West End Divers' Best Of May 2018

We have had some incredible examples of underwater pictures taken over the past few months here at WED. If you have been following our blogs and you have been checking out the Roatan Marine Park Photo contest selections, you probably already noticed some familiar shots. Now it is your turn! Start planning your next holiday and plan to bring your camera with you! Who knows, you may get that epic shot and take on next year’s photo contests!

Nowadays it is relatively inexpensive to own an underwater camera, so naturally more people want to take one along with them on their dives.

But what do you really need to know before to bring a camera underwater?

  Photo: Mickey Charteris

Photo: Mickey Charteris

No matter if your camera is a GoPro, a compact camera or a whole professional rig, manipulating a camera system can be incredibly distracting, as your attention shifts from concentrating on your diving skills, equipment, and environment to complete focus on the camera, and photo opportunities. Cameras can turn even highly experienced divers into clumsy novices

For us, Divemasters and Instructors leading dives, it is common to see new underwater photographer, paying less attention to their instruments, particularly their dive computer and air pressure gauge. They often get distracted by fish they want to photograph and forget to check their depths and No Decompression Limits as they are maneuvering for their shots, sometimes ending up over 30 feet or more below, or above their dive guide and group.

Last observation, but not the least: Buoyancy can get out of control sometimes and the safety of coral reef and marine life gets compromised. Sadly we often see divers with underwater cameras taking a photo of something while resting their fins on some coral for stability… or even laying down entirely on a coral patch.

  Photo: Mickey Charteris

Photo: Mickey Charteris

Practicing good buoyancy is the key to being responsible and safe underwater. Why???

First because Coral takes years to centuries to grow! They are fragile animals that require our undivided attention and respect while diving. The pursuit of an image is no longer considered justification for damaging the underwater landscape.

And second because erratic swimming tends to scare the fish off, making them unapproachable to you, and other divers. Remember that we are visitors to the underwater realm, and it is so easy to get focused on trying to get that shot, but it can also be very easy to stress an animal by getting in its personal space.

Mastering your buoyancy is the first skill that any professional underwater photographer or videographer needs, but it is not that easy, it needs practice

First; you need to learn how much weight is required to make yourselves neutrally buoyant. Also,  good repartition of your weight has a huge impact on your buoyancy control. Take the time to study the different features of your BCD, trim pockets, weight pockets or the use of a weigh belt. Try different repartition of your weights, and also take in consideration what you are wearing (skin suit, 3 mm or 5 mm wetsuit) and how heavy your camera is because it can completely change your trim.

  Photo: Kal Lin

Photo: Kal Lin

Second; remember when you first started diving, you were kicking inefficiently, sculling, not yet comfortable in controlling your movements?  You need to be streamlined, secure all your hoses and extra accessories with your arms and hands folded, and your body horizontal.  Remember to breathe continuously, be conscious of your breathing and move slow, with efficient and effective fin kicks. With practice we can learn to use our breath and fins to ascend and descend, hold position and accelerate

  Photo: Mickey Charteris

Photo: Mickey Charteris

Third; it is time to learn to work with your hands in a proper and responsible way. Be able to hold a camera steady at the angle needed to create a nice composition.  Don’t forget that subjects are not always in a perfect spot, you will need to master your buoyancy in many different body positions. Practice focusing and composing potential images while maintaining buoyancy.

Last note; good buoyancy control not only allows you to hover, and hold any position without undue body movement; it also will reduce your air consumption which means more bottom time to compose that perfect shot. 

For more information on  Peak Buoyancy Courses, or more details on underwater photography courses contact us. We can tailor make courses to suit your needs.

 

Thanks to all the underwater photographers: Steve and Jeanie Zedekar, Kal Lin and Mickey Charteris for sharing this month their work and always amazed us with new find or artistic pictures. Kudos to Billy Wootten for completing his Underwater Photography Course, and sharing his pictures too.

Share and Enjoy!!