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Photo Taking Etiquette Guide


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#1 Big Blue One

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 09:10 PM

I have reproduced my thread from Fins here as this forum is clearly targeted at the UW photographer.

As more and more of us are purchasing underwater cameras I thought I would jot a few ideas down

Camera Etiquette
  • If you spot something unique and interesting - look for divers around you without cameras to at least share the experience. Sometimes those without a trained eye enjoy being assisted in seeing something new. Don’t always leave it to the dive guide to do the finding.
  • Non camera holders always get first call at critter viewing
  • If there are a lot of cameras take a few shots then give someone else a turn - unless there is a clear understanding of first in first served. The former especially applies to multiple divers with smaller cameras. Try not to hog the subject if in a large group. If unsuccessful with your first series you can come back when everyone else has had a go.
  • If you end up behind a serious photographer with a big camera then either learn patience of skip that subject and move ahead to the next.
  • If in a large group of camera holders then try to split up into small groups. Stick together as buddy or 4-way teams assume your critter shots will complement each other rather than everyone needing to photograph everything.
  • Don’t try to zoom from critter to critter. Respect that when we take photos that sometimes puts as at the back of the pack and that our turn to get to the front will come again.
  • You don’t really need to shoot everything. Be discerning and assume you will probably see it again sometime during your hopefully long dive career
  • Do NOT move critters (and don't let your dive guide move them either !!). They are there for a reason and poking them out of holes or picking them up and moving them is inconsiderate. (Don't laugh - spotted divers picking up frogfish and moving them around the house reef at Kapalai !!)
.

Photo taking logistics tips

Going In
  • Assess the current the surrounding area and any fragile reef forms that may be at risk with you wading in with your camera - important to look for soft corals and brittle growths such as sea fans
  • If needed chose a carefully selected balance point using either a pointy stick or your fingertips (both on dead or hardy coral)
  • Look behind you and make sure you aren’t stepping on anything, check what you may end up stepping on if your bouyancy does go awry (ie scorpion fish hurt !!), and check grounding points if you need to ground your fins for stability
  • Adapt your kick style and body position keeping your legs and body off the reef adopting knee bent modified flutter or frog kicks - keep aware of the currents and water movement.
  • Shoot with smooth and gentle action to reduce camera shake preserve bouyancy
  • Do not lie all over the reef just to get a better angle. If you cant get a good angle without sprawling your body over everything then leave it until next time you see that critter in a better position
Leaving
  • Getting away from the reef should be your number one concern (not checking shots or adjusting bcd’s or finning like mad)
  • Gently back away or float up by taking a breath - maybe a slight push off from your holding spot if you needed one to head backwards
  • Do not kick until you have floated a little away from the reef and try to ensure fins are high off the sand or away from the coral (knees bent finning method). Use very small kicks rather than full leg movements until you are clear of the reef or sand
  • Check you are clear of the reef before fiddling with your camera and checking your shot
Waiting
  • Don’t sit on top of the current photographer - keep a comfortable distance from both reef, sea floor and object.
  • Be aware of currents - the photographer needs to get in the right position so dont sit in the best current spot - hold on if you need to but dont get under his/her fins - you will need that position and wont appreciate others in the way
  • Don’t get behind an object in the line of sight of the current photographer - nothing more annoying than having a big camera making up the background of your carefully selected aquatic subject.
  • Don’t surround the photographer - he or she will need an exit point when finished !!
  • Establish an order of going in to avoid 2-3 divers colliding - again judge the currents
  • Don't snap away over the top - respect the right of the diver at the top of the line to get the first flash off. Nothing worse than fried pygmy seahorse or to have just got a great frame up for someone else to scare the subject off
Buddy Behaviour et al.
  • Keep an eye on your guages - don't go into unplanned deco - keep an eye on your air. Check guages at the end of every shot or in the middle of one that may be taking a long time
  • Establish your buddy protocol before the dive. Let the dive leader know what your plans are. Buddy protocols can be -
    - Standard buddy: always keep an eye on the other only one person photographing at a time
    - Diving in company: always stay in sight of buddy or buddy bubble trail. Make a point of checking OK eye-to-eye between shots. Both divers potentially shooting separately. If you lose your buddy then run your lost-buddy drill.
    - Solo is not a buddy protocol. If you want to go solo let the group know and also how far you are likely to travel. Get their permission first - not all groups or dive leaders are prepared to take solo divers
Equipment and stuff
  • The pointy stick actually offers a potentially lower impact than fingers. It has a smaller contact surface area, can dig into sand to help prevent drifting, and isn’t covered with human grease and suntan cream and other chemicals that damage marine life on contact. Still - only stick it on dead stuff though.
  • Establish a signalling regime before the dive and try to figure out what others may be interested in so you can get excited about the right things. Camera holders - communicate with the other dive group as to what interests you and what doesn't - it might be unique but you may actually be bored with blue ring octopuses so it is pointless to others to drag you over and irritating to yourself.
  • Try to keep your tapping signals to “i’ve seen something interesting” rather than “quick come over here as you just have to see this particular version of a small green nudibranch for the 150th time because I have never seen it before and am completely beside myself because the dive guide didn’t even point it out to me and by the way did you see that movie on the weekend”
Final tip
Don’t buy a camera - save money - save aggravation - just enjoy other peoples’ shots !!

i struck out this line from this forum because here we are all obviously beyond help on this one

Original thread and discussion can be found here http://www.finsonlin...read.php?t=7055
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#2 tdpriest

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 05:08 AM

An addition:

"... and remember, no matter how careful you are someone, somewhere, is going to find you making a mistake, and you WILL suffer for it..."

"You must ALWAYS try harder!"

I fell foul of divers who always swam 6' above the reef when waiting at a shark cleaning station: I sat for twenty minutes, then they made a fuss as they went overhead, above the patch of sand our guide had directed me to. Spooked sharks, sadly, spitting Scuba souls, certainly!

Tim

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#3 Kelpfish

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 08:26 AM

Nice list. Should be part of normal scuba training. A couple of more thoughts you may add to your list.

1. Show care for others' cameras in the rinse bucket (assuming you use the public one). Your glass and their glass are of equal value and importance to the owner. When the bucket is full don't cram your housing in it. Either wait, find another bucket or rinse it in the shower (but not if water is scarce :excl: ).

2. If possible, don't swim in front of another photographer if they are shooting upwards. They are likely shooting wide angle and would normally appreciate no fins or flailing divers in the frame.

3. When on the boat, do not store your camera on the work table. Once your camera is erviced between divess place it on the designated table/s or in your personal storage space (i.e. ice chest, bunk [not wet], rinse tank, etc.)

4. If you see something intereting don't be afraid to share it with a nearby photographer, even if you aren't a photographer. That happened to me and for her kindness I sent her a print of a nudibranch.

5. When you see another photographer working on their camera between dives don't go near them with a sopping head of wet hair or soggy dive suit. Water (and it happens a lot) will drip onto the camera and may affect electronics. Moreover, if a drop or two of water land in the camera houssing and you don't catch it, then when you are diving and you finally see those two drops on your port glass you begin the "freaking out photographer" behavior and think you might have a leak. The next dive is without a camera in the housing to test it for leaks. You never know what caused it. See what a little etiquette can do? I can't tell you how many times I've had to ask people to move away after they rudly drip over my open housing while reaching for a can of Pringles.

6. Teach every deckhand how to handle your specific housing. I can't tell you how many times "experienced" deckhands grabed my housing by the port and damn neaqr twisted it off when there is clearly two handles to grab. Everytime I have it lowered to me I show them how to hook it up and what to touch, and when it is being handed up I say, "grab it right here".


Just a few thoughts.

Joe
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#4 scubamarli

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 09:23 AM

Three other requests:

If you see a photographer sitting still and obviously intent on something, (and there is no guide around) do not stick your camera in front of them, poke your head over their shoulder, or swim around the other side to see what the heck it is they are looking at. They are more than likely patiently waiting for that moment in behaviour or composition to happen with a subject they have discovered, and you will undoubtedly screw it up. Wait and they will probably invite you in to see it. Do so slowly, so you can get your own decent shot.

If a liveaboard has a gazillion photographers, please do not leave your clothing, books, coffee cup, laptop, glasses, or bag of potato chips on the work table.

Remember to thanks those that did show you something, and when they do, don't chase it into oblivion, so that another diver can see it as well.

Cheers,
Marli
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#5 cor

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 12:25 PM

Although I do agree with most of the remarks I do think some of these rules make it sound like the photographer is some kind of higher life form on the reef. I think that is actually detrimental to our respect.

If I enter the water with a 170 degree wide angle/fisheye, I do not expect other divers to stay out of my image. It is my own responsibility to create my working space. I rarely get angry at someone for swimming into my picture. It is their holiday, and their right to be there too. And if I can, maybe I'll work them into the image.

Though it would be nice if other divers would be aware of photographers, you cant expect them to be, and should not demand them to be through some arbitrary set of rules.

Cor
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#6 tdpriest

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 02:02 PM

Thanks, Cor. Well said!

There has been a depressing trend recently, on Wetpixel, of horror stories about photographers trashing the reef: NOT divers in general.

Hubris? Nemesis follows...

... we need a bit of tolerance, and some humility. As much as anything we need to realise that we are not special, and that we should leave the reef as we found it. I've long felt that about wrecks, too.

It's actually simple: if you wouldn't like it done to you, why the **** do it to someone else?

Referring back to my earlier post, this is the closest that I got...

101_Sha_ab_Rumi_0804_020.jpg

... guess that I'll have to keep diving!


Tim

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#7 Kelpfish

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 02:10 PM

Maybe I should have stated my opinion differently. I have had other divers who I don't know swim right into my field of view and flex their arms and take their regs out and smile, so they knew what I was doing, but maybe didn't think it was a little rude. I am not saying I own the ocean like you suggest, Cor, but I do expect that if other divers know I am shooting WA, don't swim in my field of view thinking I will happily take your picture. I won't. On the flip side, I have had divers who are not photographers wait for me to shoot. That is courtesy and I will gladly shoot their image and email it to them as a thank you. I was recently photographing a large sculpin on an open reef ledge flashes banging away. All of a ssudden there is a spear shaft darting by me right into that sculpin. This is generally what I am referring to, not stay out of my view or else.

Joe
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#8 cor

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 02:32 PM

Hi Joe, I know where you're coming from :excl: And I fully understand what you're saying. I think most people dont mean bad, they just dont know. So if someone comes into my pictures and starts waving, I take a shot, and give it to them later, like you do. Then I point at something and try and make it clear im working on an image.

I also try and positively encourage courtesy. If someone makes an effort to accommodate me, I thank them afterwards. But i almost never chide someone if they dont. It's not worth the aggravation, and i can wait the 30 seconds it takes for most speed divers to move away. Live and let live.

There is always a small group of people that just doesnt care about anything. But wow...spearing something you're photographing, thats pretty brutal :) Looks like we're on the same page on this, but I do want to emphasize that im not sure a set of rules as extensive as this is really the way to go. Other threads show how grey of an area this all is , and id already call it a win if people would just stop willfully destroying things.

Cor
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#9 Kelpfish

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 03:00 PM

Cor, you're right. I think the list of rules is built on other photographers' experiences of frustration, I know my suggestions are. As for being a humble photographer, you are exchanging messages with one right now. I love helping people out and gladly share my experiences and technical background with anyone who asks. I am always the go to guy when some dive or camera gear breaks and I have no idea why other divers gravitate to me other than the vast amount of gear and tools I haul on my dives. To give you a real world, recent example of how I love to share and help others (and I know you aren't suggesting otherwise) I spent an hour repairing a guy's reg (who didn't test it after servicing) on the morning of a dive. He was FOREVER grateful. Another time I spent half a day rewiring someone's housing because their strobes wouldn't fire. The jury rig worked and I made a good friend too. Finally, I had a family ask me to give up a sserious dive and follow them around on a dive and take family scuba pics of them. It was mother, father, son and daughter on their annual dive trip. No prob. I was flattered they'd ask me in the first place. I think it is totally appropriate to be humble, sharing and make friends rather than shove that spear shaft up that guy's bung (which was tempting, by the way). I have tons of these fact-based stories because that's how I am. If you put yourself in a newbies shoes and try to look through their eyes, it's easy to behave in a way that leaves you as another great diving experience for that diver. We as photographers certainly don't own the ocean and I hope I didn't come across like that.

Happy diving!

Joe
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#10 cor

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 03:07 PM

If you put yourself in a newbies shoes and try to look through their eyes, it's easy to behave in a way that leaves you as another great diving experience for that diver. We as photographers certainly don't own the ocean and I hope I didn't come across like that.

Happy diving!

Joe

Not at all! I wish everyone was like you describe. I love helping people as well. What goes around comes around.

Cor
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#11 Big Blue One

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 07:33 PM

I agree with all the comments here about tolerance, understanding and gentle guidance and believe it applies to both sides.

Not enough of it in the world and really would be nice if all of us underwater could make the extra effort.

Remember the dive-training 101 - long, slow, deep breaths !!
Canon 20D, Ikelite housing, 2 x Z240 strobe, 100mm Canon macro, 10-22 Canon UWA, + bunch of other land lenses
My web site - Painted by the Sun
My Flickr galleries - Here !!