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james

Wearing a drysuit and shooting macro

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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

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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.

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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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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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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.

 

Alex

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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?

A drysuit has nothing and everything to do with photography depending on whether the skills required to master its use have been acquired or not.

 

I'm not sure that wearing Cashmere requires any training or additional technical skills, so whilst wearing a drysuit should be like wearing a Cashmere, unlike wearing a Cashmere, a drysuit requires training and lots of practice.

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Hi James!

 

One question comes to my mind: How good do your suit fits you? Free/unused space in a drysuit can be a true hell when it comes to trim, etc... since the air is moving around and makes it almost impossible to lay stabil in the water and my best bet on your problem is simply to much air in the leggs of your suit!

 

For the same reason I use a suit made to meassure (Trilaminate) but since you now have a suit already, it might be a solution with a couble of gaterwraps http://ats-diving.com/product.php?id_product=17 to keep air away from building up in the leggs.

 

Just my 10 cent's words!

 

Best regards and good luck from Kim Meineche

http://www.3Dphotography.dk

 

 

 

Hi Gang,

 

I had my first real good taste of drysuit diving this last weekend. This was my first "cold" water trip where I was warm and comfy the whole trip and I loved that. I guess it wasn't too bad because the water was 65, not 56...:-)

 

In any case, I had a LOT of trouble shooting macro. I have a pretty big camera rig, so one handed shooting is hard but do-able. I usually put down my left index finger on a piece of rock to steady myself and try to get flat in the water to get good composition. I thought I was trimmed out pretty well w/ a backplate BC, weights in the pockets, trim pockets on the tank band, and a 1.5# ankle weight on each leg. I had 14 pounds of weight plus the backplate and camera.

 

But I was still having a lot of problems staying still in the water. My legs were all over the place! Any tips? Get gaiters? Heavier ankle weights?

 

That will bring my legs down I'm sure but some other problems I had were that the bubble of air moves around really easily shifting buoyancy when I was trying to set up for a shot. I was wearing fleece pants but I was also getting a big "crushed" in an uh sensitive area...

 

Wide angle was no problem. I was able to swim pretty fast, even w/ the added drag, and I felt trimmed out pretty well for that...

 

Cheers

James

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Sorry for my late reply...... just after I wrote my answer, I discovered how old this thread is.

 

Hope my words can be at interest for some one anyway, sometime!

 

Best regards from Kim Meineche

http://www.3Dphotography.dk

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I had a similar experience when I started using my drysuit. The drysuit course was in freshwater and went well but I didn't have many undergarments on. Diving in salt water (Queensland, AU) it was extremely difficult - floaty feet, head down which was very frustrating. I had to readjust my weight and started using a weight belt (rubber type) in addition to my intergrated weights (Wing BC). As I dove more it became much more comfortable, but it took around 6 dives to get to that point. I was also able to drop some weight as the number of dives increased. Currently using 24 Lb but still feel like I could drop some weight (~25 dives). I only need 14 lb with a 5mm suit so this was considerably more weight than I was used to.

 

I use my BC for buoyancy and only add enough air to releve the suit squeeze. I realize this is an old post but I couldn't find any help when I was having difficulty, so hopefully this can help someone else.

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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 think that this is the best advice in this thread. I have about 3500 dives in drysuits. Bouyancy is an absolute non-issue. I don't even think about it. I also wear a shell suit (Viking Pro and possibly about to change to a DUI FLX Extreme) but I also wear double steel tanks so I have a relatively small weight belt.

 

The biggest thing in managing buoyancy is starting with the correct amount of lead so that the air needed in your suit is minimal. Our water never gets above 42F at depth, and is frequently colder than that, so I wear thick undies. You don't want to be squeezing yourself for obvious reasons, and you need some air in the suit for warmth. I rarely put air into my wing other than at the surface. My Aquatica rig changes my trim and buoyancy a good chunk, but it's nothing that another puff or two can't make up for...

 

So get a whack of dives in your suit, and when you have that down "pat" then reintroduce the camera...

 

Good luck~

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YOUR OVER WEIGHTED.!!!

 

I Dive UK for my sins and on a compressed neoprene suit of 4.5 with thermals and a hoodie for warmth under suits to be taken into account coupled with a 15ltr I only need 10Kg of lead to sink my 6'1" 107Kg 17 (stone) fat arse ankle weights included.

 

You do not need copious amounts of lead to get yourself sunk and the fore you only need small amounts of air to become neutral wether its in your dry suit or bcd or in some peoples cases both…..the rest is technique so just get practising. Do a weight check if your unsure but get it right now and you will save yourself a lot off faff later, if it helps leave the camera top side and just practise getting in and out of situations without the pressure of holding you camera.

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@goose:

I would personally state.

1) You need a certain amount of weight to keep down, as with Neoprene.

2) Depending on water temp. You also need "warming weights", especially with a trilaminate.

There is a huge difference in self Isolation between a trilaminate and a 4.5mm neoprene dry suit.

 

Where you put your "bouvancy" air is a personal issue. I always teach to newbies that they should put enough air in

the Suit to feel comfy and the control part in the BCD.

 

 

/Erik

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Hi E_viking,

 

Keeping on the subject of weight I do feel even in the red sea you do not need a lot of weight, (I have also used a dry suit in the red sea with the same weight on Duxys winter warmer).

 

For example here is a long exposure image taken in january of this year, http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=49820&p=347899 what makes it stand out for me is the fact that i did twelve exposures with the gel on the torch with just 4Kg on me on one dive and at no point was i "floating of to the surface".

 

In true goose style i forgot to bring down the pre made weight belt for the tripod, and in turn i then at 15m had no choice than to pull out a weight pocket to sort out the tripod issue:

 

In fact setting a shot up like this i had to:-

 

* Set the timer on the camera to approx 20 seconds delay.

* Fin like a mad man being very careful not to kick up the sand to the starting point to the left of the image.

* Once the timer had finished and start of the exposure then follow the contour of the rocks and in turn switching of and on of the torch and continuing the shot to the end of the 30 second exposure.

* Finning back to the camera to check the exposure and make any adjustments to the image.

* Repeat 12 times.

 

In short i could never have done this image on eight Kilos and I'm glad i forgot my weight belt as it also taught me you don't need loads of weight when diving and the dive guides are right.

 

The difference between a self Isolation between a trilaminate and a 4.5mm neoprene dry suit is negligible as I've worn both with the same under suit and found no extra weight is needed. I will say that my ankle weights do come in handy when my mates forgot to put his weight belt on. lol

 

Goose

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You are of course allowed to do whatever you want to and find good!

 

Anyway, I was thinking of more classical drysuit areas. For me that is alpine lakes with about 4-7°C temperature and not the Red Sea :-)

 

Air is what gives you the Isolation. The more Isolation that you need/want, the more air you need to add to your drysuit. ( The air is either trapped in the neoprene or

added into the drysuit.) The more air that you add in your drysuit, the more weights you need!

 

Wetsuit diving is a different ballgame, since the extra weight has no benefit.

 

/Erik

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I am using drysuit since a few years for all dives when I am doing photography. In both cases: warm water like RedSea or diving in cold water under the Ice, the buoyancy in dry suit can be controlled very well. But everyone need time to practice, and I would say that it is difficult to learning the photography and diving in dry suit at the same time. I figure out that diving in dry suit and side mount is a bit easier to get shots against surface because of a better flexibility of the body.

During taking a photo sometimes my legs goes up, and I stay with my head down. For this You have to control the buoyancy with BCD not with DrySuit.

Underwater Photographer behavior is quite close to technical diver, so any kind of training like GUE or any other I would recommend to became master of buoyancy and trim to get nice pictures :)

Edited by TomekP
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May I respectfully suggest a heavier pair of fins?
I was struggling with the same problem, dreading the time that I would have to don a drysuit... I even resorted to ankle weights ( to little avail), then, last year I bought a pair of the Mares 'Power Plana' - a heavier fin, and suddenly I enjoyed dry suit diving!

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Buoyancy control in a drysuit can be done with drysuit, BCD (or wing), or a combination. I have found the fit of the drysuit most critical if you use the drysuit for buoyancy. If the suit is a good fit, it's relatively easy. If the suit is too big, then the air bubble will move on you and that makes any extra air in the suit a pain to control. It can be done, but it's less fun.

 

As for fins, there's a reason many tech divers love those heavy rubber jet fins. Get spring straps. :-)

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