Dive Master In-Training- What Is It?

dive master training padu scuba robb hamicI officially became a Dive Master in training yesterday when I completed my 40 required dives to enter the program.  It was easy for me to get all of the various certifications through Rescue Diver because there was a formal class and I set aside blocks of time to study.  I amassed a number of additional dives but I was still 25 short.  I think that this is a common problem for dive master candidates.

How Do You Get Additional Dives

It was hard for me to get the dives, in a way because it is just turning spring in Texas and it is cold.  On the other hand, I have a boat so I can take diving friends along to get dives in.  I went out over the weekend but the water was really cold and I only got five dives in.  I was really anxious to get my underwater time taken care of so I could officially start the program.  People who live on the ocean have a big advantage over people who live inland because the ocean is right there.  I ultimately found a warm water spring where I could live underwater for about six combined hours over the past couple days.  i was so happy when i saw dive #40 in my log book!

Start DM Training

I start my training full-throttle tomorrow.  I will be assisting with a class of open water and certified scuba divers.  There are many required learning skills that must be completed in order to take the dive master test and complete the program.  I set my sights on finishing the program in a month so I will be working hard.  During the training I will be working side by side with my instructor’s dive master.  They work together really closely and I feel like I am getting two teachers for the price of one.  I understand that a lot of instructors teach solo.

I am really looking forward to working on my program and gaining a lot of experience each week as I assist in class.  I look at my Dive Master friend Jason.  He handles so much for the instructor.  It is interesting to observe the different roles in scuba diving.  A class really moves really smooth with a  good DM.  They handle so many problems underwater, which frees up the instructors time to teach and lead dives in the training area.  Students have a lot of questions and it is hard for an instructor to be there to answer them all.  That is where a good DM comes in.  An instructor can teach a beggar class with the assistance of a DM and that is also a plus.

Dive Master Pay Sucks
ride to dive harley diving scuba master

Ride to Dive! I loaded up my Harley for a trip to the springs in my Dive Master training.

Dive Masters are a bit underpaid in the industry, from what I have seen.  There is the ability to teach Emergency First Aid and CPR classes and they can also become an instructor for underwater photography to earn money.  Otherwise a DM works for tips.  The industry standard is $10 per tank of air used, but that seems low to me.  A lot of time is spent, when you calculate the time that a DM takes out of his schedule to commute to class, teach, answer questions after and then go to lunch to do log books.  DM’s often work more than anyone at the dive spot.  Who do you think hauls all of the tanks and equipment around?

My advice for scuba students is to look to the dive master as a resource and pick their brain.  They are very knowledgable and helpful.  You’ll get more out of your learning experience.

Travel Investigation and Other Tips For The Best Experience

Travler SafetyIf you want to travel, you must wear many different “hats.”  Good research is required regardless of where you travel if you hope to have the best time and stay out of trouble.  We all know many people who failed to properly research a trip that ended up with less than an optimal experience.  It is my goal in writing this article, to give people some insight on how to properly investigate your travel plans.My AdviceI am an investigator by nature and I accumulated a lot of experience as a Sheriff’s Detective and private investigator for twenty years.  I think we all have a tendency to view life through our own lens and I look at travel through the lens of an investigator.  Travel is a big investment and it is wise to guide yourself to the best possible experience through a complete investigation of your destination.  I decided to walk my readers through part of my own process, because I feel that I have been very successful in my travels.  I’ve listed a couple of my tips below.


Travel is often dictated by a person’s desire to visit a particular location.  Sometimes people have business that takes them to a  destination and they hope to make the best out of the trip by seeing the sights.  I think that it is natural to want to get the most out of time spent in a place by seeing all that it has to offer.  People are often motivated by visiting landmarks or historical sites, while others are driven by their hobbies even before they leave.  I always wanted to take great photography as I spent time in a foreign land.  Social media has driven a new kind of sharing when it comes to documenting your travels.

I spent about a month visiting Israel in 2010 and I think I got the most out of my visit.  I was staying in Netanya, Israel and studying with the Grand Master of Krav Maga, which is a big passion of mine.  I knew that my course time would be about two weeks but I figured that I should see as much of this beautiful nation as I could before going home.  I booked the airfare and arrived in Tel Aviv with my bags.  After clearing customs, I rented my own car.  I always rent a car when I plan to be in a foreign place for any amount of time because it give me the flexibility to do what I want and not wait for a tour or another person to get up and go.  I also have a strange habit of not using a map for no good reason other than the fact that I am a guy.  Netanya was about an hour’s drive from the airport and I love the roads in Israel.  They are better than most American cities and the signs are printed in English, Hebrew and Arabic.  It makes getting around the country very easy.

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Photography in St. Croix

st croix travel miss lone star #travel #travelblogger Christiansted Walking Tour vacation

Walking around in Christiansted St. Croix and enjoying the old buildings.

Camera Miss Lone Star TravelsBelieve it or not, it took a long time to take this picture.  Please notice the rooster at the corner of the frame.  He was elusive but he had to be in the picture.  We were coming from doing a little shopping and life seemed to slow down.  We strolled down this old street and I could picture how it was to walk on this same street hundreds of years ago.  It was an “ah ha” moment, indeed. I loved Christiansted Harbor and the old town although it wasn’t packed with tourists or filled shops.  It was quiet and there was enough to entertain us as we walked along.  We ate at a local place for lunch and we were content.  The light was coming through the tight street at an interesting angle.  There were vines and moss growing on the old walls.  The proud rooster patrolled his territory.  I hope he would of this picture.

miss lone star robb hamic captain travel blog #travel #travelblogger caribbean

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Knock Your Socks OFF Lobster Fried Rice

Knock Your Socks OFF Lobster Fried Rice D94A3739 Spicy Sauce You will need

  • 2 ripe guavas peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 oz cranapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon Asian red chili sauce

Wasabi Cream Sauce You will need

  • 3 tablespoons wasabi paste or powder
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

Lobster Fried Rice You will need

  • 2 – 1 1/2lb lobsters, steamed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups Jasmine Rice, cooked
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced thinIMG_2329

Putting it All together Cut the lobster tails in half and remove meat (keep warm. Remove knuckle and claw meat; chop into chunks and reserve. I like to reserve the heads and claws for garnish (this freaks the kids out). Blend all of the spicy sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and reserve. In a small bowl, combine wasabi, sour cream and heavy cream. Mix well and set aside. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Sauté garlic, be car full to not over cook. Add rice and stir-fry, break up any clumps of rice. Add sprouts and peas and fry for 2 minutes. Then add oil and egg gross to coat rice, cook 2 more minutes. Add lobster and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve by pooling a bit of sauce on each plate then add rice and lobster chunks. Then… Garnish to freak out the kids!

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

What Gear do we use?

I’m going to list some of the gear we use with a few examples of images and why we chose the lens for this particular picture. I’d also like to mention a few things to you aspiring photographers, I get asked all of the time what should I spend my money on, the camera body or the lens? The answer is the LENS!! If you are just starting out I highly recommend the “Nifty 50” the 5omm f/1.4 not to be confused with its big brother the 50mm 1.2 L. Both lenses are prime (aka not a zoom lens). The nifty 50 will offer you the most bang for your buck, it runs around $400 and is a work horse!

I took this sweet pic (below) in our kitchen on a cloudy day.. LOL (I’m kidding it’s painful for me to post this!) I didn’t want one of our DSLR’s to feel left out. It kills me to use the auto setting  on anything


Canon 50mm f/1.4 – This is the lens I started out with, when I was just learning on my little Canon Rebel xti. The nifty 50 is the lens that I recommend for anyone starting out, it is crystal clear, fast (has a wide aperture or f-stop of f/1.4) and simple to use! Here is an example from my Canon 50mm f/1.4 shot on the Canon 5D  Mark III

Canon 50mm f/1.4 1/1600 sec

Canon 50mm f/1.4 1/1600 sec

Canon 85mm f/1.2 L – The lens I’ve been swooning over for two years. This lens makes a beautiful creamy bokah (the blurry background that you see in images and always say “How do they do that?!”) and is as sharp as they come. I feel that this is the best of all of Canon’s L series lenses. At $2,300 for me it was a great buy, but I suggest for those of you that are just starting out, the nifty 50 will do for now, and once you master the craft with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and you have the cash go-for-it! Here is an example of an image I made with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L. Once you are use to a prime lens the transition to the 85mm will be smooth, the only thing that has taken me a bit to get use to is that it feels pretty narrow even on my full frame Canon 5D Mark III body.

85mm f/2.8 ISO 160 1/100 sec

85mm f/2.8 ISO 160 1/100 sec

Canon 100mm f/2.8 L MACRO – Okay, so this smooth little number is my favorite as impractical as it may be compared to some of my other lenses for a portrait photographer. The term MACRO basically means you can take a picture super close up and have it be in focus, and if you like catching critter and documenting the details you really cannot live without this lens. The Canon 100mm f/2.8 L get an A+ in my book, I cannot believe I went so long without it, I personally find a reason to use this lens everyday. Here is an up-close and personal I captured with this lens. I understand now why that little word MACRO is so important!

MACRO 100mm ISO200 f/2.8 1/200 sec

MACRO 100mm ISO 200 f/2.8 1/200 sec

(these are all “prime” lenses meaning that they do not zoom, unless of course you call your legs a zoom which I do when it comes to theses guys)

Canon 16-24mm f/2.8 L Hello beautiful! This is a landscape photographer must, the wide-angle gives a full dramatic view, a full picture of the scene, much more like the live view from the human eye. We purchased the f/2.8, because I like a faster lens, but now that we have been using it a while I rarely open it up that wide and could have done well with the f/4 which is much cheaper (don’t tell my husband)

Canon 16-24mm 2.5 sec ISO 100 f/22 18mm

Canon 16-24mm 2.5 sec ISO 100 f/22 18mm

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L So this was my third purchase when I became a professional, I bought the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L thinking that this was a “wide-angle” whoops, the 70-200mm is a big zoom. So then I purchased this one the 24-70mm, my mentor said that this was a must have in my bag. I will say that I have used it a bunch, but I’m not in love with it. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like when I use this lens there is a little magic missing…

Canon 24-70mm ISO 200 f/2.8 1/125 sec

Canon 24-70mm ISO 200 f/2.8 1/125 sec

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L Top used portrait lens in my bag, has been and will be. This lens gives me the magic I’m looking for and has great compression (I will explain compression in a later post). If you are one that doesn’t feel comfortable in someone’s face, getting that perfect shot, this is a great lens. Her is a sample below.

1/250 sec f/2.8 73mm ISO125

Canon 70-200mm 1/250 sec f/2.8 73mm ISO 125

Canon 6D This is the camera body that is in Robb’s bag. He use to be a Nikon guy, but before we got married I made him make the switch, Canon vs. Nikon is like a religion in this house!

Canon SPEEDLITE 580EX II So I rarely use this, but when I do I really needed it. I try to avoid using the speed light because it will give your images a much harsher look, and as a portrait photographer isn’t all that flattering.

If you have any questions I’d love to help. There is so much that I wish I would have asked before I started buying gear!!

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star