After our very pleasant jaunt through DD31, Moo and I headed over to Tank Cave for the rest of the Australia Day weekend. It was good to see a whole bunch of freshly minted Advanced Cave divers working through their first group dives with enthusiasm. Tim and I left the gold lines to them and headed down the back of the cave. I was on the rEvo but Tim was back on open circuit and carrying a couple of large stages in addition to his sidemounts. The rEvo makes a big difference to photography in Tank, as once I’m in the right spot I can take more than a couple of different angles without worrying about my bubbles disturbing silt off the ceiling above. On open circuit the silt gently builds up in the water around me. It’s not enough to upset visibility but it does show up in the photos. Photographing on closed circuit is a much more relaxed experience.
I’ve taken more than a few photos in Tank and spent the drive over from Drik Drik to Mt Gambier thinking about photographic opportunities that didn’t repeat shots I already had. Having a model on open circuit made me think about lighting the bubbles in the way I had previously done in Weebubbie. This was a strategy accidentally discovered when Stefan tilted the hand holding the strobe behind his back at exactly the right angle. I attempted to recreate it with a fixed strobe on backmounts last year without that much success. The light never seemed to be in quite the right position to hit the bubble trail.
In this case I think sidemounts helped, getting the backmounted strobe down closer to the body. I then spent the first few photos of the dive trying to time Tim’s breathing exactly right. Too soon, and the bubbles were still in front of his face. Too late, and they had escaped into the ceiling. I also needed to get the camera even with or lower than the model to ensure the back mounted strobe was hidden as it was pointing back towards the camera.
In addition to the bubble light I had an off camera strobe on each sidemounted tank and two strobes on the camera. It took a bit of fiddling to get the right balance here. The bubble strobe is on half power as at full power it was blowing things out. The sidemounted strobes are both on full power for maximum light down the tunnel behind. And the camera strobes are on quarter and half power to try and get that softly lighted foreground and balance out the light fall off from the off cameras. Overall I was very happy with the lighting achieved in both of these shots. The crystal clear water of Tank Cave and Tim’s excellent in-water control don’t hurt either. And it shows that even with what must be coming up to 100 photo dives in Tank Cave, there are still new shots to be taken and new angles to be found.