Nov 192014

Sunbeams through water

About the dive

Kilsby’s is gorgeous…I’ve been there many, many times and it’s usually great. Then on some occasions it moves from being great to being truly awesome. These photos were taken on one of those days. On this particular weekend the whole cave diving world was booked in to dive Tank Cave. Myself and my parents had three awesome dives at Pics, Pines and Kilsby’s without seeing another soul. The water in both the Cathedral in Pics and in the main cavern of Pines was crystal clear. And then there was Kilsby’s.

Self portrait in shadow

In early November I wasn’t sure if we’d be seeing much sunlight in the water. But by 9.45am or so the sunlight was just starting to creep off the rock wall and in to the water. By the time we were geared up and descending it was a giant, twinkling column of sunbeams from the surface to the bottom. After taking shots from back in the deep section we spiralled our way up. I spent some time with my back to the back wall at about 20m deep waiting for the right diver composition to take this shot.

About the photo

I tried a few different settings to optimise the shutter speed against the ISO and f stop. Slow shutter speeds give more light but they also blur the distinction between the beams. So I upped the speed slightly from the 1/8th that I can just about hold still to 1/20th. Even so there was more than enough light to still be shooting at f8 and ISO400. This means limited grain in the dark areas and nice clarity through the middle of the image. The divers in this case are swimming in front of the sunbeam rather than inside it so they show up nice and dark against the lit area. This is one photographic scene where a black drysuit isn’t a disaster!

The second shot was taken up in the shallows, just as I surfaced. After floating through the sunbeams for a look, I looked down to see my shadow flickering through the beams below me. I took a series of shots from different depths as I moved up through the water on my safety stop. Extending my legs straight back and keeping my whole body in a straight line helped make a (semi-)recognisable silhouette through the water. A faster shutter speed of 1/100 captured the individual rays, and you can see the ripples radiating out from the centre caused by me surfacing. This shot was taken on the rEvo so until I hit the surface very few bubbles were disturbing it. It was an awesome moment to be the centre of a sunbeam, and I love this shot.

Nov 042014
Tassie cave rescue exercise

  Since getting back from my trips after to France and Komodo, it’s been all work on the weekend front. Our Elk resupply trip and a weekend in Mt Gambier to talk at the CDAA AGM were followed by a trip down to Tassie to participate in a cave rescue exercise. The Tassie exercise was co-ordinated by Andreas of the STC, and partially funded by an ASF grant to get Al Warild down south from NSW to run it. Cave rescues in Tasmania are likely to be vertical affairs and the 4 day course focussed on rigging and lifting stretchers up and out to sunshine. The group attending included cavers from NSW, [read more…]

Oct 282014
Sunday afternoon in Pines

Weekend before last was the CDAA AGM and associated talks and dinner in Mt Gambier. After giving a talk on my evolution from cave diving to sump diving over the last ten years and listening a bunch of excellent presentations from the other speakers, it was great to get in the water on Sunday. Steve and I headed to Pines, a site I haven’t visited much since finishing my Tank pre-requisite dives some years ago. My Pines dives in the intervening time have mostly been with cave-rated buddies or for gear checkouts and involved photos of sunlight in the main cavern. So it was nice to be back, on the [read more…]

Oct 212014
Resupplying tanks into Elk River

After a trip over to Eurotek to talk about Elk River, and a couple of cancelled trips where for various reasons we didn’t get in the cave, it felt like it was time to go caving rather than talk about it. Our last trip into the cave was a push trip back in winter, where high water levels led to a sporting trip home back up the waterfalls. Steve and I laid some line and we also used a lot of tanks. Too many to carry out in one go – some of those empties were still in the cave. So this trip was to both retrieve the empties and [read more…]

Oct 172014
Diving the Lot - the Cregol

This was the best dive of the trip. You’ll have to excuse me for adding far too many photos to this post because I just can’t choose between them. Duncan and I headed off to the Cregol with our rebreathers while the rest of the team headed for Landenouse (which requires ropes to get in to). Unfortunately they ended up diving back at St Savaeur again due to divers at Landenouse, while Duncan and I had a brilliant day at the Cregol. The Cregol has an entrance restriction into the small and short first sump, followed by a large-ish dry chamber and a deep second sump. The second sump meant [read more…]

Oct 142014
Diving the Lot - Ressel 2

Ressel 2 seems to be a good back up plan for divers in the Lot when the parking at the Ressel is full of minivans on your arrival. The dive is similar to the Ressel in that it starts in a river, stays shallow for the early parts and then jumps down a deep shaft. However the vis was not as good and the cave walls a bit darker – I can see why this is the number 2 cave in comparison. After swimming across the river upstream into the gentle current we found a rock or two to sit on and waited for Georg to find the entrance. On [read more…]