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Taking pictures and touching things ... thoughts

Discussion in 'Underwater Photography' started by kimbalabala, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. kimbalabala

    kimbalabala Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St Louis
    I am PADI trained and I have the "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING" so ingrained in my head that I'm literally rolling my eyes at myself if I suspect that a fin tip may have touched something by accident - I feel SO stupid! I have 135 dives and my dive instructor has said that I have good buoyancy - but I'll keep working to improve it as long as I dive. With that in mind, when I'm taking pictures I take great care to be aware of where all of my body parts and equipment are so that I'm not damaging the reef structure (or my buddy!). Having the buoyancy to take the picture and get great photos is a challenge and I love it when I get a great shot! However ... I was watching a youtube of someone in Cozumel taking pictures and she was using one hand to hold on to a coral head (I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she probably placed her hand strategically so as not to damage anything) while she took the picture. What went through my mind was that her actions weren't in keeping with the challenge - heck, anyone could get a good shot on dry land or by holding onto something. I love to watch the owner of my LDS when she's taking pictures - she's got great buoyancy and relies on that to maintain her position in the water.

    Am I being overly rigid in my thinking? Is it ok to strategically hold on to something to get that great picture? Honestly, the way that marine life camouflage I'd be a bit fearful of putting my fingers anywhere without gloves on - and many of the places we dive don't allow gloves.

    Looking forward to your responses. :)
  2. mjh

    mjh Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Seattle
    kimbalabala and dhaas like this.
  3. KDAD

    KDAD Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Northern New Jersey
    A lot of places don't allow gloves for the very reason that a diver may be more prone to grabbing onto things. Also, if divers get into the habit of touching things they may continue that practice while near more sensitive creatures or adversely influence other divers .

    With that said, I think as responsible stewards of the waters that we dive in, it is incumbent upon us to exercise a great degree of care in what we do touch, such as just using a finger tip to push off of rock only if really needed. As a photographer, it is incumbent upon us to have our bouyancy (and fin kicks) down so that grabbing stuff is not needed.

    I don't think that you are being overly rigid in your thinking. A non-picture taking diver has the luxury of looking at a subject and drifting off as needed. A photographer has to remain in position until the shot is right. That takes mastery of bouyancy and fin kicks. Not only is it part of the challenge, it is more like a prerequisite
  4. Manneca

    Manneca Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Memphis (TN, not, unfortunately Egypt)
    I did Cathy Church's Photo Fest in Grand Cayman. Her advice over and over again was that you have to steady yourself to take a good picture. Grab a piece of dead coral. Kneel in the sand. Just saying. . .
  5. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    In a lot of circumstances and conditions, you can take excellent photographs without touching anything. You need very good skills, but they're definitely achievable.

    In strong surge, or in current, that may not be possible. You have to make a choice between foregoing the shot, and doing something to establish stability. Putting a finger on bare rock, or on sand (be careful it's not inhabited sand!) if it's carefully done, has minimal impact on the environment. When we were doing muck diving in current, we used metal sticks that minimized the contact area. In Bunaken, in Indonesia, the dive guides had those sticks, and would carefully steady themselves, and allow the photographers to use THEM for stabilization.

    If there is no way to achieve enough immobility to get the shot without damaging something, I, personally, would eschew the picture.
  6. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 PADI Pro

    Would like to give a difference perspective as I am an instructor hence I want to preserve marine life very much

    This is an extract from PADI peak performance buoyancy manual open water dive 2:

    Practice the following: 1) One-finger push-offs pretend the bottom of the pool is a dead portion of a reef and practice pushing off with one finger.

    In general terms nothing is so black and white. Coral is made of polyps it is not true that if you touch one part of it the whole coral colony dies. Some of the coral in fact can be touched and it does not even sting and nothing happens to it anyway. Some corals actually reproduce when you fragments by migrating to another part of the reef and colonizing it.

    Other myths include that people with bad buoyancy kick silt on the coral and that makes it die too, well fish poo on the coral all the time a turtle eats coral and definitely messes it up when trying to bite into it but everything is just fine.

    I have been diving in the galapagos and there you hang on to barnacles that are very sharp and whilst you are at it you break a few, this is not by the book but the ranger explains they reproduce very fast and there is abundance of them so no worries.

    I went on a workshop recently and whilst I was laying on the sand to take a picture my fin was pulled by a dive guide on my same boat as I should not lay on the bottom, the guide did not trust that I actually looked where I was putting my knees. Afterwards he told me I did it in four occasions and in one I actually kick a piece of coral he had a gopro so I asked to see the specific part where that happened but then when he came up he told me his whole memory card had accidentally been cancelled.

    Metal sticks don't make it right either I have seen someone stabbing a flounder with one of those it was quite hilarious.The general sentiment is correct and not many people know the difference between live coral and a rock so if in doubt do not touch anything but we should trust divers to know what they are doing especially if they appear to have good buoyancy and seem to be hanging on the rock deliberately.

    One thing that instead I really don't like is people making composition with marine life, ie lets put those 3 nudibranchs together or lets move this fish out of crack so we can take better pictures. This has is totally stupid as the animal is more evolved than a coral polyps and handling can cause severe distress and even death. i consider that equivalent to riding a turtle and making it drown
    dhaas and agilis like this.
  7. Allison Finch

    Allison Finch Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    I have no problems putting a finger on a piece of dead strata. Or, to put my pointer stick carefully into the bare sand and use it while mt eye is concentrating through the viewfinder. ANYTHING to keep me from having to use any finning while being unable to use my peripheral vision to see. Even people with the best buoyancy, and I consider myself very good in this regard, lose track of their fins when doing this. I would rather steady myself on a piece of dead structure that risk any possibility of damage. Surge and current are especially times to do this. Sometimes it takes me a moment or two to find a suitable place to put one finger tip.
  8. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

    I also have a guilt complex if I think I touched anything but sand. A photograph/camera is not an excuse. You are definitly correct not to touch and it is definitly bad form and wrong. But perfection is not possible, however, since we photogs are often maneuvering very close to the reef an extra level of care and skill and discipline is expected or should be. And I do know where my fins are, they are on my feet and my feet and legs are up and away from the reef. If you/I cannot get the shot without touching then I recommend not taking the shot.

    dhaas likes this.
  9. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    ... it boils down to responsible behavior. If you have the skills and knowledge to know what effects your touching will have, and act responsibly, you don't need rules that start with the word "Never" ... use your brain, it's why God gave you one. If you lack the skills, or don't know much about the effects of touching something, then use the rules that start with the word "Never" ... that's why the dive agencies gave you those ...

    As a personal preference, I'm not a big fan of blanket rules that people want to apply to all situations ... it reduces your need to engage your brain while diving, and that tends to produce less than desirable side-effects ...

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  10. kimbalabala

    kimbalabala Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St Louis
    I think I'll stick with the "if I can't get the shot using buoyancy adjustments then I'll forego the shot". Again, for me it's also about the challenge - and sometimes I have to mutter a "dang it" into my regulator as I watch a great shot pass by. But there will always be more dives to try again ... :wink:

    Thanks everyone!
    Nemrod likes this.

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