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What dive qualification?


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#41 ce4jesus

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 09:11 AM

"find it a bit strange that almost everybody here seems to think that qualifications are a waste of time"

While some certainly are -insert my AOW cert here- others are not. The message I'm reading here is you can't judge a diver by their plastic. So the initial question of what level of certification should a diver be before they start underwater photography would be better phrased a different way. A diver should be comfortable with their diving skills to the depth they are planning to dive with a camera. For some people that may be right away yet others it may take quite awhile, still others ... maybe never.
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#42 LChan

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:04 AM

I think it's a shame when divers judge other divers by how deep they have been, it's like unzipping your pants to compare eel sizes. I barely ever tell anyone how deep I have been, it's like killing someone .. if you've done it you don't talk about it.


this brings up a good point for all of you.
Don't tell your insurance company how deep you go.

I know people who have been denied life insurance or had to pay hefty premiums for "risky behavior". Medical insurance might be the same way. I always tell people I go to 60 ft.... Over 100 ft puts you into the "risky" category.
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#43 loftus

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:29 AM

Hey James,
What's this 'Rocket surgery' you speak of. Is it a combination of Rocket science and Brain surgery? :blink:
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#44 kriptap

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:30 AM

What a can or worms you opened Alex! :blink:

#45 fdog

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:01 AM

Hey James,
What's this 'Rocket surgery' you speak of. Is it a combination of Rocket science and Brain surgery? :blink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Indeed it is! Being a combination of the two, it is even more exclusive and technical...

All the best, James

#46 jcfig

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:58 AM

I completely agree that experience and consistent diving are much more important factors than certification level alone.

That said, I have two things I'd like to add regarding training:

1 - Different people learn in different ways -- while many of us are comfortable with self-learning and applying experience as lessons, many do better in an mentor-apprentice or similarly structured environment. The instructor led courses many agencies offer should be designed to mimic that mentor/apprentice experience. Unfortunately, as many here pointed out, many instructors out there do not make very good mentors :)

2 - As UW photographers, many of us tend to push the limits of recreational (or technical as the case may be) diving. If you don't believe that's true, go check out the recent thread regarding dive computers :blink: . As such, it is important - IMHO - that we understand the physiological, environmental and physics aspects of diving and how these affect what we do. As an OW diver I was conscientious enough to realized that what was taught in the course regarding the science of diving was not enough. I took it upon myself to further my education with books and by interacting with knowledgeable divers. Even then, there were things that I didn't know - or had no opportunity to experience in everyday diving - until I went through the DM course.

I am very fortunate to live in the an area where the diving occurs in cold water, low visibility and strong currents. All of my training and most of my experience takes place in this environment. It makes the trips to the nicer destinations all the more enjoyable.

So what level should a diver be before undertaking UW photo? Who knows! Like many things, it is up to the individual and his/her natural skill/experience and drive to improve. But I don't think that training should be discounted as a valid avenue for some to get there. The important is to realize that it is not about collecting cards, but expanding your knowledge.

For the record, I'm not a diving agency rep - sure sound like one on my rant :D

#47 Giles

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 12:10 PM

If we take a look at this list of courses from http://www.tablebaydiving.com/ you can see that there are a load of courses and most are just to make money.
Posted Image

If somebody told me they wanted to be an underwater photographer and they had never dived I would recommend the following:

Open Water
Advanced Open Water (easy and more supervised experience)

Specalities:
Peak performance Bouyancy
Underwater Naturalist
Underwater Navigation (if not covered in Advanced)
and perhaps Enriched Air to teach more about the dangers of Breathing Underwater.

Other specialties may be done as per when they are needed .. but are not essential.

Now these are not going to make up for experience and practice but IMO will set you up for a better foundation of being a good diver.

You have to have is it 80 or 100 dives now to be an instructor .. which is a meaningless quanitfication .. but I would recommend similar amounts of dives before you start burdening yourself with extra gadgets and gizmos.

Unfortunately that looks like a sales list for PADI who even though I have been a Pro member of for years I don't believe does the best job anymore, but haven't taken any courses recently to recommnd anyone else. I'd say you can go with any organisation as long as you think the individual company is reputable and has quality instructors ... I personally don't agree with the getting it done in under 3 days for Open Water .. but they say it's possible nowadays.
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#48 LChan

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 12:53 PM

PADI = Put Another Dollar In.

That is why i oppose many of these certifications, especially the specialist certifications!
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#49 LChan

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 12:58 PM

Part of the problem is that these certification companies are FOR PROFIT!

I have seen some places (especially at resorts) where they are like mills. Give them big $$$, Read this book, do these skills, here is your cert. Also there is no recertification. So, once you are taught poorly, unless someone teaches you better, you will never no or learn.

We have a phrase out here near Monterey. Once you can dive Monterey on a regular basis, you are no longer a "princess diver". With the cold, the surge, kelp, you learn skills that you may never learn in the warm waters.
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#50 ce4jesus

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 01:59 PM

Underwater Naturalist

Why would you need a card to dive naked? :D :) :blink:
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#51 MikeVeitch

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 02:12 PM

bahahahahahaaaa

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#52 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 02:26 PM

I think that this has thread has generated a really interesting discussion. Thank you to all for contributions and keep them coming. I think that this discussion will provide a very honest resource to new divers wondering when to take up underwater photography.

Alex

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#53 jarhed

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 05:23 PM

I think the most "bang for the buck" dive cert is a rescue diving course. As always, the benfit is related to the quality of the instructer, but other than the steep learning curve associated with a newbie in an open water class, I feel that the money i spent on the rescue class was well invested. I wish that everyone had such skill, especially when buddied up with a stranger by the DM.

Additionally, I don't mind the commercialized PADI qualification method. As a "for profit" agency, they have the best web based data base. All quals are recogonized by every resort and you don't have to take all the courses. My wife certed with SSI, and when she lost her card, their data base was incomplete and she couldn't get a replacement. I've had dive resorts look up my PADI certs online when I lost a card and let me on the dive boat without queston when they saw me in the data base. Just a few benifits of a for profit agency. I guess you get what you pay for...

Sorry for the tangent, but I thought the opposing view might be of value.

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#54 Kelpfish

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 06:09 PM

to be capable of screwing off underwater, a diver regardless of cert level should have:

-Enough hands on experience to dive solo (defining this could grow into a book)
-A good attitude & willingness to continually learn
-Good listening skills
-be a good interpreter of experiences (good and bad) to convert into action (skill improvement)
-Not be macho loser know it all ( I avoid these like the plague on any dive trip)
-Know their gear by touch
-And be willing to know when to say no, or I know my limits, even though you might see the rare ballsack nudibranch. :blink: and don't want to leave it until you filled up a 4-gig card with a 1 mp camera.
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#55 Seriola

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 09:51 PM

NAUI master diver, AAUS scientific diver... currently looking into becoming NAUI instructor/DM


I think the most "bang for the buck" dive cert is a rescue diving course.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I think a rescue course would be a good pre-requisite for uw photo. But this is coming from my NAUI perspective. At my university we had to take rescue before U/W photo class. Maybe number of dives/total dive time is a better indicator of readiness? or dive frequency? I guess you could dive a lot and still be terrible with buoyancy etc...

Another thing, I started diving with a little Canon PS 200. I think it was quite appropriate for my newness to diving. Probably because it can teach you some lessons about buoyancy, like floating/sinking uncontrollably results in photos that suck so get your act together sort of a thing. So I guess you could say that the type of camera/size of housing being used should scale appropriately with experience?
Apologies if im repeating previous ideas, I missed some posts.
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#56 Paul Kay

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:58 PM

Quote:

"1. Legal requirements
2. Insurance requirements
3. To convince dive operators of the above

Number 3 I agree with .. but you don't need any of the others .. or a dive certification to go diving .. you just need the guts to go out and buy your own equipment ... if you have a way of filling the tank then you are good to go."

If only life was that simple! Depending on what you want to do and where you are operating, 1 & 2 are essential in today's potentially litigious world. I fully accept that they are irrelevant if you are happy to kit up and dive by yourself without anyone else involved, but as soon as others dive with you or you organise anything they are pretty much essential.

The cynical side of me wonders how much of this is driven by profit and vested interest, but to undertake interesting stuff like marine life surveys, archaeology, etc. you would find it impossible in Britain at least - and miss some fascinating photo opportunities. Most organisations undertaking such operations have minimum qualifications and experience levels (which it would be useful to look into for this thread - for example Seasearch (which I should know being on the steering group!)) and all will probably have the rider added that divers should be 'experienced' in the type of diving to be undertaken before task-loading.
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#57 AndyBarker

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Posted 17 August 2006 - 01:14 PM

This is getting very interesting, I think that everyone has said that

experience is a must & that buoyancey is paramount. As a padi diver

the problem of doing just enough dives to do to the next level causes

its own problems, I am not saying that every diver has not got the

ability & skills not to reach their next level, but diving, diving, diving

does & not just in one environment. I have a buddy who is a DM but

I would not let him navigate around my fish tank, he can dive safely

but some of his skills lets say require some attention, but he has payed

his money & got the ticket.

Andy :D :) :blink:

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#58 davichin

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 12:55 AM

Certification level is irrelevant.  Experience, tantamount to good buoyancy control, is the pre-requisite. 

Let's face it, regardless of training agency, certification level, people acquire buoyancy skills at different rates.

I wish we could require in water test, like a drivers license, before allowing someone in the water with a camera.  Won't happen. 

What bothers me more than new photogs with inadequate buoyancy is the new photog who is an experienced diver and demonstrates a wanton disregard for the reef.  I spent 10 days on the Ocean Rover with a Doctor who had plenty of dive experience (3rd Ocean Rover trip), but had a camera for the first time.  He was a one man reef wrecking machine.  "Excuse me, maybe that crinoid stuck to your knee is a sign."  Despite my protests to the staff, he continued.  I chased him several times, but could never get there in time to yank his fins off the reef.  Sorry, rant off.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I think exactly the same!! :)

If Padi, Ssi etc... were only the schools where to learn and, after that, you had to go through a hard state exam before being allowed to dive then those "schools" would provide much better learning (even if only to have better pass statistics for marketing...).

Talking about UWP I think reef safety comes first and diver safety second.

I am Ssi aowd (got it to be able to night dive) & nitrox padi (got it because is very useful in liveaboards)

I have also noted that some "old school" UWP only worry about getting the pics and they don´t matter what they have to do to get it. And I think I am very lucky to dive with a group of people always respectful of the environment...I just hate to be in a liveaboard and have my dives ruined because I just can´t stand see how some people behaves down there.
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#59 Paul Kay

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 03:17 AM

"some "old school" UWP only worry about getting the pics"

Depends on your view of what your photography is all about. I percieve myself to be primarily interested in natural history imagery when underwater, and as such the subject's welfare comes first (as it does above water for nature photographers). That said, some inadvertant damage is almost inevitable given the amount of unwieldy junk we all wear, especially if diving in less than ideal conditions. In temperate waters, provided damage is limited to minimal disturbance I am not overly worried (this equates to walking through a wood, you have got to tread somewhere and whatever you tread on.....). Old school or otherwise, its attitude not age!

Alex asked about qualifications and experience. As posts have revealed, qualifications are a means to an end to some degree and mean little in terms of divers' actual abilities. Experience will improve abilities, but only if linked to an attitude which empathises with the marine environment. Something which is tricky (but not impossible) to teach - peer pressure can work at times.

Anyway, come on Alex, spill the beans, your qualifications, experience?!!!!
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#60 loftus

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 05:20 AM

Hey Davichin,
If reef safety comes before diver safety, do you inform your buddies of your priorities before diving? :)
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