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Buoyancy advice for starting uw photography

Discussion in 'The Olympus Outlet' started by ksporry, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. supergaijin

    supergaijin Dive Shop

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    +1 for using whatever you have around you for stabilising yourself- with the understanding that sand/silt can ruin shots for yourself and others. Common sense is the key.

    The OP has a big rig with dual strobes- in my humble opinion you should strip it back and shoot without the strobes, stay shallow to maximise ambient light and learn how to take effective shallow water (<30') shots before complicating things (a lot) with having to sort out strobe positioning.
     
  2. gert7to3

    gert7to3 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northwest Michigan now, formerly Chicago
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    Underwater photography is like strafing a moving target with a blimp.

    A photographic restraint I imposed upon myself was STINAPA's Bonaire principle: no contact. As my buoyancy skills developed I was able to get closer to my subjects. If you can't line up properly without touching or moving stuff around, don't take the photo.

    Nothing bothers me so much as watching a bunch of "photographers" swarming a gorgonian with a seahorse wrapped around its base.
     
    fisheater and Gdog like this.
  3. chris196

    chris196 Nassau Grouper

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    Location: Austin, TX
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    Another thing besides not bumping into the reef is being considerate of other divers whether they be photographers or not.
    If a dive master or another diver has spotted something, then get in there take a very few photos and get out.
    Don't keep others from it.
    Now, if you found it, photograph it first, then call others over.
     
  4. Gdog

    Gdog Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lacey, Washington
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    I love that! Mind if I use if for a tag line??!
     
  5. Ardy

    Ardy Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Australia - Blue Mountains
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    Just to back up my suggestion to the OP. If you are diving in a place like Lembeh you are going to grow a bunch of people who hate you by kneeling in the muck [could also pick up a nasty spine to the knee]. On the barrier reef where the sand is commonplace it is not such an issue, you might reduce your viz but in clean sand a min or 2 and it will clear enough to take decent photo's.

    TS&M -It is unreasonable to ask a [poss. young] person who has just invested a lot of money in a new camera rig to leave it at home for 3 months whilst they get their buoyancy right. As someone posted above buoyancy is not an easy task and the bigger you are the harder it is.

    All I am saying is many here would own a dingy or yacht and never give a thought to throwing an anchor into the sand. Or walking through the waves to go snorkelling yet you want to either ban the guy from using his equipment or force him to stay a long way away from his subject until he can get his buoyancy right. Many divers I see have never got theirs right in many years of diving. Even some of the excellent divers I have dived with still practice theirs on ascent.
     
    Reck Diver likes this.
  6. gert7to3

    gert7to3 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northwest Michigan now, formerly Chicago
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    Gdog, be my guest.
     
  7. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

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    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
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    Ardy, you bring up some good points....and I agree that walking out in the surf zone of a beach, is not going to be significantly destructive to any life we can deal with....The issue to me is that the new diver ( with camera) most likely was trained by an instructor at a defective level for initial certification--they got a C-card with poor bouancy skills.....Now with poor skills, they can't really operate properly without the camera....They will typically be silting whenever they are near the bottom or not, and they will have no sense of what proper weighting is. This kind of person may not damage significant life when they kneel in the sand next to a coral head...but they will learn and adopt a "stand on the bottom/kneel on the bottom" strategy for much more than just pictures. This is a bad mindset, and it should be nipped in the bud. It should have started with NOT kneeling in the sand for drills in the Open Water class--one of the most irresponsible, money over what's right Instructional philosophies by several large training agencies---the identities of which are quite obvious :)

    On the other hand......you can find world class photographers, with perfect buoyancy skills, that will see a shot that calls for becoming one with the bottom to get their Nat Geo shot....most that I have seen do this, are very aware of how to do this without inflicting damage to marine life....some shots are more like tripod shots, and even a Jerod Jablonski is not going to be able to hover with a 100 mm lens and diopter, in shooting a Nudibranch....it would be a low percentage shot if he tried...and if the objective was macro video, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to do without what would appear as a jerky video.

    Part of learning the ideal buoyancy skills, is being aware of WHERE the bottom is, and how to avoid impacting it where it is delicate....those with poor skills, never seem to be aware of any damage they do.
     
  8. Ardy

    Ardy Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Australia - Blue Mountains
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    Dan - I agree that the level of training that a c-card brings with it is mostly very low these days. Buoyancy and navigation is close to zero yet they are important things for a new diver. We had a young couple killed a few years ago who were both < 20 dives, over weighted and ran out of air trying to make the surface. This sort of thing should never happen even to a new diver. Few of the new divers I get stuck with know how to set their weight properly and make a guess, they hope they don't either bounce off the bottom or do the duck! thing.
     
    danvolker likes this.
  9. ksporry

    ksporry Nassau Grouper

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    Ok, so I decided to put a reaction down. I see people here who seem to think it's ridiculous to dive with a camera without 100+ dives, and people who think that idea is ridiculous.
    But what I find mostly is that, although ALL of you have VERY good points, this discussion seems mostly a pissing contest, which honestly helps no one, least of all beginners.

    First of all, I do not think that it is reasonable to assume someone with 100+ dives is a more responsible diver than someone with 10+ dives. Believe me, I read some disaster stories in Dive mags about people who've been diving quite a bit. Stories that even make newbees go "WTF???"...
    And although you usually don't hear of this, there are also some talented divers out there, that seem to be real naturals when it comes to diving. So honestly, without knowing the diver, you cannot judge his/her skills. And this is exactly why many dive masters and instructors want to check out divers new to them.

    So, I'm going to tell a little bit about myself, so you can get an idea of how responsible I am, and how well I do in estimating situations.
    I am an aeronautical engineer, a pretty conservative one, and a damn good one. I tend to err on the safe side of activities when it comes to development of new systems, and when I predict a future situation that no one wants to put a risk in for, you can bet your arse I am right, 100 % proven without bragging.
    I used to take flying lessons. Apparently I had a reputation amongst the club's instructors of being responsible. Some instructors would only teach certain things because they trusted me never to do those myself (and I haven't).
    I never lie, and never cheat. It's just who I am. Makes me a bad trader, makes me a bad lawyer, makes me a bad a lot of things. It's a good thing I'm an engineer.
    It's true I only have about 22 dives now on my counter. But I am VERY much aware of my abilities and the situation I put myself in. I always go through the checklists, frequently do my air and depth checks, keep an eye on my buddy and the divemaster/instructor. I also always keep an eye on everyone else in the group. I never put myself, my buddy, or aquatic life at risk just because I want to see it. If I feel it is tricky for me to get close, I don't.

    So, if anyone wants to call me irresponsible, I'm sorry, but I'll call you arrogant and daft.

    As for photography, I have been at it for 25 years, so I know my way around cameras. Ok, I admit, I don't have a digital compact. I only have worked with semi-pro SLRs, mirrorless cameras, rangefinders, Medium format cameras, TLRs, and Large Format Cameras, oh, and film compacts.

    As for statements about "not c-card worthy", well, I guess you need to complain with your own instructors, PADI, and/or SSI, or whoever you learned to dive with for their lack of professionalism and knowledge. Honestly, I disagree. There is a minimum standard for certain skills, which is exactly what the courses and specialties teach you. Sure, they are not perfect. But they do give you a good start. A good instructor does not let you pass if he/she does not feel that you fully know the skills that you need. Unfortunately I also know some instructors and schools care more about profit than teaching actual skills. Luckily for me my teachers have always been responsible and professional. They take their work serious. So please don't diss my instructors.
    When I did my DUP specialty I was corrected for the dive techniques I was doing wrong, and instructed on how to improve those. That's what the course does: teach you...

    Now, I posted my original question to get advice on techniques that I could practise, but besides the 8 out of 10 responses that tell me I am not a good enough diver to handle a camera before I reach 100+ dives, I have heard very little about actual knowledge on how to improve buoyancy or directional controls whilst operating a camera under water.
    You could have posted some youtube clips that show fin techniques, or given some advice how to adjust things. No one here explained the effect on your buoyancy if your camera is negatively buoyant (or positively buoyant). No one explained that you can use a pointer stick to hold your distance from a reef or wall whilst composing your shot.
    No one mentioned that there are actually UW photography workshops that help you develop your skills as a diver and UW photographer, or where they are located.

    So... in the time that some of you were not answering my original question, I browsed the rest of the internet for advice on UW photography for beginners. And guess what I found: There are courses/workshops all over the world that teach you the skills you need as a diver to do UW photography! Can you imagine that?!? And guess what, I will be attending one of those with Underwater Tribe on Bali during Christmas! Oh, and look! There are books from Martin Edge and Co. that teach UW photography. Oh wait, there is more, he also teaches those same courses on workshops that you can enroll for! Wait, I see something... oh my, OH MY, its YOUTUBE, with CLIPS that show FIN TECHNIQUES...
    There is more. The city I live in actually has...swimming pool that can be used to practise those fin techniques!

    I'm sorry for my somewhat arsy and sarcastic last paragraph, but "no it can't be done, and since I have 200+ dives I know what I am saying" is a bit too arrogant for me. I guess it separates the master from the ace. The ace only "does" whereas the master "teaches".

    Someone said that I was wrong to say "when you take a camera for the first time, your buoyancy will be bad", but we all know that no matter your experience, when you handle a camera under water for the first time, your buoyancy control will ALWAYS be worse than without the camera.
    I saw a good statement on facebook that I may use as my handle: "so you are saying I need experience before I can get experience?".
    What that means is that you don't learn until you do. Of course some of you will now scream bloody murder, and they do have a point: you should have got a descent control of your buoyancy before grabbing a camera under water. But to the point of some others: you only learn by doing.

    Being a beginner does not automatically mean being a poor diver. It might be true, but not automatically...

    So, let's please all get along, and help each other becoming better divers without the pissing contest shall we?
     
    jbb likes this.
  10. danvolker

    danvolker Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
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    You mean you did not know that most of the content here was pissing contest and argument? In any event, I suggested putting floats on your camera early in the thread..that a neutral camera rig was critical.
    And here is a video I created that you should check out...It is of a friend of mine showing photographers the proper buoyancy and trim and kick techniques for their art. This is a GUE instructor.....this one just trained 2 non-divers a month ago to become OW divers in one week. The GUE OW cert left them better at Buoyancy and trim and photo techniques than 95% of the divers we see at the Blue Heron Bridge Marine Park every week ! ( actually that is not saying much :)

    [video=youtube_share;kWrlXJ_EL_k]http://youtu.be/kWrlXJ_EL_k[/video]
     
    Ardy and ksporry like this.

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