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Blackwater dives and filming


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#1 Davide DB

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 03:19 AM

Hi all,

There's a lot of fuss and hype about blackwater diving nowadays.
All topics I found are about photography. Nothing on video.
I came across few videos on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/oK_NzXbD1PI


https://youtu.be/UiOGX8Aix9U


I even found an interesting video made here in Italy:

https://youtu.be/pcRuQZhbaEE

Looking at the PBS teaser I see an interesting configuration. The guy has two Sola 4000 each in front of the other straight in front of the camera. He "simply" put the critter between the lights. Maybe with this conf he can even prefocus.

On the PBS video the guy has some light orthogonal to the lens lighting a self made piping...


So here are my questions.
Which lens and gear are best suited for blackwater filming?

Last but not the least... Has anyone ever organized a blackwater dive?
I find only tips on photograph critters. I have a boat and I would like to organize one.
Disclaimer: Your new gear will not make you produce any better art than you already do.
https://vimeo.com/bocio/

#2 EvilOtter

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:16 PM

There is one dive op in Roatan that regularly organizes Blackwater dives. I have a number of photographer friends who have taken some incredible and unique photos, mostly of small invertebrates rising out of the Cayman Trough. I understand that large pelagics are also sighted on these trips, although less frequently.

I have some concern that the use of constant video lights could be an attractant for curious predators. While this is not something that I am normally worried about, I might have a different view of the matter while dangling on a 60-foot tether in the inky blackness over 2 km of ocean. If you give it a shot, please let me know how it works out for you! :D

Scuba Diving Adventures in Roatán, Honduras

Please visit my YouTube channel: Fish Nerd Films


#3 Davide DB

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:34 PM

I don't get you.
What's the difference between video lights and lights deployed on the rope and divelights and focus lights of each diver?

YouTube and Vimeo are plenty of blackwater and bonfire style videos but I don't find any tips.
Disclaimer: Your new gear will not make you produce any better art than you already do.
https://vimeo.com/bocio/

#4 Tom_Kline

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 01:34 PM

The way blackwater dives are done at Kona, Hawaii there are no lights other than the ones held by the divers and a deck light used for gearing up (this may get turned off when everyone is in the water but the captain). Lights are used, however, for other blackwater operations - maybe the top source of light in some of the vids linked above.

 

Diver held lights are enough to attract squid and dolphins feeding on the squid on some dives from my experience. Potentially sharks too but I have yet to see one. I have seen vids being done on a few of the bw dives I have been on in Kona - the lights were attached to brackets in the usual way, e.g. Ultralight arms and trays. I have also seen a Gopro used with lighting provided by a handheld light (bright one provided by the boat - which I always refuse as all mine are attached to the housing but I am only doing stills).


Edited by Tom_Kline, 03 September 2018 - 01:34 PM.

Thomas C. Kline, Jr., Ph. D.
Oceanography & Limnology
Currently used housed digital cameras: Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, EOS-1D MkIV, and EOS-1DX; and Nikon D3X. More or less retired: Canon EOS-1Ds MkII; and Nikon D1X, D2X, and D2H.

Lens focal lengths ranging from 8 to 200mm for UW use. Seacam housings and remote control gear. Seacam 60D, 150D, and 250D, Sea&Sea YS250, and Inon Z220 strobes.

http://www.salmonography.com/

 


#5 Pajjpen

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 01:01 AM

From what I’ve heard from talking and reading about bw video it seems that the critters are generally too small (100mm+ macro ff equivalent required) to get a good video due to shakiness and keeping the subject in the frame for some time, getting focus right etc.

Edited by Pajjpen, 06 September 2018 - 04:40 AM.


#6 Davide DB

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 04:50 AM

BW dives remain a mystery to me :P I'm getting suggestion on everything and its opposite.

 

 

All photo tutorials I found (and even some thread here on WP) suggest the 60mm lens as the best lens being 100mm too big. Maybe 60mm on crop sensor?

Looking to videos like these:

 

 

 

I can find microscopic crrtters as squids or large sinophors. I don't have a zoom so I'm really on the fence which lens I should bring.

 

Maybe next monday night I will try. We are organizing a BW for the first time. I'll let you know.

 

Bye


Disclaimer: Your new gear will not make you produce any better art than you already do.
https://vimeo.com/bocio/

#7 Tom_Kline

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 01:41 PM

I know of at least one well know bw photographer that used a 60mm with APS-C for stills. I have used from 50 to 100mm with full frame DSLRs for my bw shots. You can see the lens used in the exif data on my website pix by clicking on the tiny dot with the i in it next to the buy button (this is Smugmug styling). These bw shots are mostly in my invertebrate gallery (under Aloha!) but there are a few in the fish portrait gallery as well.

 

The main downside of the 100mm lens IMHO is when you get a large creature like a big jelly - one of the vids above showed a large ctenophore in front of a diver that I have seen as well - I ended up just getting close-ups of part of it using a 100mm. Most of the stuff is much smaller, e.g., 1 to 2 cm length or diameter. One can use either lens (normal or 100). And there is smaller still - the dots you see moving around in the vids: copepods and amphipods.

 

On my most recent HI trip I used a D3X with a 60mm AFS lens (Canon does not make a counterpart as their 50 is rather old and does not allow switching between MF and AF within one dive which is one reason I favored the 100 with C). Even with the 60 I was not able to get an entire box jellyfish in the pic (see my gallery header shot). Keep in mind I was shooting stills and using an OVF. Shooting vids with a back screen is going to be a different experience. The vids I have seen being shot were with rather small housings or a Gopro so short focal lengths were used (i.e. small format cameras).


Thomas C. Kline, Jr., Ph. D.
Oceanography & Limnology
Currently used housed digital cameras: Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, EOS-1D MkIV, and EOS-1DX; and Nikon D3X. More or less retired: Canon EOS-1Ds MkII; and Nikon D1X, D2X, and D2H.

Lens focal lengths ranging from 8 to 200mm for UW use. Seacam housings and remote control gear. Seacam 60D, 150D, and 250D, Sea&Sea YS250, and Inon Z220 strobes.

http://www.salmonography.com/

 


#8 Pajjpen

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Posted 08 September 2018 - 01:13 PM

I know of at least one well know bw photographer that used a 60mm with APS-C for stills. I have used from 50 to 100mm with full frame DSLRs for my bw shots. You can see the lens used in the exif data on my website pix by clicking on the tiny dot with the i in it next to the buy button (this is Smugmug styling). These bw shots are mostly in my invertebrate gallery (under Aloha!) but there are a few in the fish portrait gallery as well.
 
The main downside of the 100mm lens IMHO is when you get a large creature like a big jelly - one of the vids above showed a large ctenophore in front of a diver that I have seen as well - I ended up just getting close-ups of part of it using a 100mm. Most of the stuff is much smaller, e.g., 1 to 2 cm length or diameter. One can use either lens (normal or 100). And there is smaller still - the dots you see moving around in the vids: copepods and amphipods.
 
On my most recent HI trip I used a D3X with a 60mm AFS lens (Canon does not make a counterpart as their 50 is rather old and does not allow switching between MF and AF within one dive which is one reason I favored the 100 with C). Even with the 60 I was not able to get an entire box jellyfish in the pic (see my gallery header shot). Keep in mind I was shooting stills and using an OVF. Shooting vids with a back screen is going to be a different experience. The vids I have seen being shot were with rather small housings or a Gopro so short focal lengths were used (i.e. small format cameras).

We all know bw still shooting is indeed a thing but what OP was asking about was video, which is a lot harder for bw and in general imo.

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