WTF: SS Wear or What?

Is the shipwreck WTF actually SS Wear? I believe so, here’s why…

Identifying any wreck in 125m can be difficult, but the history behind the shipwreck named “What the Fuck” or WTF is confusing. Discovered by a Sydney Project team in 2006, the WW2 era wreck was originally identified as SS Iron Knight. Subsequent dives proved this to be incorrrect based on size and configuration, so the name WTF stuck. In more recent years, a case has also been made for it actually being SS Coast Farmer.

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New Wreck Off Sydney – Crane Barge

We dived a wreck on the weekend after Scott Willan and I did a Sydney to Pittwater multibeam scan several weeks prior (almost 100nm covering all known wrecks). On Saturday 11th February Scott Willan, Victoria Parr, Grant Joslin and myself went out to dive several of the targets identified including an object approximately 2.8km South East of the wreck of the Birchgrove Park, at position 33° 38.938’S 151° 24.362’E (WGS 85 DD MM.mmm).

The wreck is in 56m and is a crane barge of approximately 25m by 12m with the main deck structure coming up approximately 1.5 meters and 2 elements of the old crane then come up an additional approximately 1.5m above the old deck line. We believe this wreck has found in approximately 2007 and subsequently dived, but the location was never released by the divers.

Conditions on the day were excellent with flat seas, great visibility and an abundance of fish life. The wreck site is well worth a dive, should be easy to find using standard echo sounders and is a great new addition to the shipwrecks in the area.

The only wreck on record that may fit the description is from the ‘Scuttled and Abandoned Ships in Australian Waters’, 1998 Parsons, CRANE BARGE No.4 Owned Maritime Services Bd. Scuttled 12m ESE of Sydney Heads, June 22, 1972, but the location is wildly wrong.

Discovering Andreas’ Wreck

Cruising out of Sydney Harbour, it’d been one year to the day since our good friend lost his life whilst we were exploring the MV Limerick. It only added to our anticipation, as the 70m dive we’d about to undertake was a relative unknown. Armed with more government survey data procured by Scott Willan, we’d previously scanned the site with our depth sounder and had a target in the GPS.

We drop a shot line on the target, gear up and descended. Not much is said, we just get on with the usual business of diving. As we hit the bottom, visibility is only about 3-4m and it’s twilight dark. Squinting, we see the outline of a wreck just out of view which gives us that feeling of relief, knowing we haven’t just done another deep dive to a sandy sea floor.

Together, two of us struggle to drag the heavy anchor and chain of our shot line across the sand to the bow of the wreck. Once there, we shake hands and acknowledge what we’ve achieved, before getting on with business. For me that’s shooting video, for Dave that’s firstly inflating a balloon as a signal to open-circuit divers that we’re on a wreck and to come down.

The current on the bottom is strong, such that we were fighting to hold position as we swam to the stern of the wreck. We can’t see a propeller, or an engine for that matter so we think it’s likely a scuttled ship. Having wasted time with the anchor, we’re quickly at the limit of our dive plan of 40min @ 74m. Reality hits, and we’ve got 2.5 hours of decompression ahead of us.

On deco, surface crew were kind enough to throw down some beers for a little celebration. Although not in the tec diving manual, it’s a welcomed break from the tiny jellyfish that sting my face as they drift past. On the surface, more celebration as we share what we’ve seen and ponder what it could be. At the time, we named it “Andrea’s Wreck” after our lost friend. Subsequent dives and research suggest that the wreck is that of the SS Yamba, but I’ll always remember it as Andreas’ wreck.

Previously Published: Asian Diver No 136 Issue Jan 2015

DIY Digital Intermediate Pressure Gauge

I came across these inexpensive digital pressure gauges a while back whilst looking for a mountain biking tyre pressure solution. Along the way I thought it’d be real nice to have a digital intermediate pressure (IP) gauge for scuba regulator servicing and tests.

The gauge reads up to 200psi (with units in metric & imperial), so is an ideal for reading scuba regulator IP. With a M10x1.0 brass thread on the gauge, I simply scavenged an old BC nipple (most are 3/8″ UNF) and tapped both ends into a piece of Delrin bar stock.

For a $6 solution, the gauge appears as accurate as any analogue one that I have (expensive or cheapo), and perhaps more importantly has mush greater resolution. Line creep is immediately identifiable, so no longer will I squint and stare at a little analogue gauge wondering if it’s moving.

Shark Photography with Mike Ball Dive

Face-to-face with shark – what will you do?

Hold your ground, raise your camera and take the shot you’ve been wanting for years. That’s what we do on the Mike Ball Dive Expeditions’ (MBDE) Shark Shooter Expedition – 6 April 2017. It’s one of my favourite places to dive, jumping into the gin clear water of the Coral Sea, eagerly greeted by hoards of sharks willing to get into photo range. The liveaboard expedition is run on Spoilsport, with presentations and tutorials by me on shark and general photography techniques. Personalised, hands-on workshops are also run both on land and in-water across the 3, 4 & 7 night itineraries for Spoilsport.

Our focus is very much on shark photography, so you can expect to get very close to Grey Reef Sharks, White Tips and commonly the awesome the Silvertips. It’s hammerhead season too, so we should be getting them too! Numerous shark attractions and the legendary Osprey Feed will occur, plus the opportunity to photograph a wide variety of marine life across the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef. Join us for a truly inspiring experience!


Strobes vs Video Light for Still Photography

Can video lights be used to replace strobes for still photograph?

I’ve generally answered “NO” to this question, but for off-camera lighting video lights are a simple and effective solution. We put our 10,000 lumen videos lights to the test in Madison Blue Cave (Florida), here’s what we found.

Let me first say that I still don’t believe video lights can effectively replace strobes for on-camera lighting for serious shooting scenarios (ie. those attached to camera). Modern strobes win hands down when it comes to output/intensity, weight, cost and duration. When it comes to off-camera lighting though, high lumen video lights are a viable solution due to simplicity – they provide a “what you see is what you get” approach, avoiding many of the pitfalls that come with managing off camera strobes. Let’s break down the pros and cons associated with each:


Left: Dual Ikelite DS-160s (full power) on divers back; Right: Single LD-100V, handheld under divers arm; Settings for both: 1/80s @ f/10; ISO1250

Video Lights

  • Simple – video lights are simple, not requiring remote triggers and sync cables
  • Real-time – photographer & model can see where the video light is pointed in real-time
  • Availability – video lights are often more on-hand, or people shoot video on same dive
  • Mounting – mounting a video light on a model will quickly become a liability, so you’re limited to handheld use
  • Duration – video lights have a limited burn time compared to strobes
  • Safety – constantly beaming 1000’s of lumens in a cave/wreck reduces communications (and pissed people off!)


  • Shutter Speed – strobes enable fast shutter speeds to be used (unlike constant light sources)
  • Duration – you get hundreds of frames with strobes, versus a limited burn-time/shooting wind lights
  • Complexity – strobes require slave sensors and sync cables, and can fail to fire
  • Guesswork – models often have to guess where a strobes beam will fire
  • Mounting – strobes can be mounted on a diver’s back, tanks, etc… hands free & only firing when triggered
  • Cost – bang for buck, strobes will give you more light and shooting time

Of all the variables, shutter speed and duration are perhaps the biggest advantages of strobes. Fast shutter speeds in cave environments gives you crisp images (albeit with the loss of primary light beams), whilst not having to worry about burn-time and power levels is pretty handy.


Left: 1/200s @ f/10; ISO1250 – Dual DS-160s; Right: 1/60s @f/7.1; ISO1250 – Single LD-100V; Working to the strengths of the video lights can yield great results, pulling the diver off the background wall.

In contrast, video lights win out when it comes to simplicity, real-time viewing and availability (depending on the project/location). What you see is largely what you get, though you will have to shoot with a slow shutter speed to make it work (e.g. 1/60s). Inexperienced models often approach a video light with more familiarity and willingness. Minimizing the distance to subject will also maximize the impact of a video light, so get closer!

As can be seen from our test shots in Madison Blue, off-camera video lights for still photography are a viable tool. You will need to manage certain constraints, but they can enable great shots to be taken in the right environment. Of course, why not mix it up as we recently did in Twin Cave, using strobes, video and primary lights all in one go.


Originally Posted:

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