Keep checking our technique pages, as I post the simple skills that
will get you taking great shots in no time at all.
I have condensed these tips and tricks down from years of coaching beginners
to shoot underwater with the minimum of fuss or flannel.
A quick recap about part one of our Planning and Shooting a Wreck Picture
Ultimately it was about taking into consideration the safety aspects of you and your buddy for a typical wreck shot that involved operating at around the 30m mark. So before you even take a shot you need to be both aware of things like your no deco limits, gas mix, and time allowed to have a safe margin to enable you to take your photographs. This is always going to be relevant unless your wreck happens to be in very shallow water. And this is only for non penetrative shots, its a whole other ball game when you are planning to shoot the inside of a wreck, which we will look at in the final part of this series.
Who are your buddies?
Ok, now onto the next scenario. this was quite a different situation for a number of reasons. Firstly I was now working, conducting a workshop, for the previous weeks shot on the Thistlegorm I was with my partner on holiday so straight away there was a totally different set of psychological circumstances to factor in, ie on holiday I'm more relaxed in general and I'm very familiar with my buddy in and out of the water. With the best will in the world, I'm never as comfortable in the water with people I don't regularly dive with, and there are really only a handful of my fellow divers I completely trust. I had however had the luxury of diving alongside these people earlier in the week, and was completely satisfied that they weren't going to compromise theirs or mine safety. Like it or not this will affect your air consumption, even if you feel totally calm with your potential buddies, there will still be unknowns lurking at the back of your mind, that will raise your breathing rate, even if only slightly, and then add all that to the extra task loading you will be under.
When diving with a group with the same goals you need to have a pre planned idea of what you want to achieve.
Talk things through before the dive
These are all things you need to think about, well before you think about taking any pictures. This all may sound a tad dramatic, but I have seen folk do some strange things whilst underwater, and it’s not worth taking unnecessary chances. Again good communication is vital, people often react totally different when various social pressures are placed upon them, so try and cultivate an open attitude yourself, it will encourage others to voice their opinions, and if they don't express themselves pre dive, gently ask them to. No harm done on dry land, and better to air any doubts prior to going underwater. It should also be a given that things like, whether or not your little group is all diving Nitrox is known, if one isn't then you'll have to make your plan factoring their air mix into the equation. This is because it's important to know about any deco limits that your party may encounter. Again I have found that sometimes folk with less experience, or for any number of other reasons may not always mention that they may be in deco or close to deco, whilst you may be fine and have loads of a margin remaining. So establish some ground rules, regarding checking each other before entering the water.
Pick your model carefully
So in this case we had decided to base our dive at the Chrisoula K, with the first half of our dive being spent around the area of the prop and the stern, as this would initially be our goal, a picture of our model to give some scale for a stern shot, in this case one of Tornado Marine's trainee dive guides Mousa, who had kindly offered his services. This was a great relief to have a very experienced diver to take pictures of, as they normally don't move around too much and can hold position when asked, and as an added bonus being a guide, can be relied upon to have their and our safety as something uppermost in their mind. All this adds to the psychological comfort of the plan.
Again I can imagine some folk at this point thinking that this is all a bit OTT, I’m a competent diver I don’t need to be told this stuff. As an ex-guide though I am well used to heading off problems before they occur, and I am no longer surprised when people I should have faith in because of their abilities on paper, do something worrying, and also people with much less experience when surrounded with more experienced people don't always voice their concerns, so please forgive me if you think I'm being over cautious here.
Right back to the shot itself, we were descending right on the stern itself, and the early morning sunlight was shining helpfully over our shoulders looking directly at the wreck illuminating nicely the port side and the prop. We had spoken to Mousa regards where we wanted him positioned to start with, and this was to be a few metres above the stern itself in relatively shallow water. This shot was best illuminated with the best light source at our disposal, i.e. the sun. So available light all the way here.
This was sort of the idea of having our model Mousa initially positioned high above the stern of the Chrisoula K of course we all would have envisioned slight variations on this theme.
We all had to take our turn to get our shots, alternating between shooting and then reviewing before retaking if necessary
This meant alternating between the three of us that were using Mousa as a model, getting a few shots, and then moving out of the way for the next person, and whilst this was happening reviewing our shots, this allows you to make sure your exposure and sharpness is fine, and then when its your turn next you can go in and re adjust for any errors. After we had all got those shots we had agreed for Mousa to descend towards the deeper area around the prop to get some shots from lower angles with the prop itself featured more prominently. Here I used a mix of strobe and ambient light to get the exposure correct. If you want a refresher on how to do this then check out an earlier blog I did entitled Underwater Flash Simplified
Here later in the session Mousa has descended to pose at the prop, its worth thinking about the depths of your model, and start with the shots where the model and you will be shallower at the beginning of the session.
So all being well, all three of us stayed safe, number one priority, and also hopefully got some good shots on our cards. For the remainder of the dive, around half an hour or so, we had decided to make a small penetration into the Chrisoula K and as there was next to no surge, a rarity at this site, we made our way to the bow which is in shallow water and also very well lit for available light shots.
My choice of shot for the end of the dive actually turned out to be a portrait of our guide and friend Reda Mohammed, in the shallows whilst on our safety stops. So just because you are about to finish doesn't mean that there aren't any valid photo opportunities.
Here I got an available light shot of our guide Reda as we waited on our safety stop at the end of the dive, so don't put your camera away until you really have to as there are always shots to be had.
Ok, for the third and final segment of our short series on planning and shooting a wreck photo I will have a look at shooting inside your wreck of choice and the various special considerations you will encounter.