With Dive Rutland I have been lucky enough over the last few years to have visited some amazing countries and dived many stunning dive sites. I have dived on amazing wrecks, pristine reefs and met up with some wonderful people in the process. We all keep a record of our dives in our logbook, religiously logging the number of dives, the location, dive time, depths etc but how do you recall and recount what you have seen to family and friends on your return from the amazing trip, photographs and video of course.
Well in this technological age there are many options for underwater video using a GoPro, Paralenz or even your smartphone in a waterproof case but these are limited to what detail they can capture and for this is where underwater camera’s come into their own. Most have the option to record video as well as take photographs but it is when you get down to the small and macro photography that things really change up a gear but don’t need to cost the earth to buy. Yes we have all seen the guys on the trip with camera rigs the size of a small car, with more arms than an octopus that light up the reef like a search & rescue helicopter and a dome on the front bigger than the O2 but you don’t need that to get good pictures that you can be proud of with a little practice and some polishing of your basic dive skills.
Now I love going to these amazing places, getting the pictures and video of whale sharks, Turtles, and Threshers, pictures of majestic wrecks rising from the sea bed with video as I explore through them but my true passion is the small critters and creatures that most divers swim past and don’t even see. The little multi -coloured nudibranch, the glass shrimps, spider crabs, harlequin shrimps, pygmy seahorse and much, much more. If you had actually stopped for a moment on the reef and looked carefully you would be surprised at what is there that you would not have otherwise seen. Diving is supposed to be relaxing and there is nothing more relaxing than moving slowly over the reef studying what is inhabiting the different corals, sponges and rocks with the added bonus that you will use less air than if you are racing around the reef.
Now there are things that you need to concentrate on to get those good pictures and the main one is buoyancy, if your buoyancy isn’t good then you wont have time to get that picture before your position changes and the subject of your picture is then out of focus. This is even more important if you are taking macro photo’s as the focal distance of your lens is much smaller. But the most important thing of all is that you do not want to be crashing into the reef with your knees, body or fins and smashing up the coral and destroying the one thing you are taking photo’s of. The answer to this is quite simple, sign up for the peak performance buoyancy speciality where you will learn to control your buoyancy better, so in turn will get better photos.
Other divers will appreciate this as well as you will not be kicking up sand or silt with your fins as you move away from taking your pictures, ruining the shot for the next photographer who is waiting patiently behind you. Streamline your dive profile by tucking away all of your dangling equipment, if you are going to be getting close to the reef it is no good having brilliant buoyancy if your equipment is hanging down and smashing into the reef so tidy it away in your BCD pockets, clip it up safely.
The next thing is get to know your camera, read the manual thoroughly and play with it out of the water. Get to know where all of the buttons are and what they do before you take it on that trip, if you have wet lenses for it (lenses that you can change underwater for wide angle or macro) get used to how to fit them and remove them, setting the white balance for different depths and different water conditions all take time to learn and for you to become accustomed to so that you can do the task swiftly without it distracting you for too long. Sign up for the Digital underwater photographer speciality or underwater videographer speciality because diving throws up challenges that you don’t get elsewhere with a camera so this is where you will learn how your digital camera works, pre and post dive camera care, surface checks before you dive, how depth has an effect on colour, lighting using internal flash and strobes, backscatter just to name a few things.
If you are a dive Rutland club member (or even if not you can still use the pool for a small cost) then talk to Tracey and arrange to come along on one of the Tuesday or Saturday pool sessions and get used to using your camera in the water otherwise that once in a lifetime picture wont get taken because you will still be playing around with your camera while everyone else is celebrating that amazing moment and the greatest picture they have ever taken but you won’t have seen it and won’t have the pictures either.
Anyone that accompanies us on any of our trips or visits the Dive Centre at Dive Rutland will find that there are a few staff members and club members who are keen photographers and videographers. Mark is the self-confessed video guru who loves his underwater video rig (seen his video of the club trip to the Philippines in 2019? and then underwater photography is the realm of Tracey, Rick and James and anyone who gets into conversation about nudibranch’s with Tracey will find that is her passion for photography, Tracey loves Nudi’s of all shapes, sizes and colours, put her in a house on poles above a reef full of Nudi’s with an endless supply of air, Nirvana, Valhalla, the promised land!
Written by Rick Smith
Dive Rutland is the trading name for Dive Rutland Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 9433835.
Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE