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Buoyancy advice for starting uw photography

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

  1. Matt S.

    Matt S. Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kirkland, WA
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    Fisheater's advice in the very first reply is still the best. OK, you're a good diver. Practice until you can do all the skills he listed. When you can do things like the back kick you won't even need to poke the reef to get the shot.

    If you need help finding videos and a place to practice I am sure that can happen.

    The only bad attitude I saw here was yours, OP. You're scolding the people who are, believe it or not, trying to help and offering advice that they believe in.
     
    fisheater likes this.
  2. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

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    Thank you, ksporry, for that blast. I realize I was one of the people who, instead of giving you constructive advice, simply told you to wait. You are right; that isn't very helpful.

    I assume you have found the 5thD-X videos on YouTube (and Dan's video also gives you a visual). Good horizontal trim helps to keep your fins out of the sediment, which reduces the particulates to cause backscatter. Kicks like helicopter and back kicks allow you to follow a subject, but the basis for all of this is being able to sit perfectly still in the water. This requires both control of body posture and balancing of equipment. THIS article has some good information on setting up body posture for stability, and the article on the same site on horizontal trim expands the ideas.

    Of course, once you add a camera to the mix, you have upset the applecart. If the camera is not neutral, then holding it out in front of you gives it a fairly long lever arm to affect your stability in the water -- so even small deviations from neutral can have surprisingly large effects. My camera is very slightly negative, so that it will hang beneath me rather than floating up over my head (where I can't see what mischief it is getting into). Even this slight amount of weight, when held out at arm's length, has put my trim off, and since I began using the camera, I have to work hard not to go a little head-up to compensate. You can see the problem here:

    [​IMG]

    It's not a big issue when we're in midwater, as where that photo was taken, but becomes far more of one when shooting very close to the bottom. Many of our macro subjects in Puget Sound are bottom-dwellers, so it's very relevant to us to keep the sediments undisturbed.

    So, although it's often desirable to have the camera SLIGHTLY negative, it's a good idea to add floats until it is only VERY slightly negative, so that you aren't trying to cope with a very large lever arm.

    The second huge problem that photographers have is situational awareness. No matter who you are or how you are trained, you WILL dive into the viewfinder and lose awareness of your surroundings for a period of time. What's really important is to be aware of the passing of that time, and not allowing it to become overly long (unless, of course, you are solo diving). In a target-rich environment, it's also possible to get so excited and distracted that you forget important things like checking depth and gas pressure. The way to deal with this is to build in a VERY strong and habitual sweep of the important information of the dive -- one of my instructors gave me the mantra, "What's my depth? Where's my buddy? Look at the fish . . . " and although simplistic, it's the basic idea. Discipline yourself to check your depth, time, position in the water, relation to buddy or other divers (or guide), and pressure at determined intervals. You will eventually get to where you start to "itch" if you haven't done your sweep for too long . . . I can only hunker down on a subject for so long before I have to look up and see what is going on around me.

    In addition, dedicated photo dives can be set up to where the buddy or buddies are aware that the photographer's purpose for being there is to shoot, and they are diving support -- scouting for critters, providing off-axis lighting, or working as models. In that case, the buddies may assume some of the situational awareness responsibilities for the photographer. But nobody else will ever be checking YOUR gas!

    I think the reason I was so negative at the beginning is that most of these skills take time to ingrain. You are very right in saying that handling a camera can really show you the weak spots in your basic diving skills -- we actually encourage AOW students to do an underwater photography dive for this very reason! It does complicate getting your posture and trim right, though, when you are deliberately perturbing it before you've gotten it right without the camera, so progress may be quite a bit slower.

    Thank you for pulling me up short. Your post will change the way I answer this type of question in the future.
     
    SantaFeSandy, ksporry and danvolker like this.
  3. ksporry

    ksporry Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
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    Thanks guys, I'm sorry that sounded as a rant. I do appreciate your inputs. Especially the last couple of posts are very informative (for me at least).

    One thing I'd like to mention why i think providing actual guidance on how to do something instead of saying not to do it is more beneficial; many people will ignore advice that says "don't do it". It's like children growing up. Parents may tell them not to touch the hot stove, but they do it anyway. It's human nature (and some people are better in resisting such an urge than others).

    So I think if advice is give how to do something, at least it is more likely a beginner will practise the techniques first, rather than take the jump without knowing what they should learn first. And as such, I do appreciate explanations of techniques etc from all of you :)

    Again, I apologise for shooting off like I did and I apologise to anyone I may have offended by that.
     
  4. jbb

    jbb Photographer

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
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    Excellent, well deserved but as another said here this on-line forum is often just a series of "pissing" matches. I'm glad you have such depth of experience with cameras. If at least one aspect of your underwater experience is well versed which lets you pay attention to that which you are less familiar. I see others have already posted some more useful information and others apparently wouldn't walk thru the woods or a desert for fear of stepping on a slug or bug. I know I have bumped along the bottom myself at times so I try not to cast stones and probably should have taken some skill classes along the way. And so, I think this post is considered "pissing" - ;-)
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
    ksporry likes this.
  5. ksporry

    ksporry Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
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    At least it's not into the wind heheh ;-)
     
  6. Tigerman

    Tigerman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Norway
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    If you (have to) drop the camera it should be attaced to you and hang safely without needing more attention...
     
  7. SantaFeSandy

    SantaFeSandy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: North Central Florida
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    What type of environment are you diving and photographing in, i.e., ocean, drift dive, spring, cavern, cave?

    Are you diving in steel or aluminum? What mm and type of suit/skin? What other equipment are you taking down with you, and how much weight are you packing, if any? Have you ever tried freediving with your camera rig? How often do you dive? How deep have you dove? Any night dives? Any swimthroughs?

    Also, has anybody taught you yet about trim? Where do you have your tank positioned on your BCD in relation to your body? Are your legs prone to be down or up?

    "Cavern courses" teach you about trim more thoroughly. I recommend them.

    Check out some of my own photography on www.sandrakosterphotography.com or www.flickr.com/santafesandy/sets/

    ---------- Post added October 30th, 2013 at 10:25 AM ----------


    Very nice and informative reply! :)
     
  8. chris196

    chris196 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Austin, TX
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    Ok, now can you imagine a situation where the camera is impeding you from helping yourself or someone else and must be detached in order to perform life saving techniques.
    You better know how to get rid of it and whether you'll go up or down.
     
  9. Tigerman

    Tigerman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Norway
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    That apply to all your gear and if youll go DOWN dropping it, that might be a bad idea. If dropping the camera would make you positive, dropping a weight could be a better option. However if youre properly weighted it should also be a non-issue. (Said the guy diving a big (and expensive) dslr setup)

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk
     
  10. ksporry

    ksporry Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
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    It seems to me that for balancing/trim/buoyancy reasons, especially in cases of emergency when you need to drop your camera gear, that it is important to ensure your camera setup is close to neutral, so that the effect on your buoyancy and trim doesn't change significantly when you need to ditch it. The added benefits would be that you can do your buoyancy checks and trims without camera considerations, and reduced body strain under water (I think some of the others pointed that out earlier).

    For me, I can't wait to start that course in Bali, and learn more about how to handle my setup under water :)
     

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