Nov 182013

Get down low and shoot up...and then what?

I already talked about my rationale behind taking my camera on my MOD1 rEvo course – I wanted to learn how I was going to handle both camera and rebreather at the same time, all while under supervision. During the course I learnt a few tricks and techniques for stowing the camera while dealing with a rebreather issue. The second part of managing the two together was working out how to take photos while diving closed circuit. I’m sure this is going to be a continual learning curve for the next year or two, so I’ll probably be revisiting this topic a few times. Here’s some initial challenges and thoughts.

Flying the flag

My first observation is on buoyancy. I know I tend to bounce around a lot when I take photos. I zip from side to side of the tunnel, looking for the best angle. I start a photo run high and end it down low, or begin the right way up and rotate head over heels to follow a moving diver. Part of the reason to end deeper than I started on a photo series was to reduce the number of bubbles I sent up – good for fish that don’t like bubble noise.

It quickly became apparent that dynamic depth on a single photo run wasn’t going to work on the rEvo. Before starting photographing a particular subject, I needed to select the depth I wanted to work at and stay there. Changing depth required adding or dumping gas to the loop and/or the wing, and three of those four actions required a spare hand and some concentration. Selecting subjects and planning photo runs that allow me to stay at the same depth is going to be key to getting good shots.

My photo runs also got noticibly shorter. Rather than lining up a subject and taking 6 to 8 photos with pauses and recompositions between shots, I was taking 3 to 4 and then backing off to check my ppO2 and think about recomposing. I think more planning and less photos is a better photographic habit to get into, so I’m happy to stay nervous on that one.

Liberty Wreck

Lastly, I’m still not sure how I’m going to line up my macro shots. On open circuit I normally line up a subject and gently descend and manouvre until I can shoot up. The same holds true for wide angle photography although perhaps not to the same extent. On the breather, getting down to the right level is relatively easy. The tricky bit is getting back up again. On open circuit I would take a deep breath in until I lifted off, then gently fin backwards. This didn’t require any hands. On the rebreather I need to either inflate my wing (and then deflate it shortly afterwards), or push off the substrate. Both options require a hand, and neither appeal. If anyone has tips for microbuoyancy management I’m all ears.

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