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.
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.