Overseas Highway) in Key Largo, Horizon Divers is a PADI 5-star IDC offering top-notch training from Open Water Diver to technical diving specialties like PADI Tec 40-50, trimix, rebreather, and advanced wreck. Horizon Divers is a rare find for tec divers in the Keys as its regular boat trips to wrecks offer single location, 2-hour+ gates that allow for plenty of bottom and deco time. ​ Whether you are a recreational diver searching for the next great challenge or a diving professional looking to deepen your skills and course offerings, Horizon Divers has curricula to meet your specific needs. Certified training agency affiliations include SDI, TDI, IANTD, and PADI. ​ Horizon has three boats and offers multi-trip discounts, trimix gas refills, and supports the needs of CCR divers.

  • Magnifying Glass: Bring Your Diving Into Focus | ATA/BAR Divers

    Magnifying Glass: Brings Your Dives Into Focus Bottom Line The eyes of any age diver can benefit from a simple magnifying glass. Macrolife viewing or any life viewing, it doesn't matter! Adding a magnifying glass to your dive kit will bring your underwater adventures into focus. No matter how old your eyes might be, bringing along a magnifying glass on your next dive outing will bring into focus a new dimension of our underwater world. On a trip to Roatan, Honduras, we first noticed this equipment addition on divers of a certain age (60+), but even younger divers can benefit from this inexpensive piece of equipment. Weight of the glass and bolt snap is negligible. In this example, the magnifying glass, bolt snap and split ring can be easily clipped to a BCD D-ring or stowed in a gear pocket. This particular magnifying glass has a plastic handle and a glass lens (to reduce incidental scratches but does increase weight ever-so-slightly). It is wide enough to allow divers to use both eyes to view small creatures. Smaller, circular magnifying glasses might require only one eye. ​ Especially when it comes to macro-life, a magnifying glass can be a benefit to divers of any age!

  • Image Editing with GIMP | ATA/BAR Divers

    Free & Easy Underwater Image Editing with GIMP Bottom Line : Looking for a cheap and easy software fix for your imperfect digital underwater images? Give GIMP a try. GIMP, the Gnu Image Manipulation Program Those of us at ATA/BAR DIVERS have been called many things of the years, but none of us have ever been accused of being underwater photographers. Sure, we love our little GoPro ® cameras and underwater lights, but our rigs—and general photographic knowledge—pale in comparison to some of the set-ups regularly seen on dive outings. While we may know our place in the true underwater photographers’ world, it does not keep us from trying to find that perfect shot, in spite of our underpowered equipment. Recently on a dive at Anacapa Island , a Garibaldi , with its unusual and almost human-like lips, took a fancy to us and our GoPro® camera and Underwater Kinetics lights. The water conditions were good but not perfect, and to add additional injury to this photo was the floating string that attaches the Polar Pro® Switchblade 2.0 macro lens to the camera housing, which enabled the close-up photo of this golden fish with its funky lips. The photo seemed salvageable but I needed help from an image editing program to deal with the lens twine and the so-called backscatter , which is basically the illumination of particulate (floating bits of junk) in the water by camera or natural lighting. Off to the internet we went, looking for a solution that didn’t have a deep learning curve. One diver blogged about GIMP , the Gnu Image Manipulation Program . The price was right (free but donations gladly accepted) and it did exactly what was needed to correct backscatter, errant twine and other image imperfections. GIMP is an open source project that has been around since 1996. It is as easy—or as challenging—a program as you want to make it. We quickly found that the Healing Tool was magical and a favorite in dealing with imperfections, followed by the Clone Tool. Beyond managing image imperfections, the available tools are seemingly endless, but one you might want to examine closely is Color Management. If you find your red lens overpowers ambient light underwater, you can quickly try to tweak colors by using the multiple tools found under the Colors dropdown menu. The list of available tools could go on, but it won’t. If you are an avid (but uneducated) underwater photographer who is not willing to spend gobs of money or months of time learning a top-end image editing program, but want some great results for no investment, download a free copy of GIMP today. You should have visible results within minutes!

  • ATA/BAR Divers | PADI Rescue Diver Courses

    PADI Rescue Diver Course As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links reflect the latest information available from the noted PADI training facility on each class page. ATA/BAR Divers does not make or accept training class reservations. Please call or visit the respective PADI training facility to sign-up for classes. Prices subject to change —and classes subject to cancellation —without notice.

  • PADI Women's Dive Day 2018 @ Channel Islands | ATA/BAR Divers

    Thanks to our sponsors for making PADI Women's Dive Day 2018 such a huge success! Dive boat Raptor was a sellout and everyone aboard had a great time. Every single WDD diver walked away with at least TWO raffle prizes! Check out our video on YouTube . ​ Mark next year's calendars now! The 2019 PADI Women's Dive Day @ Channel Islands National Park will be held on 20 JULY 2019 . Location and details to follow over the next few months. Stay tuned and keep diving! PADI Women's Dive Day 21 Jul 18 @ Channel Islands National Park All Aboard at 7:00 am Ventura Dive & Sport 1559 Spinnaker Drive Ventura CA 93001 ​ MAKING A DIFFERENCE, ONE BUBBLE AT A TIME ​ Join PADI instructors Gina and Kelly for a chartered three-tank dive aboard the RAPTOR —California’s fastest commercial dive boat. Leaving from the Ventura Harbor , our destination will be Santa Cruz or Anacapa Island. ​ Your $150 PADI Women’s Day ticket includes the following: Commemorative Channel Islands PADI Women’s Dive Day T-shirt Catered breakfast and lunch aboard the Raptor Raffles, prize giveaways before and during our three dives Discussion on our local eco system Champagne, beer, wine and dessert after our dives! Buddy team prizes for the winners of our in-water games Support the advancement of PADI Professional women ​ ​ Everyone is guaranteed at least one prize! Women are invited to bring their gentleman dive buddy. The trip is sold out. To sign up for our standby list, please contact us . Not familiar with diving California's Channel Islands? Checkout out our video here . OUR RAFFLE PRIZE LIST! CHANNEL ISLANDS PADI WOMEN'S DIVE DAY RAFFLE PRIZES [ Contact us to sign up for standby tickets. ] ​ We've had an amazing response from local and international vendors to our first PADI Women’s Dive Day @ Channel Islands National Park . The list of generous businesses continues to grow! Here are our confirmed raffle prize contributors as of 11 July 2018: ​ The Greek Ventura Margarita Villa Beach Break Surf Shop Barefoot Boutique Lost in Socks Island Packers Gear Keeper Scuba Pro Kinetic Fitness Ventura Dive & Sport Studio 8 Fitness Sushi Fresh Ventura bubblebakery San Buenaventura Gyrotonic Trystology Aqua Lung Ventura Swimwear​ Henderson Aquatics Trident Diving Equipment Stahlsac Atomic Aquatics Akona Adventure Gear

  • Review: Indigo Industries Defiant XT | ATA/BAR Divers

    A Fine Fin The DEFIANT XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES Bottom Line The Defiant XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES has replaced my venerable pair of SCUBAPRO Twin Jets. These are the only set of blade fins that do not cause pain from excessive midfoot flexion. I loved my SCUBAPRO Twin Jets . For the last 15 years, they have been my only set of fins, and for good reason. Besides being uberly-cool bright yellow in color, they were the only fins I could wear that allowed me to dive pain-free. I have tried many other fins to no avail. The blade pressure created by conventional (non-split) blade fins on my funky foot (clinically known as posterior tibial tendon deficiency ) causes intolerable pain with any amount of midfoot flexion. That is until I tried out the DEFIANT XT from Indigo Industries . ​ UPDATE: Check out our review of INDIGO INDUSTRIES' TAC Non-Military fin . ​ Maybe you have haven’t heard of this company yet. You might have missed the many positive reviews in most of the popular dive magazines over the last couple of years. It’s non-traditional, modular fin design is an eye-catcher on dive boats. ​ Describing the fit of this fine fin is easier said than done, but here is my experience to date: The structure of the Defiant XT provides a booted foot with a solid platform (officially called the power transfer plate ) to work with. With its comfortable but firm foot pocket grasp, my foot and the Defiant XT become one. The Defiant XT is negatively buoyant in salt water. The Defiant XT fins weigh one pound less than my venerable Twin Jets (4 lbs v. 5 lbs weight respectively for each fin set). The blades are about five inches shorter than the Twin Jets (∼20” versus ∼25”). The Defiant XT uses different muscle groups in your lower legs, so don’t be surprised by a little muscle soreness to start. Power is not a problem. Dolphin kicking at the surface seems to be particularly effective. Reverse fin kicks are impossible with split fins. Finding the reverse gear with the Defiant XT is pretty easy. Conventional rubber fin straps are an absolute pain in the bootie . Run—don’t walk—to buy a pair of spring straps for your Defiants. (FYI: Indigo is poised to produce their own spring straps in the near future.) Not any spring strap will work; chances are your local dive shop won’t carry the right brand. I purchased the EZ Recreational Diver – Comfort Grip spring strap from Innovative Scuba Concepts . These straps come in four sizes: S-M-L-XL. For my size 15 feet, I use a size large. They work great. Used regularly with the hard-soled Henderson Molded Sole Gripper Boot , the foot pocket fit is firm and tight—which is exactly what I need. Getting the fin off this boot can be a challenge at times, but I’m okay with that. Three fin “stiffeners” are available with the Defiant XT. I used the “soft” stiffener. Medium and hard stiffeners are also available. Sizing information is available here . I have yet to try the optional full foot pocket, designed for bootless diving.

  • $4 Wet Notes Pad | ATA/BAR Divers

    $4 Wet Notes Pad The WEATHERMAX All Weather Notepad Works Well Bottom Line If you need to take notes into the water but don't want to spend big money on a custom diver's underwater notepad, consider this under $4 alternative. Need to take notes underwater but don’t want to pay $30 or more for a custom solution designed exclusively for divers? Check out the WeatherMax™ All-Weather Notepad. We recently used this notepad to jot down tec dive gas plans. Wrist slates have been a disappointment in the past; pencil notes can easily smear making important notations illegible. Larger slates and specialized diver notepads are cumbersome and can be overkill. ​ Measuring 6” x 3” the WeatherMax looks like any other pocket-sized notepad except this one works underwater, and it works well. ​ After nearly a dozen deep, long dives, below is what our original gas management plan notes looked like. The notes were made with a regular pencil at the surface. No smearing and a high contrast between paper and pencil marks. Notes can be erased using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad. ​ The WeatherMax™ All-Weather Notepad is available at Lowe’s and other retailers for under $4.

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