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.