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How experienced a diver do I need to for underwater photography?


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#1 opie

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:38 PM

Hi Everyone - this is my first post - this forum seems cool! I'm envious of some of the pics here - I just stare at them and try to analyze how you guys do it.

 

This may be the ultimate noob question - how good at diving do I need to be before I attempt underwater photography? I've only ever dived once and I don't have any certification but I'm planning a trip to the great barrier reef in Australia (probably only beach dives) and am debating if I should buy a housing and a wide angle lens for my S95. Am I biting off more than I can chew if I try u/w photo at this point?

 

Part of me wants to try and snag some great underwater pics, but part of me is worried I won't be able to managet the diving and photos at the same time and I'll just end up frustrated with a bunch of expensive equipment I can't really use.

 

Any advice for a newb?

 

 

 

 



#2 E_viking

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:58 PM

Hard to say!

Do the OWD and get a feeling for how the Buoyancy feels like.

When you reach the feeling that the diving&buoyancy part is pretty much second nature to you.

Then you are ready for it


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#3 MortenHansen

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:15 PM

Dear Opie! 

 

Welcome to the forum! :) 

 

Just the fact that you took your time to ask that question here on the forum before making a decision is in my opinion a good sign! 

 

If you are not yet certified then I would recommend that you wait with the housing and WA lens.

 

For the course itself you will for sure not be allowed to bring a camera, its one of the standards that us instructors must follow, we are not allowed to bring cameras our selves while conducting courses, and neither are entry level students (such as yourself) during the course.

 

I always say to my students that when they can go diving with the same comfort as when they go for a walk, then they can consider bringing a camera.

It is highly variable when people get to that point, some people can do it after 20 dives, some never learn, (almost) no-one can do it freshly certified.

As E-Viking says, Buoyancy-Control is key! 

 

A lot of divers start bringing cameras too early and are therefore being too focused on photography rather than learning how to dive properly, those people will spend a lot more dives than necessary before they get the skill which is really needed to dive safely and comfortably. 

 

If you are really keen on doing some photos while being out on the barrier then I would recommend you to buy the housing, do your course, and then after the course is finished, give the camera to your guide and I'm sure he/she will be happy to take a few snapshots of you and the reef. Between the dives, you can still use the camera while snorkeling! 

 

All in all, do yourself a favor and hold off on the underwater photography until you feel like a fish while diving! :)

 

Hope this helps! 

 

All the best from sunny Bali,

-Morten 



#4 PEDiamond

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:44 AM

Good question...I got into diving a year ago specifically to take pictures..I got my open water cert, did one dive with a camera and put it away in the closet for a year while I got more experience diving....didn't even try to take pictures again till I'd done 70 dives...now I just got a rig and am doing ok with it but still am limited by my diving ability and not my photographic skills....aloha....Peter

#5 ChrigelKarrer

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:35 AM

You are enough experienced as a diver to start with UW Photography when you:
- can estimate you actual tank pressure +/- 200 psi

- you can estimate the time you are under water +/- 5 minutes

- are at least a certified Open Water Diver

- can hover above the ground without kicking and sculling and not damaging any marine life

- can use your dive gear with closed eyes and without taking your eyes from the view finder (except tocheck your air and dive computer)

- understand the theory of decompression your dive computer perfectly

- know what DoF, f/stop, aperture, ISO and their correlation is

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#6 opie

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:18 PM

Wow - thanks for all the candid advice! I guess I'd really be getting ahead of myself to buy a whole bunch of camera gear at this point. I'm going to look into doing my PADI!



#7 davephdv

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:16 PM

Comfortable UW, I think the need to be an expert diver is overstated.


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#8 ChrigelKarrer

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:11 PM

Wow - thanks for all the candid advice! I guess I'd really be getting ahead of myself to buy a whole bunch of camera gear at this point. I'm going to look into doing my PADI!

 

Well you don't have to do the PADI (even if i am PADI Instructor and loving it), choose any well known and big dive education agency near where you live,

or do it in a holiday in warm waters.
Keep in mind that it's not PADI, SSI, NAUI, CMAS, etc giving you a good dive education, it's your instructor!

 

What you can do is a "Referral", what means that you do all classroom and pool work back home in Canada and the you get referred to another dive operation

at the place of your choice to do the 4 open water dives to finish the OWD course. This can be also a solution for you to finish your OWD in Australia what will be certainly 

more fun as doing the open water dives in cold waters and low viz in Canada.

Chris


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#9 andy_deitsch

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:32 AM

You are enough experienced as a diver to start with UW Photography when you:
- can estimate you actual tank pressure +/- 200 psi
- you can estimate the time you are under water +/- 5 minutes
Chris


I think these first two bullets are over the top expectations and not needed before taking a camera underwater Chris. Does PADI expect that befor they allow divers to take the PADI Underwater Photographer Course?

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#10 Kelpfish

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:38 AM

I think these first two bullets are over the top expectations and not needed before taking a camera underwater Chris. Does PADI expect that befor they allow divers to take the PADI Underwater Photographer Course?

 Yes, Andy, that should probably be more around "pays frequent attention to his gauges for depth and time".  I would add:

 

1. Get certified because that in and of itself teaches you things you would not know as a non certified diver (DCS, depth limits, basic gas laws, gear)

2. Get very good at buoyancy control

3. Get very good at navigation, both natural and compass

4. Stay within "comfort" limits - To get more experienced after a number of dives, you will slowly segue into more unfamiliar terrain, deeper water, etc....that's how you get better & more experienced but do it incrementally over time (months, years).  Become very comfortable in the 30-60 foot range first, know your basic skills instinctively.  if you have to do a lot of thinking to recollect skills while diving (what to do) you probably are not ready to move forward to something new and different, let alone bring a camera with you as a major distraction.  

5. Referring to #4, photography can pull your attention away from other important things like depth, time, whereabouts.  The more instinctive and familiar you are with your gear, your skills and YOU, the less likely it will be for you to get into trouble.

6. ALWAYS put safety ahead of photography.  Too many times I have seen divers, including me, who found a neat animal at 100 feet and keep shooting because I know I will probably not have the opportunity to shoot it again (anytime soon, anyway). You MUST have that "cut ties" mentality in exchange for safety.  If your air is at 750 psi at 80, feet, you generally need to wrap things fast so you can do a good safety stop and surface safely.

7. Don't cheat on surface intervals.  Most diver DCS cases happen in the 60 foot range because, mentally, that is a safe range for divers, so they tend to do multiple dives to 60 feet on a single day for longer durations than they would at 100 feet. That builds up slow tissue N2 faster than a 20 minute dive at 100 feet, which generally affects fast tissues more than slow (but still affects slow tissues).  Divers are taught that 100 - 130 feet is not as safe as 60 feet.  And it isn't if you do 3-5 dives to 130 feet over a day.  But generally recreational divers end up doing multiple dives during a day to 60 feet (3-5 dives) and you need good surface intervals and must be very cognizant to not push your bottom time to the NDL each dive.

8. Become an expert at multitasking - I cannot stress this enough - adding a camera to the mix means there is a lot more thinking going on underwater (refer to #5.)

9. Wear a big brass clip on your BC and have one on your housing in case you need to go hands free for emergencies.  Simply clip the camera to your BC so you have free hands to do whatever...assist another diver, safety stop on a crowded anchor line, gear interaction needs, etc.

 

Just some thoughts for you to consider, but if you don't know the basics of depth/time/ascent consequences, take the course.  Not knowing can kill you.


Edited by Kelpfish, 13 June 2013 - 04:42 AM.

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#11 MortenHansen

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:03 AM

Keep in mind that it's not PADI, SSI, NAUI, CMAS, etc giving you a good dive education, it's your instructor!

 

Amen! :) 



#12 ChrigelKarrer

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:59 AM

I think these first two bullets are over the top expectations and not needed before taking a camera underwater Chris. Does PADI expect that befor they allow divers to take the PADI Underwater Photographer Course?

 

andy_deitsch,

in the last years students coming for the OWD and want to take pictures/film during their course raised above 50% (and they will raise even more) and i mostly have to discuss why i prohibit

them to us it during their course.

PADI allow us to integrate Digital Underwater Photographer as part of the Open Water Diver but the first dive of the DUP course have to be the last dive of the course and after all skills

are done and during the guided tour part of this dive. If one of my students should be able after his 3rd open water dive to hover perfectly and showing very good general dive skills,

i may would think to integrate the DUP for him, but i never had this situation and i think that i never will have it with a beginner.
It is my job to teach beginners to become good and environmental protecting minded divers and not to teach them DUP during their first dives,

even if i could gain more doing such things.

 

I think that those two are first a sign of being comfortable under water and it need a "bit" of experience to become comfortable with each owns personal air consumption.

Beginners with a camera (video or photo) are prone to run out of air as they concentrate on taking pictures and forget to check their air enough frequently and loose their 

sense of time what connects together with air consumption and can lead to exceed th given bottom times.

 

No, PADI as all other dive education agencies don't expect this to start with a underwater video/photographer speciality course,

this is my personal belief that this would be very useful to not harm himself due running out of air or ending with a decostop.

 

Chris


Edited by ChrigelKarrer, 13 June 2013 - 06:27 AM.

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#13 tamas970

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:51 AM

Very interesting topic. I am an experienced photographer on land but still a novice diver. Actually started diving because I wanted to shoot underwater:).

 

I already bought my UW photo gear (E-PL5+9-18, 10bar housing, Inon UCL165, 2x S2000 strobes), but I'll put a couple more dives under my belt before I'll start using it while on scuba. I expect I'll start actively using it after ~20-30 dives. No need to rush and damage the expensive equipment in the process...

 

Right now I am finished with the "card collecting" (AOWD+nitrox - thus I won't have issues to get an EANx fill or being banned from a 25m dive).  I'll sign up for a local diving club, which organize nearby dives on a weekly basis - additional benefit: I'll learn to handle a drysuit.


Edited by tamas970, 14 June 2013 - 05:53 AM.


#14 andy_deitsch

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:18 AM

I think that those two are first a sign of being comfortable under water and it need a "bit" of experience to become comfortable with each owns personal air consumption.

Beginners with a camera (video or photo) are prone to run out of air as they concentrate on taking pictures and forget to check their air enough frequently and loose their 

sense of time what connects together with air consumption and can lead to exceed th given bottom times.

Chris,

 

I certainly think being comfortable underwater, having good buoyancy control and being able to manage air consumption are reasonable expectations before diving with UW camera equipment.  My point was that being able to guess within 200 PSI how much air is left in your tank I would consider to be an advanced capability and not a requirement before beginning to photograph underwater.   I would agree with Kelpfish's comment that the more appropriate measure would be ""pays frequent attention to his gauges for depth and time"


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#15 Mark K

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 05:39 PM

My first instructor did not allow me to shoot before 100logs. Now with 200-300 logs I still feel a better buoyancy control is needed.


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#16 diver dave1

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 05:13 AM

My first instructor taught me that the most dangerous thing to divers underwater is other divers.  Over 20 yrs of diving has taught me he was right.  You do not want to be that other diver to someone else or to the reef.


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#17 Pfuller

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:16 PM

There's a keyword that hasn't been raised yet...Respect.

Respect for the situation your in underwater. Respect for the laws your body is governed by. Respect for your equipment. Respect for ocean ecology. Respect for your subject. Respect for your buddy.

Everyone on this forum would be guilty of being a bit of a dive paparazzi from time to time. But the more aware of your surroundings you are without a camera, the better you'll be with one.

#18 Balrog

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:34 PM

In my personal opinion some of the posts here might be a bit over the top but it depends on what you mean by underwater photography; there's a lot of difference between taking a few quick point & shoot mementos during a dive and seeking the ultimate composition and lighting with a bulky rig.

 

An inexperienced diver with good buoyancy control can carry a small camera underwater but it must be supplementary to and not the main focus of the dive.

1) Keep your camera in your BC pocket on a short tether and only take it out only when you are feeling comfortable and in a non stress situation, maybe even settled on the sand.

2) Pre-set it before entering the water such that you don't distract from situation awareness with complicated button pushing.

3) Take what you can see; don't chase subjects, you will likely forget about safe diving as you push along watching only your view finder/screen - they are quicker than you anyway.

4) Forget wide angle or macro lenses, they will tempt you closer to your subject and potentially into personal danger or reef kicking territory.

 

Finally don't expect great shots, these generally take much more experience, better diving skills and probably a more complex rig.

 

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#19 ChristianG

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 06:30 AM

I'm in Oz (Australia),  allow me t wise you up to things here, :)

 

• The GBR (Great Barrier Reef( is nowhere near Oz, The closest it gets is near Post Douglas, even then it;s a good couple of hours steaming away by fast boat.

• Come here at the wrong time to go to the GBR and you will shake hands with our "Big Wet" as well as, perhaps, the odd Cyclone or two. That's what Hurricanes are called in this part of the world. Don't, therefore, come in our summer, your winter,

• The GBR is well and truly overrated anyway. Yes, there are spots I would cheerfully kill for to go to again, but they're few and far berween, the operative word being "far", it's a bloddy big place. Having said that, as a mewbie your perceptions will be very different but there are better places in Oz to dive nevertheless.

 

As for getting a camera, forget it for the immediate future, learn to shuffle along before you start jogging and, then, you have to learn how to run.Dn't endanger yourself by acting prematurely.


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#20 burnah

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:25 AM

hello!

as someone who has only 30 dives and did some simple photography and video in the last 6 of those, i can totally recommend one thing i did on my stay in bali:

hop into the water as often as possible for some snorkelling with your equipment. you will get used to its handling, ups and downs and might even get some shots. it also helped me experiment with perspective, settings and specimen spotting, without a) having to pay for a dive, b) having to think about pressure, deco, buddy..

 

i was snorkelling and diving down for about 3 hours a day, getting the routine with my equipment from changing/charging batteries, leak testing and changing camera settings. i continued to do this even when i started the scuba, it simply was too fascinating!

 

greetings martin