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Tips on filming Whale Sharks while snorkeling?


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#1 pakman

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:33 AM

Alright, I'm gonna have a chance to snorkel with some whale sharks in early Feb over in Donsol, Philippines.

Any good tips on filming these lovelies? Other than getting in shape to keep up with them... :ninja:

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#2 Kelpfish

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:57 AM

Get in front of the whale shark if you can. This will allow you to shoot head shots, then seguey into side or downward shots, then the huge tail. Just depends on the behavior of the sharks and how/if you are dropped off by boat, picked back up and dropped off again etc. And if viz is bad you will need to get close enough so you don't just see a blob. Head shots provide the most detail.

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#3 pmooney

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:59 AM

Wags will be online shortly - I'm sure he has a few secret tricks to share.

#4 Scuba_SI

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:10 AM

watch out for the defensive barrel rolling if you get in front, i got my ass kicked for that when on assignment in the Seychelles.... Most embarrassing!

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#5 pakman

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:25 AM

defensive roll? is that something like being bitchslapped by a whale shark? :ninja:

Edited by pakman, 13 January 2008 - 08:26 AM.

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#6 Mini Dive

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:50 AM

I was snorkeling with some in the Maldives. On one pass the tail of one of the whale sharks gave me a nice firm shove through the water, but it was fun. Just protect your camera.

Edited by Mini Dive, 13 January 2008 - 10:52 AM.

Dive deep, play with sharks . . .

So long and thanks for all the fish . . .

#7 Drew

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 11:17 AM

In Donsol, the area they do most of the whaleshark watching is pretty shallow, no more than 45ft. The viz is crap 15-20ft.
Now the problem with getting in front of the whale shark is like the others say, they tend to dive down. However, if you are way in front and dive down below them... they will swim right over you.
Instead of swimming right at it, swim at an angle so you cut it off. Also this is where a shot list might help.
I would borrow a weight belt from the dive shop for this. More hard work but you get better at depth stuff.
The other issue with the Butanding viewing in Donsol is there are about 5-6 boats around. Even though the skippers watch out for you... it pays to watch where you are going, esp if you are going down for 1min+. Btw tell the guy you will be going down for that long. Don't want to start a panic like I did long time ago :ninja:
If you are chartering a boat, you can go out to the deeper, more blue and clearer areas farther out. The sharks tend to be more shy here but blue is actually blue here. Great for stills but sucks for video.

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#8 wagsy

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:21 PM

All good tips and here is some more.
First thing is to hold your breath for a long time. ;)
Filming them when you are on the surface will generally lead to wobbly shots so get under the surface before you hit record.
Don't wear a wet suit so you don't have to wear a weight belt if you can. Only girls wear belts :ninja:
TOGS are best as the more clothing you wear the harder to swim in.
Swim down way in front of it for an underneath shot as it swims over you and don't get to close.
Don't make it dive or you could get a some nasty verbal by the operators.
Generally for each drop think of your shot you are after and take it.

Here are some video screen grabs from video we shot while snorkeling.
http://www.villagedi...bout sharks.htm

Good luck. :wub:
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#9 Kellywags

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 05:56 PM

Don't wear a wet suit so you don't have to wear a weight belt if you can. Only girls wear belts ;)


Wags- I take huge offence to this comment...

I am a girl, I have filmed more Whale sharks in the last two years than what YOU have and I have not worn a weightbelt once! :ninja: ;)

My tips:
Make sure you don't get stuck on the side of the shark facing into the sun (important if shark is fast)
Don't hit record until under the water
If the shark is right at the surface, keep the camera on wide as much as possible to prevent your shots from getting wobbly (just get closer rather than zooming in)
Keep in mind that if there are other snorkellors, their splashing creates more lense bubbles than you would usually have to worry about when scuba diving, so keep checking before each shot
If swimming to keep up, I find that holding my housing out in front to break the water with one arm and swimming with the other is easier than dragging the camera behind
Try to move with the shark as you are getting the shot, otherwise you'll end up chasing his tail for the rest of drop (nice angle though!)
For a break, swim right behind the tail so the shark breaks the water for you, you kind of get sucked along!
Be prepared that you will possibly get shat on if you are shooting underneath :wub:
and my number 1 tip......

.........Have a flip screen on your housing!


filming.jpg

#10 pakman

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:10 PM

Yep Drew is right, in all the videos at Donsol I've seen so far, the viz is pretty crap. We'll have an extra day so depending on how it goes the first day I might consider hiring out a whole boat.

TOGS? had to google that... um, let me find some ass-less thong speedos for least resistance... :ninja: don't worry I won't put that on video...

thanks guys & Kelly for the tips.

shot list
desperately trying to keep up while swimming along side...
fish tail shot
trying not to breach like the Red October after staying u/w for 1min while keeping the camera steady...
more fish tail shots...

Nasty verbal... LOL... reminds me of the gal who decided to grab the whale shark's dorsal on our Sogod Bay trip last year and spooked it off. You could hear the groans u/w from the 3 of us with DSLR's setting up for the shot!! Poor girl was in tears on the boat afterwards.

Kelly- yeah flip screen monitor would be nice... That's the one draw back of the Gates HC-7 housing. You can't see too far above it...

one last thing - Simon that avatar of your's is disturbing... LOL...

Edited by pakman, 13 January 2008 - 06:17 PM.

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#11 Scuba_SI

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:25 PM

one last thing - Simon that avatar of your's is disturbing... LOL...


That's Deanie B from Facebook... I didnt think it had worked. I guess my cache is still full!

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#12 Scuba_SI

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:30 PM

defensive roll? is that something like being bitchslapped by a whale shark? :ninja:


hehe,

I was about 45 degrees to its left, and ducked down to get a side on shot. Unfortunately when i kicked down i made lots of bubbles which i think made the shark turn towards me. Due to being generally unfit and knackered i could only stay down for about a minute or so and had to come back up. I think i was about 15 feet away when it started to roll and descend, but not much i could do other than stay still.

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#13 Drew

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:02 PM

Wags- I take huge offence to this comment...

I am a girl, I have filmed more Whale sharks in the last two years than what YOU have and I have not worn a weightbelt once! mad.gif tongue.gif

Uh oh... Wags is sleeping on the sofa tonight. :ninja:

Pak also get a few closeups of the remoras if there are any. Always good for an intro shot.

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#14 pakman

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:30 PM

Forgot to ask... What about focusing? Given the amount of particulates expected and bubbles from snokerlers etc... Best to lock focus to avoid hunting?

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#15 wagsy

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:01 PM

O no the missus has found me ;)
Hi Baby :ninja:

Pakman, I would lock it full wide-infinity as you will be getting a high fstop so long depth of field.
Zoom in and push to focus for close ups if you can.
Leave your shutter and iris on auto and even auto WB if you want.
Wipe the bubbles off once you get in.
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#16 Drew

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:17 PM

Well I would put focus at 3-5ft. You won't be too far away because of the viz and you may get REALLY close if you get lucky. So 3-5 is best esp for the SWP25.

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#17 PCDiver

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:50 PM

Slightly off-topic,

would it be allowed to do the whale shark trips with rebreathers instead of snorkling?
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#18 pakman

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 11:09 PM

I think within the sanctuary, no diving period... But it is the philippines and I'm sure you could "work" things out, maybe towards the outer bay... Plus no one would see your bubbles... ;)

Kind of reminds me of seeing some guys carrying scuba tanks into Jellyfish Lake in Palau last year... Who did he pay off to do that...? :ninja:

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#19 Ferg42

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:36 AM

I went filming some whale sharks in Djibouti in November with the HC7 in a Gates housing. Absolutely great fun- loved every minute of it. I'd second most of the advice above. I locked focus on my fin at start, tried to get under as much as possible, and, I have to admit to being a bit of a wimp and wearing a shorty (and weightbelt). Call me a girl, Wags.
Anyway, I was pretty happy with some of the footage I got and have edited a short 5 minute film with music, which I will try to upload to Stage6 in the next day or so, if anyone's interested. One thing to really watch with that housing is the flipdown filter. A couple of times I ruined shots because the filter arm had go knocked on the boat and I had a small vignette in the top right of the shot. I ended up shooting with the filter down alot of the time (even though i was near the surface and WBing on the sunball). Seemed to work OK. It was choppy at the surface most of the time, so a steady shot was tricky.

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#20 MikeVeitch

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 02:22 AM

Pak stay down for a minute?!?!?! bahahahahahaaaaaa

The marlboro man himself..

23 secs tops is my guess

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