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Wearing a drysuit and shooting macro


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#21 scubamarli

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 06:47 PM

As one can tell from the varying opinions and the article on the link James posted, there are different opinions. I was not trying to promote something dangerous. I found that in a neoprene drysuit, the best way for me to stay in control of my bouyancy and stay warm is as described. One omission: I leave my drysuit valve open, unless I am below 100 ft., and then I just back it off a little. I can simply lean to one side and excess air vents. I completely agree one should be comfortable in the suit before dragging the camera gear along. I also believe that one should be experienced and comfortable diving in a wetsuit before diving dry, while others would disagree. I'm on my third drysuit, and every new one has had a learning curve, even after 900 dives. I have dive friends, including instructors that subscribe to each technique.
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#22 timoma

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:16 PM

Rand is absolutely right. Use your BC only in an emergency. The idea that someone is promoting multiple buoyancy use is terrifying.


Well,

It all kinda depends. If you carry twin steel 15 liter tanks for backgas and two 7 liter alu's for deco you will find that doing all your boyancy with the drysuit only is not such a good idea after all. The amount of weight you lose during a dive can sometimes be amazing...

While I agree that initially having only one boyancy device in use definitely makes life much easier, using both is not by any means dangerous. Just a matter of practice. In fact, I have found photography (or any other UW activity like laying line in mineshafts etc. for that matter) incredibly easier after learning to use both BC and drysuit for boyancy, especially when carrying a lot of kit for the "bigger" dives.

YMMV.

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#23 Tom_Kline

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 12:37 AM

I have been using (rubber and tri-laminate) shell type dry suits since the 1980’s and agree that each one, and the parts and accessories (zippers, seals, dry gloves, hood, boots), presented its own learning curve. However, I am of the school that keeps the air in the suit to the minimum, has the exhaust valve in the minimum pressure position (counterclockwise in the suits I have used), and uses a B.C. for buoyancy control. I now use the DUI weight harness with rather negative steel tanks but back in the 80’s I used Al tanks, which required 44# plus ankle weights for underwear needed for temps that are typically in the 40’s (F) with a standard weight belt. I am presently use 32# plus ankle weights when carrying a 2# negative camera rig. It takes a number of dives to get proficient in a dry suit.
Tom

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#24 JackConnick

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 10:56 AM

Well, everyone has pretty well covered it.

I think we should add in "degree of difficulty" points for cold water shooting on the contests!

I disagree that using both the BC and drysuit for buoyancy is dangerous or something. Just using the suit is old doctrine and results in huge bubble that roll around your back and throw you off. I just loose the air in my BC first as I continue the dive and vent the air in my suit as I come up. I've left my vent all the way open most of the time on walls and whatever with no problem.

Best advice is to dive the rig and get yourself horizontal, with a bubble or two in your wing to keep your head up at the beginning of the dive. Have a friend look at you and maybe take some ankle weights and move them around on your rig up and down to achieve trim. Adjust your tank and plate as necessary.

I would do this without a camera, in fact I would dive at least 25 dives without a camera at all to make sure using the suit is second nature. It's easy to get task loaded.

Then add the camera and move some weights a bit to compensate. I've put 2x 2# inside my undergarment and pockets with good results. For god's sake get rid of the ankle weights; all you are doing is tiring yourself out and digging a trench.

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#25 Tom_Kline

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 08:35 PM

This is the first I have heard of anyone carrying their lead inside their drysuit. I actually tried out two sets of ankle weights when using a Viking - no that did give me lead foot! With no weigths the feet had excessive bouyancy - a lot depends on the suit!
Tom

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#26 davehicks

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:51 PM

I'd recommend losing the camera until you are proficient with your bouancy in the Dry Suit. Give it 25 - 50 dives at a minimum to get really comfortable.

I don't buy the single air bladder as an absolute. I started this way, but once I became more comfortable in a dry suit, I found that I was a lot more stable using only enough air in the suit for squeeze. I typically add a little bit of air in my BC as I get below 40 feet or so.

I you need a lot of air, you are probably overweighted. New dry suit divers typically pile on the weight because they add way too much air to their suits and then can't get it all out as they ascend.

As for the ankle weights, this varies widely. Don't be afraid to take them off or even move them up to your knees if it helps your trim.

Finally, lots of Northwest divers I know have NEVER used a wetsuit. There is nothing wrong with learning in a drysuit. It may be more work, but your average cold water diver is probably a lot more dedicated and ultimately skilled than the average warm water milktoast. :blink:

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#27 Viz'art

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 08:33 PM

I use a neoprene dry suit and in the beginning used ankle weight, got rid of them, I found the trimming process very arduous at first, but then again your kind of learning something new when you switch to dry so yeah! it did take a few dives, but once you get it, man that stuff is comfy.

For the record is was taught never to use the Bc, but I think the person who recommended me that never had a housing underwater with a pair of strobe attached to it, I add just a few bubbles to trim for the camera setup, overall I think there is a lot of good suggestion in this tread, but the consensus is drop the ankle weight if you do not absolutly need them.

A little modification I did to my dry was to move the exhaust valve to my left forearm, thus giving me an easier access to it, remember that double flash housing in your right hand!, I think in the end dry suit is a personnal appproach, if it work for you and it is safe why not, there is a lot more variant in my opinion in dry than wet suits, material variation and/or combination, not to mention undergarment thickness, make the winning recipe for everyone impossible. But I'm glad your going dry James, the next step is to get you under the ice when you come up to visit Aquatica.

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#28 jander4454

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 05:56 AM

Having one source of buoyancy to control is not old fashioned - it is safer and in my opinion should whenever possible be restricted to the suit only. I have long argued against the use of ankle weight - they are just another crutch for trainees to lean on while they learn to control their buoyancy with their suit and gear configuration. If you carry weights around inside your suit then you are an accident waiting to happen.

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#29 kathymm

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 06:37 AM

My suggestion is to go to a swimming pool (one with a nice deep end) with all the gear you will use when diving, including your camera system. Have a buddy get in with you with extra weights handy, set them on the bottom or something.

Weight yourself so you can get to the bottom and get horizontal. Have your buddy move your weights around until you can do this without effort. You can also play around with the total amount of weight you carry so you will not be overweighted. And I think you will find that after doing some diving that you will fine tune this placement of weights even further.

Some things that I have found matter to my weight situation: Fins. My fins are old Jet Fins and are heavy. I don't wear ankle weights. Drysuit. How my suit fits, what it's made of and size and material the built in booties are made of. Weight belt/trim system. I love my DUI weight trim system. It puts the weight down near my hips which helps the balance. Camera and housing. My new housing for the D70 weighs 8 lbs on land with no camera! I took a couple of pounds of lead off.

But try the pool thing, it really helps to get you started. Try hanging upside down and then righting yourself. I frequently turn myself upside down while diving to put air in my booties. I have lead feet and have to watch to make sure they don't stir up the bottom.

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#30 james

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 08:17 AM

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've tried the pool - I even took PADI's trysuit course. My drysuit is pretty oldfashioned and it has big fat legs and built in rubber booties. It is a plain-jane Mares tri-lam suit, but it fits me pretty well and was inexpensive enough that I could see buying it even for a few trips a year. The feet and legs from the knee down hold a LOT of air. I tried trimming in the pool and even from a totally horizontal position, I couldn't keep the feet down and do a fin pivot. Hence the ankle weights. I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...

I'm not a rank newbie, either to diving, or photography. I've got a BC that is perfectly tuned for my diving style. I can hang motionless in just about any position, when diving wet.

This trip was my second time diving dry. My first trip was in much colder water in California. I've not done 8 drysuit dives and I think I have the hang of it - I just need some fine tuning w.r.t. holding rock-steady in the water while I line up a macro shot - something that most people have trouble doing in just a wetsuit.

I appreciate everyone's feedback in this thread. I've certainly learned a lot and I see a few areas where I can improve my trim. Any and all further feedback is MUCH appreciated.

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#31 richorn

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 09:05 AM

I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...


Yeah, I tried ankle weights once recently (lent out my gators for a dive) and can't imagine using them again. The gators do such a better job of keeping air minimized from the knees down, and you don't "feel" them at all.

Felt like I was wearing steel boots with the ankle weights.
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#32 JackConnick

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 09:16 AM

Having one source of buoyancy to control is not old fashioned - it is safer and in my opinion should whenever possible be restricted to the suit only.... If you carry weights around inside your suit then you are an accident waiting to happen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Whatever. I see newbies who can't achieve trim because they have too much air in the suit. They overweight themselves because of it. A suit is a suit - not a buoyancy device. PADI and others still teach only using the suit and that method, while ok for newbies, is outmoded with backplates and the newer methods of achieving trim.

The 2 2# soft weights I used inside my pockets were just that; way down inside my thigh pockets of a stretch undergarment. With slight squeeze on they never moved at all. I don't use them that way now, but they gave just a little trim lower on my body. While an unusual idea, the trim was in a good place. 4# isn't going to hurt anyone, even if they were on one foot.

I'm certainly not an accident waiting to happen (and resent that depiction, we are having a polite discussion here), dove probably 150 or more dives that way in all sorts of conditions, night, boat, shore, very poor viz, very high current - you name it. Have 500 dives in the same sort of conditions here in the Pacific NW and Canada and 9 countries around the world.

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#33 JackConnick

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 11:40 AM

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've tried the pool - I even took PADI's trysuit course.  My drysuit is pretty oldfashioned and it has big fat legs and built in rubber booties.  It is a plain-jane Mares tri-lam suit, but it fits me pretty well and was inexpensive enough that I could see buying it even for a few trips a year.  The feet and legs from the knee down hold a LOT of air.  I tried trimming in the pool and even from a totally horizontal position, I couldn't keep the feet down and do a fin pivot.  Hence the ankle weights.  I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...
Cheers
James

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


James it sounds like the suit doesn't fit well on the legs. I would suggest the gaters or getting the suit re-cut a bit. Possibly wearing an extra set of long johns, socks or something might help. I've also used Dr Scholls pads in my boots. Another tip is to try wearing 'fin keepers" they are those triangular rubber band thingys over your boot/fin at the ankle; they will act like a gater to keep air from your boot and are cheap.

A good shop should be able to improve it. Otherwise you'll just be fighting it. The ankle weights are fixing the symptoms not the cure...they will cause other problems and tire you out.

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#34 Kelpfish

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 05:05 PM

Hi James,

Welcome to the world of drysuit diving. I use a DUI Tech200 crushed neoprene. Don't think I'll ever change. As for buoyancy, weight, as you have heard is important. Not enough can ruin your whole day, making you flop for every ounce of movement. One question. Are you opening your shoulder valve all the way? If you do and then you bump it or even close it somewhat and forget, adding air to the drysuit can cause exactly what you are experiencing. It's the same as being underweighted. I sometimes close my valve a bit to get that lift at the end of the dive, then open it as I reach the surface, then switch to the BC after that. There is still room to be clumbsy. Any trapped air will move inverse to your desired positiong, especially the legs. I usually get vertical, make sure the valve is open and try to let the water pressure vent out the excess air to maximize my movement capabilities. When I am shooting macro, I leave that shoulder valve wide open.

Hope this helps.

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#35 mandarinfish

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 08:32 AM

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I was taught to use the drysuit for buoyancy, of course, because it's less task loading for new drysuit divers. My first drysuit was neoprene, and I ended up with a huge bubble at depth to compensate for the neoprene compression. At that point, I really didn't have any other experienced divers to discuss the problem with, other than my instructor, so I just started experimenting with using the BC, first only at deeper depths, as my own solution. It worked for me, I preferred it, and I eventually migrated to using the BC all the time, same as Herb and Jack and the cast55 article, even with my current shell suit. I leave my drysuit valve mostly open. I have found nothing complicated or dangerous about this approach.

As for ankle weights, I don't use them; however, I have a DUI with sock feet for rock boots (or wetsuit boots, which is what I use these days) over them, so there's no air pocket. Unless I'm on a wall, I shoot macro feet up, so having minimal air in the suit to begin with, and eliminating air around my feet helps alot. I don't have to make any buoyancy adjustments when I change positions from hovering to shooting.

My suggestion would be to minimize the air you need in the suit (even if you choose to use the suit for buoyancy), so evaluate your weighting. The negativity of your camera will also affect both the amount of buoyancy compensation you need, as well as your trim. You might take a look at neutralizing the buoyancy of your rig. I have floats on my rig, since I don't like having my camera as part of my weighting system! (starting from an RS, this was a big consideration!) Since the problem seems to be mainly around the feet, try gaitors, or you might consider retrofitting your suit with better fitting boots, or with sock feet, to eliminate any large air space. More ankle weight is not a great solution, as it causes other issues.

#36 Giles

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 09:15 AM

James .. been a long while since I used one .. I also did the PADI course .. I had to .. if i wanted to dive in this lake i dived in .. in a dry suit they made you .. to makemoney of course. Anyway .. I had a dry suit just like yours .. what I could afford .. considering how much I would use it.

Solutions I would recommend that made me more comfortable.
Distributing weight, put the weight where you think you need it. This can be done with many devices, ankle weights, harness, extra weight belt around top of tank (my favourite) Once you have it distributed is when i trimmed the weight as I could feel which bits had too much and which had not enough .. thats my two cents

Oh and some people like to be weight nazi's in dry suits as well as in the tropical areas. Even though I too like diving with as little weight as possible, it is not always right for everyone, so remember .. don't be afraid to add some if thats what it feels like just because it seems like too much weight .. you know what you are doing, you know how it is meant to feel .. so do what feels right for you. I personnally dive with a lot of weight in drysuits cause i like a lot of air, in fact often my suit was filled so much when i was verticle the air would come out the neck guarenteed ... but i had good bouyancy and the air kept me snuggly buggly.
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#37 cuberoot3i

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 11:08 AM

i've been diving a bit, just started with the photo bit on the last ice dive. i only dive dry and have no problem with trim. this is what i have and do. once a year(last weekend) i spend the day with working on bouyance control with my girlfriend. i dive tec. ( steel doubles tanks, regs, ect) i also with gaiters and no weight. i dive with my feet slightly elevated. keeps from silting out, touching coral, ect. i find that neoprene suits are warmer and better fitting.
a course that i recommend for experance divers is a cave/ cavern course. altho this is "tec" it is way better that a bouyance course.

#38 Panda

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 11:48 PM

Once you get your overall weighting sorted it just requires a subtle technique of keeping your feet lower than the rest of your body (When you are trying to stay still to take the shot). I wear ankle weights (0.3kg) for shallow photo dives but you still need to be aware of your feet not being up.

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#39 Tom_Kline

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 06:42 PM

A lot depends on the type of boot installed on your drysuit. If the boots are stiff and voluminous, you will need to use ankle weights. Gators will not help in this case.
Tom

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#40 onokai

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 10:33 PM

Just found this link and found it amusing. I'm with Linda as yo more weight may hurt more than help. i've got 4 dry suits hanging now. The dui 2000 is my fav. The other 2 are nokia's before they went into cell phones and the 4 th is a viking. oh I have a dui tri lamanent piece of s---. Ok one set of ankle wieghts is right for most . i never put air in BC unless I want to float on surface. I did not take a padi course on this but I have -Put Another Dollar In more than once.. One needs to make a few dry dives and get the hang of this. Wet suits are easier as they are like a no brainer. It takes awhile to learn your BC trim right?? This was so long ago I'm a bit hazy on the memory. But the dry suit is like the bc learning. I usually leave the dump open and trim by raising shoulder. A great set of underwear helps such as usia brand made in Oregon. They are the best. the Subal of warm. All my suits have built in boots except ths tri piece of ---. Ok i'm not a tri fan.. getting your wieght right is key you will need more than a wet suit any wet suit. Keeping in trim takes time. muti tasking takes practice. 20 more dry suit dives and you'll be a pro. Ps keep your feet down. Mark
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