Aug 272012

Optima through a restriction

About the site

As I mentioned two weeks ago, when Dive Rite announced their annual photo competition, a weekend in Tank Cave seemed like the obvious place to take some shots of Dive Rite gear in action. I was lucky enough to win third prize against some very nice shots. Some of my other submitted shots from that weekend didn’t make the final, and luckily I’m the only judge on my own site. I love this pair of shots, and the first one definitely deserves a little explanation.

Tank cave entrance

About the dive

Having brow beaten my buddies into wearing all their Dive Rite gear and none of the rest, we had a lovely series of dives over the weekend while also doing some mapping and having a look around the back blocks. At the very end of the weekend, this particular dive was a setup to get this shot. I was keen to get an image of a diver squeezing through a small space. I’ve taken a few images of sidemount divers pushing into new territory before and with the O2ptima on hand it seemed like a good opportunity to capture something a little bit different.

After some discussion, we decided it was feasible to push the rebreather through the hole in front of the diver. While there may be a few restrictions in the world that suggest this manoeuvre, I’m unconvinced of the wisdom of removing rebreathers mid-dive for exploratory purposes. Getting inventive in this environment tends to create a large amount of silt and trying to put the gear back on afterwards is not easy. As such, I would strongly caution against attempting rebreather removal underwater, especially in a cave. If you really want to set up scary scenes for fame and fortune, this close-to-home, not-too-small restriction is a great place to do it.

About the shot

As Wayne pushed the breather through, the bottom heavy tank valves headed down into the silt, creating the cloud you can see. The rolling silt is very photogenic but also put a very limited time frame on the image before the silt dispersed evenly through the water and ruined the shot. I had placed an off camera strobe further back in the restriction to light any cave behind, which either hasn’t been triggered or can’t be seen because of the silt cloud. Luckily Wayne’s primary torch beam is providing just a touch of off camera lighting from the middle of the Op2tima.

The drawback of this shot is that unless you’re conversant with an O2ptima, it’s quite hard to immediately see what’s going on.  I like the silt cloud and the framing of the shot, and the eye contact with the viewer. From this angle the colourful bits of the mostly black unit emerge from the melee to draw the eye. Eventually I’ll retake this shot with less silt and more recognisable bits of dive gear, to negate the need to explain what’s going on. Until then, this is my favourite “diver through restriction” image.

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