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Wearing a drysuit and shooting macro


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#61 nancyscuba

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 03:23 AM

One of the most important elements to be able to comfortably shoot macro photos is have excellent buoyancy control. You might want to work on that in your drysuit before you tackle more macro photography.

#62 gassa

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 04:49 PM

I totally agree with laure!

What I did was looking at technical divers, realizing that I needed to learn how to dive again. I took GUE fundamentals ( gue.com ) and have now completely chanced the way I dive. My weights have decreased. I am more relaxed underwater and thereby the diving is more enjoyable. Equipment is more simple. I can Hoover at the same spot, doing complex things without moving around ( damaging corals ).

If you are serious about diving and photographing then this is the right thing for you!


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#63 Balrog

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 12:57 AM

When it comes to buoyancy and weighting strategy its important to remember that everyone's physiology is different. Maybe more dense leg muscle, bigger chest, larger sinus cavities - not to mention the belly :blink: , so we all have a subtly different balance in the water. The experienced diver might have tried lots of kit but for sure has only dived with his/her own body.

Observe the safety issues, understand the physics and start off with something close to an accepted norm. Where you go from there is down to what works best for you.

#64 RedSeaDiver

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:32 AM

I can Hoover at the same spot, doing complex things without moving around ( damaging corals ).

First came underwater ironing - now it looks like underwater vacuuming is taking off! :blink:
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#65 stewsmith

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:35 AM

First came underwater ironing - now it looks like underwater vacuuming is taking off! :blink:



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#66 Scubysnaps

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 09:36 AM

Thanks for resurrecting this topic, altho mixed opinions, I've found it pretty helpful.
Recently I've been having buoyancy problems and blamed it on my fairly recently new force fins (10ish dives), last night I went into the club pool for practise in my shorts and t shirt with single cylinder and I was fine, so I've realised its not my fins it is within my dry suit or my weight distribution. I dive 12l indie steel twins with 5mm neoprene dry and most recently arctic undersuit. Last Sunday I went in Swanage for some more practise and when I was taking photos, I too, had my fins uncontrollably raising, I even had 2 x 1 kilo ankle weights on to try and keep them down.
My weight is currently 13kg, breaking it down...5kg in the integrated pockets at the front of my tekwing, 2 in the concealed ones in the back, and 4 (previously 2 without the arctic) in the front of my weight belt (as well as the ankle weights which I am not using anymore)
I appreciate the comment about the more weight you use the more air you need to keep neutrally buoyant, and the amount of air needed to keep me on the surface after the dive.
I now aim to try lowering my tanks as much as I can and shifting the 2 (not 4 anymore) in the front of my weight belt to the back of my weight belt (both forcing my arse down and thus my legs?)...totalling 9kg, I've been down before with 9 but felt a little light, but if I persevere on draining all the air out of my dry suit before I go in and descending vertically upright with my dry suit exhaust valve open I think I should be ok? any other pointers to help me would be appreciated...I weigh 15st 7lb (217lbs or 99kg)

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#67 Paul Kay

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:58 AM

Woody

I doubt its weight distribution - sounds like you are simply getting too much air in your feet - I'd blame air migration. FWIW although I'm a bit lighter than you I too use ~13kg on a single weight belt and ankle weights (I use size 13 wetsuit boots over soft DUI compressed neoprene boots so these do create buoyancy but with Force fins on they seem to stop substantial air migration into the feet too). So I'd be more concerned with trying to check on how air is shifting around your suit and especially into your feet and reducing this. I tend to be somewhat overweight generally - useful to settle on sandy seabeds where no damage will be caused - but rarely have buoyant feet so I'd suggest air migration to the feet may well prove to be the culprit.
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#68 Scubysnaps

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 09:03 AM

Thanks Paul,
I forgot to mention that my arctic 3 piece undersuit includes the arctic socks and it was a very tight fit in between that and my dry duit, that tight I had to get my dry suit pulled off my legs after the dive, so there's even less room for air than there ever used to be


ETA...I'm gonna go in Swanage on Saturday with my semi dry and see how I am, that should help, process of eliminatiion and all that!

Edited by The Woodster, 20 August 2009 - 09:23 AM.

Cheers
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#69 Tom_Kline

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 08:37 PM

Thanks for resurrecting this topic, altho mixed opinions, I've found it pretty helpful.
Recently I've been having buoyancy problems and blamed it on my fairly recently new force fins (10ish dives),



When I got my latest dry suit that takes separate hard boots I got rid of the air in the boot problem so no more need for ankle weights. I also switched to XXL Scubapro jet fins to fit over these boots, which may be slightly negative as well. :wacko:
T

Edited by Tom_Kline, 02 September 2009 - 08:38 PM.

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#70 ErolE

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 03:42 AM

Okay let me add my 2 cents.

What I think we need to accept is that trim and buoyancy are part and parcel of the same skill. That skill set allow precision and control underwater. Whilst it is possible that this can be achieved in any gear set up, it does make life harder, not having the right gear.

First off we need to establish what we are aiming for in terms of trim and control. For me something along this level is really the only goal. http://www.youtube.c...player_embedded. That is absolute buoyancy control and a horizontal trim. This helps us in a number of ways by providing a stable platform where we can hover ie approach shy critters with only a tiny flick of the fins. It also provides excellent mobility allowing use to backward kick and re position for a good shot. It also does this without silting or dragging our fins across the substrate, a behaviour which a depressing number of divers still feel is acceptable.

Also the fact is that, given a correctly weighted rig and a little bit of practice, these levels of control are not hard to achieve.

So in terms of drysuit management where does this leave us. Okay technique wise what do we need to have

First off you have a drysuit and a wing/bc. Which one is designed to keep you dry? Which one is designed as a buoyancy control device? Sorry to point this out, but why make life harder for ourselves, by using our equipment for a role that it was not designed. Your wing/BC controls your buoyancy whilst min gas is injected into the drysuit to keep you comfortable. On ascent gas is dumped from the suit before, it expands creating buoyant legs, whilst buoyancy is managed via the wing. Easy

For good trim and buoyancy in a drysuit what I suggest is that you try using min gas in your suit and spend some time trimming your rig with trim weights. For instance when using twins I commonly use V weights between the tanks. This prevents me from having too much weight on my weight belt, which pulls my legs down, not where I want them, silting the place up.

If you find that your legs are buoyant, then there are 2 possible problems. Either you have too much air in your suit or your buoyancy control is off and you are negative causing your heavy bits ie your torso to sink. This in turn causes your light bit ie your legs to rise. So next time you feel your legs rising relax and focus on where you are heading, if you are heading down, inject some gas into your wing. Once you have achieved neutral buoyancy, ask yourself what your legs are doing now.

Also as stated by others, if you are still struggling to manage air in your legs, by all means try a pair of gators. In all likelihood though you will find that after a bit of practice you will no longer need them.

Ankle weights are not a very good solution as again they pull your legs down, leaving you out of trim and silting out/damaging the substrate again. Not where we want to be. Better to focus on our trim and get the basics correct, rather than apply corrective techniques, for not having skill base sorted out.


First off in terms of drysuits, neoprene is not my choice. Neoprene is less flexible, slower to dry and harder to fix than a membrane suit. On top of this neoprene also has changing buoyancy characteristics, with the neoprene compressing at depth so, you ll find that when you are at depth and the neoprene has compressed you ll over weighted. Again not sure about you but I like making my life easy, so having to lug around weights I don t need doesnt appeal to me.

After about 15 years of drysuit diving, I have tried many manufactures and unfortunately I have to say that the DUI TLS350 series is the best out there. It offers by far better flexibility than any other suit I have tried, making it very easy to manage. I say unfortunately as they are the most expensive suits out there and try as I have no other suit comes close. Sorry just the way it is (and I don t work for them or get paid by them, wish I did though as I d get cheaper suits).

Other gear, is really a back plate and a wing. This helps me to achieve perfect trim whilst allowing me to do anything from a 10m reef dive to a 100m wreck dive with the same gear foundation. That, again, makes my life easier.

I hope some of the above info helped. In terms how I dive this is what works for me. I am as you have probably guessed a GUE trained diver and unashamedly so. I have been training with them for about 8 years and to be honest I progressed more as a diver in the first year than I had after 8 years prior diving.

If anyone has any question you can either reply or send me a PM. I d be more than happy to help.


Happy diving Erol
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#71 Aquashot

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:22 AM

I highly recommend the DUI weight harness, it is fully adjustable and will allow you to position the ballast to achieve good horizontal trim.

As for how much lead you need, that will vary with the undergarments you wear, but in general the same principles apply as with a wet suit. You want just enough to be able to maintain neutral buoyancy at the end of your dive for a stable 15 foot safety stop with near empty tanks and enough air in the suit to prevent squeeze.

I would get at least 10-20 good dives just practicing buoyancy before adding the camera if you are new to dry suit diving. Once acclimated you can experiment with the shoulder dump valve to maintain the proper amount of air in the suit during the dive.

Leave it wide open when first starting and then as you get the feel for things you can close it down somewhat while at depth, just don't forger to open it up all the way again before beginning your ascent.

I usually dive with it about halfway closed once at depth. Sometimes I even close it down if I need to maintain a position that places the valve high up and I do not want it to vent. Just be very careful that you do not forget to open it back up if you ascend, even just a little or you could start a runaway ascent.

Mostly you just need practice, eventually you will get more comfotable with the feeling of you're legs floating. It takes practice but eventually you will be able to float neutrally buoyant in a head down position ( like a trumpet fish) I even sometimes adopt this position when there is not enough room or over a silty bottom when getting my camera as low as possible. The big key is practice practice practice.

#72 Scubysnaps

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:57 PM

Since my last post I bought an O' three dry suit off the peg, made to measure; buoyancy's better, but miles away from what it could be, if anyone fancies helping me with a dip in Vobster Sunday, let me know, would consider a course fee as long as u can guarantee a definate improvement with my indie twins! thanks
Cheers
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#73 JimSwims

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:26 PM

Hi Scuby,
just wondering if you have tried Gators? I use them instead of ankle weights and they work a treat. I generally, in the
colder months, like to be able to pump a bit more air in the suit and have no issues with the floats. I also place a small weight in
each thigh pocket for my trim. I frequently dive in <5m on long shore dives so tend to overweight a touch and just compensate
early in dive with more air in suit if required. These days I rarely dive in the wetsuit as I am most comfortable in the dry-suit. I
also dive in a Tri-Lam suit rather than Neo so my solutions may not suit you.
I got my Gators from Golem Gear for a very reasonable price.

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#74 John Bantin

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:54 PM

There is no doubt that a drysuit makes photography that little more difficult. You really need to wear your weights in such a way that there is no tendency to pitch or yaw while neutral. If you start your dive neutrally buoyant you only need to add air to the suit to stay that way. By keeping the volume of the suit constant your buoyancy remains constant and the only time you should need your BC is at the surface. In Britain I see so many divers wearing too much lead and needing to use the BC to compensate. This can lead to serious problems. So get it right in the shallows. Use the minimum amount of lead and exhale to leave the surface. Am I trying to teach my mother to suck eggs?

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#75 born2dive

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Posted 26 April 2010 - 10:35 PM

James,
It also sounds like your're not wearing enough weight. I'm sure that you're not wearing as many layers as I do in 43 degrees F, but 14#s?? Is your backplate heavy? I wear 32#s of lead, on a 125 lb. frame. I'm super bouyant, but you might want to add some lead, too.
Cheers,
Marli


I agree with marli. It sounds like you're pretty light and need some more weight. I use 26 lbs when I dive in a drysuit. As a point of reference, when I am diving and a 2-3mm in warm water, I use 8 lbs.
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#76 jcclink

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:35 AM

Once you add air to your drysuit it becomes a BC. As depth increases you add a little air to avoid suit squeeze & maintain neutral buoyancy. As depth decreases you vent. There is no need to complicate the issue by also adding/subtracting air in the standard BC. Only use BC on the surface if needed. Diving + photography is challenging enough without adding more tasks. The diving part should be second nature - you automatically know what to do & when. The camera seems to get most of our attention. One hand for diving & one hand for the camera. Don't make life more complicated than it already is.

Edited by jcclink, 27 April 2010 - 06:47 PM.

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#77 colinm

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 01:28 PM

I know this is a bit of an old thread, but it sounds as though a lot of the recent posters are having trim issues due to carrying too much lead.
I'm 5'8" and weigh 154lb(70kg). When I'm diving twin 10.5ltr steels, Diverite Transpac, DUI 50/50, Weezle Ext, and 5mm hood, I wear 6lbs of lead. In a 3mm one piece wetsuit and a single Ali 11ltr I wear 5lbs of lead.

In the past I've gone to a shallow dive site, no more than 5m, (2-3m is ideal), with about 50bar in whatever cylinder/s I'm using and sorted out my ballast. I do it with a completely empty BC, and if I'm in the drysuit, just enough air to remove the squeeze. When the cylinders are near empty is the best time to sort out how much lead you need.

#78 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 12:26 AM

Yes, its an old thread but worth keeping live. Back to basics! A drysuit keeps you warm by allowing a thermally efficient undersuit to be worn (I use a Weezle AND 4th Element pullover/longjohn). These all work by trapping AIR. To compensate for this bouyant layer of air you require lead. The amount of lead depends on the amount of air (which will not vary throughout the dive - although you may need to add or subtract air to deal with pressure variations). So in essence the amount of lead carried depends on the temperature, your resistance to cold, dive duration, and neutrality or otherwise of the rest of your kit. I like to keep warm, so that temperature is not an issue underwater even in cold water, and as I generally prefer to be slightly overweight, as I like to settle onto sand for photos and being neutral makes this less easy, so I generally carry 13Kgs of lead plus ankle weights. I usually use a 12litre steel + a 3ltr steel bailout which I personally prefer - although some do find this combination to be unbalancing. As Mr Bantin says, my BC is not used underwater, only at the surface (it is there as an emergency buoyancy device only whilst underwater, and its feed is from my 3ltr - this reflects my diving which rarely seems to venture much beyond 30m meters, if it does then a reconfiguration might well be needed). Even with a lopsided cylinder configuration and 13Kgs of lead I do not have trim problems.

However, all this technical stuff aside, IMHO wearing a drysuit does NOT make photography more difficult - I'd say that for me a wetsuit does, and this reflects my diving experience as I dive far more often in a drysuit. Using a drysuit properly is fundamentally about experience and thinking about what you and your kit are doing. Being underweighted is just as frustrating as being overweighted, its about finding your own comfort zone and equilibrium. I would say though, that throwing a camera into the equation will show up sloppy technique (which can be compensated for in general diving, but shows up when you need a slightly higher degree of precision). Oh yes, and lastly, we all have bad days when nothing seems to settle down or a strap has slackened off, or whatever!
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#79 harrym

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 03:28 AM

What does a dry suit have to do with photography?
It's like asking, How can you drive and wear Cashmere at the same time?
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#80 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 03:44 AM

What does a dry suit have to do with photography?


I'd argue a great deal. Although I take your point that many of the issues raised here are not actually drysuit specific.

As an underwater photographer you need to be stable in the water and have good diving skills - to provide a stable platform for photography. This is just as true whether you are trying to shoot wide angle or super macro. Diving in a drysuit or a wetsuit.

I am really encouraged to see photographers taking about trim and reducing their weights - being honest and wanting to improve - rather than adopting the old school philosophy of putting on extra weights and crashing into the marine-life until you are stable!

Poor diving skills and diving over weighted - holds back many people's photography - not to mention damages marine life.

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