Jump to content
tobbe

Tech diving with camera rig

Recommended Posts

By the end of next month i will make my first advanced dives with a complete camera rig.

So far i have only been mix diving in cold water without cameras, or tropical/cold water dives without helium when using DSLR cameras, holdig it in my hands.

I'm not sure what to do with the camera rig when not using it and when i need my hands free (when changing gas, handling lines etc.).

What is the best practice for photography during dives with more than one gas, should i use yo-yo, hand strap, hook it up on a d-ring or just keep it in one hand?

Edited by tobbe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is tough!

 

The added task loading of a camera with two strobes and full Tri-Mix I found quite a challenge in cold water.

 

You need to be pretty confidant with the mix diving before adding the camera. Assuming that you are, the next thing to realize is that the gas changes and runtime monitoring take precedence over the pictures - easy to get too involved in the shots and overrun the BT.

 

The most important part of you kit is your buddy - and he or she had better not be taking pictures as well as their sole mission should be to look after you and ensure you both don't overrun etc. I have used my buddy as a Sherpa to carry stuff like tripods and extra lead (to nail the tripod down in current) - however they tend not to like it much, bitch and moan a lot and seem to require quite a bit of post dive beer to facilitate 'recovery'.

 

As for handling the camera during gas switches I have clipped mine off - but it can take quite a battering when you start moving cylinders about etc. Again, having a good buddy here is an advantage as your buddy can do their switch then babysit the camera while you do yours - extend your runtime as required to allow for the 'waiting for your buddy bit', or better yet take a backgas break.

 

If your camera is negative you can clip it off to a d ring and drop it a couple of metres below you - to be honest I prefer to hand it off to my buddy as it seems to be an entanglement hazard and there is a fear of it getting unclipped and dropping to the depths. Also we have to dive fixed lines and there are often other divers also coming up for their stops as well - string city.

 

Enjoy - I would suggest you start buying beer for your buddy now!

 

Paul C

Edited by PRC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By the end of next month i will make my first advanced dives with a complete camera rig.

So far i have only been mix diving in cold water without cameras, or tropical/cold water dives without helium when using DSLR cameras, holdig it in my hands.

I'm not sure what to do with the camera rig when not using it and when i need my hands free (when changing gas, handling lines etc.).

What is the best practice for photography during dives with more than one gas, should i use yo-yo, hand strap, hook it up on a d-ring or just keep it in one hand?

 

Safety is the number one issue. You must utilize your team member to help with camera rig and monitoring your depth, bottom time and run times and gas switches. Most of my images are cave photos, and I need my team to help with all the aspects of the technical dive as well as be an extra set of hands. We find that a rehearsal and briefing are essential to getting good images in the bottom time allowed. I sometimes clip my rig to the line, never to myself, (the camera gets banged around too much). I prefer to hand the camera to my other team member while sorting things out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your advices.

Most of the tech dives i have done so far has been in a team of three. I think that could make make things more easy when handling photo gears, but a rehersal also sounds like an idea. I'll make sure to bring some extra beer as well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with PRC, tech diving with a DSLR is tough work. This is particulalry the case when loaded with 2 slings, though one is more manageable.

 

I agree that all divers from a buddy/team should not be taking photos. If your buddy is a shooter then either share the camera or do one dive each kind of thing.

 

I've found clipping the camera off to the crotch strap d-ring (for brief stowage) or right hip d-ring for longer periods. I'd also make sure that the rig/strobes are tightly wrapped up in a ball before doing so as otherwise it will flop around and become a serious issue. Depending on how you setup you slings, the right hip d-ring might work as well, but watch your long hose. I'm on a breather so don't have the long hose issue (just other ones).

 

If you're doing any kind of penetration, seriously consider the length of your strobe arms. The shorter they are the easier the rig is to manage in tight places. Longer strobe arms in wrecks can be very tricky and/or dangerous.

 

Again, Paul hits it on the head by saying diving safely should be your primiary objective, not shooting. I made this mistake on a rather wreck once and was lucky to find my way out. I was narced and got a bit too caught up in taking shots, rather than ensuring I stuck with the guide.

 

If you're diving mix consider being more liberal with the helium. I personally get narc'd like hell when holding a camera so am probably running more helium than most for deeper divers (> 50m). The clarity makes shooting easier too, but then you have to consider the deco issues associated with this.

 

I also don't take a camera on dives with sub-optimal conditions. The point at which I can complete a dive safely, vs safely with a camera are separate.

 

My last point is that your life isn't worth the price of your camera, so if it comes to I think you should be prepared to ditch it. I know this is not a nice thought, but niether is breathing water. For this reason I usually don't dive with a strap connected to my. If absolutely required, I expect I will drop it without much consideration. To minimise risk I also clip the camera off during ascent and descent. This gives me two free hands to deal with issues and/or gas switches.

Edited by betti154

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree on the helium - hit it hard. If I am taking photos in cold hi current situations then I will be using 20/30 at 50m, 16/40 at 60 and 10/50 after that.

 

I disagree about any added deco obligation but this is not an appropriate forum for that discussion.

 

FWIW I would not be part of a buddy team where the other was also shooting and I would not dive as a three, that is a disaster waiting to happen - you can keep track of one other but not two others. At some point you will end up with a pair and a single - as the shooter you will likely be the single, you will be left behind some place.

 

<edit - added this bit as it seems I feel strongly about it >

Three is also a licence to abdicate responsibility - "Oh look harry is doing something stupid, never mind Fred is closer he will sort it out". Sorry, on this type of dive I am responsible for my buddy and he/she is darn well responsible for me - no abdication. Some agency's teach three up in this way and to be honest I don't like it much.

 

Take care. Go at it slowly, this type of diving is unforgiving, get very proficient before adding the task loading of a camera.

 

Paul C

Edited by PRC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been shooting on cold water (2-4 deg C) cave (or mine, to be precise) and trimix wreck dives for about a year now; there's still quite a lot to learn, but this is how we currently do the stuff, with some slightly-of-topicish-ranting too: :rolleyes:

 

-I started with a lanyard, made of cave line pulled through some silicone hose to prevent entanglement, but I found that it's not really necessary, now I have the camera rigged stage-style with clips under both handles. During descents and deco I usually hang the camera from the crotch strap d-ring, during longer swims I clip it like a stage or just let it rest on my arms, so that it's ready to shoot and I have both of my arms free at the same time... But I'm still trying to come up with a better way to swim (or scooter, in the near future) with the camera and maybe some bottom and deco stages

 

-handing the camera off during deco gas/stage pickups and gas switches might be a good idea too, as long as your team's on the same page... :D

 

-I try to make all the photo gear as neutral as possible. negative kit is annoying enough on rec dives, on tech dives I consider it hazardous to have to wrestle with the gear. it does take some effort to make even Ikelite stuff neutral in fresh water, but I've had some success with deep sea trawl floats

 

-if it's a photo dive, it's a photo dive. it gets planned as a photo dive, not as ordinary dive with just one of the divers lugging a camera

 

-try to limit the shooting to a pre-planned portion of the dive, when you start your exit or ascent, you concentrate on that 100%... when there's a good moment during deco or say, during slower reelwork I've been tempted to take some snapshots, but lately I've been trying to avoid that

 

-tech dives are not good for photography practise. you can do shallower, easier dives in cold water to learn to handle the rig with dry gloves etc, so that you don't get completely absorbed by the camera when shooting - you need to able to just take the shot and maintain team, gas and plan awareness at the same time

 

-I'm all for the three-man team... But then again, I tend to dive with the same guys all the time.. It just takes more diving and practise together, and some more discipline, but it's perfectly doable, and in caves it also give you a lot more opportunities to play with slave strobes, more light to see stuff, and quite a lot more team gas reserve - but definitely only one photo- or videographer in the team...

 

//LN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm all for the three-man team... But then again, I tend to dive with the same guys all the time.. It just takes more diving and practise together, and some more discipline, but it's perfectly doable, and in caves it also give you a lot more opportunities to play with slave strobes, more light to see stuff, and quite a lot more team gas reserve - but definitely only one photo- or videographer in the team...

 

Cave is a very different environment to a cold and tidal wreck - and one that I have absolutely no experience of - having said that I would love to give it a go - but not with any camera!

 

Maybe a three man team in a cave is OK - on a tidal wreck it is not so easy - I have been the one left on my own when the other two paired up.

 

When we went over why the separation occurred it went down the "I could see xxx and assumed he could see you". No way I would do this stuff on my own but at least you would leave the surface knowing you were on your own, finding out on the bottom that you have no backup is a harsh lesson!

 

I just assumed they left me because I made them haul the tripod!

 

Anyhow this is fast going off topic and Lauri has made a great contribution to the original question.

 

It's probably best I shut up.

 

Paul C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting comments.

 

I view a 3-person team as much safer than 2 as long as you have the "right" team that wont leave you no matter what (which I am lucky enough to have)

 

How do you prevent damage to dome ports etc. when you clip off the camera as a stage ? Say you have an AL80 and Al40 under the left arm already ? I have a dome cover but I can barely put it on on the surface, let alone under water.

 

Also, with scootering it seems things will clang around a lot, possibly damaging gear.

 

I video at these depths sometimes (and am increasing that activity) and I can mostly hold the video camera on an ascent, clipping it off to a left D-ring for gas switches, but my still camera dome is quit a bit more exposed than a still. The crotch D-ring is definitely also an option also.

 

This is an interesting topic as I am trying to get some stills & video of local deep wrecks and the Mexico caves.

 

Definitely only one person shooting at depth is a good recommendation, although in shallower waters I have had a second videographer video the main videographer to make things a bit more interesting (seems to work quite well)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How do you prevent damage to dome ports etc. when you clip off the camera as a stage ? Say you have an AL80 and Al40 under the left arm already ? I have a dome cover but I can barely put it on on the surface, let alone under water.

 

Also, with scootering it seems things will clang around a lot, possibly damaging gear.

 

I clip on the camera last, with the dome facing outwards. When passing tight places I switch light to right hand and use left hand to protect the camera and shuffle things around. Won't probably work with scooters, but I'm still waiting for my N-19... Last I heard it was being shipped to Europe from FL... :rolleyes: I'm thinking about mounting the camera on the scooter for travel. Not very streamlined, though.

 

I don't like to have the dome cover on when underwater, but I may have to use one as I start using more tanks. We've made an underwater cover for our video dome with some spare neoprene and bungee cord; it's a bit easier to put on underwater.

 

Definitely only one person shooting at depth is a good recommendation, although in shallower waters I have had a second videographer video the main videographer to make things a bit more interesting (seems to work quite well)

 

Yeah, for video we've had up to 6 people in water, as 2 3-diver teams. There's always something to do for everyone, lighting etc. Works as long as you plan the shots and don't improvise too much...

 

//LN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I have always found clipping off a camera onto a chest strap the easiest. I improvise spare 'Buddy' crotch straps as chest straps on all my wings, though some 25mm webbing, a couple of plastic slides, a fastex and a small D ring would do the same job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scooter mounting the camera rig is the way to go. I have a lathe and was able to make mine, and it's quickly detachable.

 

Too many team members can be disastrous, especially in a cave. Last week, attempted to do a cave shoot with my regular team member as my lighting diver, and 3 other cave divers (operating as an independent team) as subjects. The short story is, that 2 of the 3 other divers were not capable of maintaining proper bouyancy and swimming technique. Consequently, I never took a shot and we called the dive early before it got too hazardous.

 

Lesson learned: plan your dive, dive your plan....and check out the abilities of unfamiliar team members before embarking on technical photo/video dives.

 

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...