About the site
Pics is a gorgeous dive. The site earned a RAMSAR listing in 2012 and early last year works were carried out to slightly raise the water level and flood an additional 25ha of wetlands. I dived there earlier in the year with a film crew working on a shoot for the History Channel. We had a brilliant day of sunshine and very clear water, and I was keen to get back to shoot some stills for myself.
About the dive
Diving here is a very vertical experience. The cave is a narrow rift from the surface down to 40m. In places it’s cut away underneath and on a normal scuba dive the exhaled bubbles run up the walls to the surface. The bubble motion knocks silt and algae off the walls and the water clarity drops significantly over the course of a dive. Nothing like the silt clouds in Elk River, of course, but enough to reduce the photo quality.
So with rebreathers in hand I was keen to see what images I could get with a little more dive time in clear water. Unfortunately we got in to discover the some floating algal strands distributed throughout the cave, presumably from the previous day’s diving. But the rebreathers definitely made life easier (and more complicated at the same time). I could take time to reposition strobes, diver and camera angles without having to then find a new bit of clear water.
About the photo
The photo above is taken from nearly exactly the same place as my first great shot in Piccaninnie. Only instead of looking out at the sunshine, I’ve turned one hundred and eighty degrees to look back into the top of the cave. I love the lines in the ceiling here and the sense of space the off camera light provides. The strobe in Andreas’s hand hasn’t gone off in either of these shots, and the lighting is provided by the second strobe on his back. I found the rebreather loop a very handy place to attach the slave sensor of the backmounted strobe and the rear strobe went off fairly consistently.
I’ve been wanting to get shots in the Cathedral with good off camera lighting for some time and it was nice to finally get a step closer to that goal. These aren’t the photos that mean I never have to go back. But they are a huge step above the images I’ve previously managed in the same space, and they finally start to do justice to the beauty of the site.