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Tips for photo-taking in current (drift dives)?

Discussion in 'Underwater Photography' started by ScubaJill, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    22,823
    6,027
    Drift diving is one reason I've never had much desire to dive Cozumel. I have dived a number of places around the world with strong currents and shooting is often not easy. In some dive locations there may be enough relief to find shelter behind a coral head, but often I've found I just wiz past the subjects almost before I even spot them. Combine that with the fact that many DMs in such areas require you to stick close to the group and lead the divers down current.
     
  2. lonebrave

    lonebrave Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Maryland
    363
    54
    When will you be there? I'd be interested to hear your about your experiences. I'll be diving with them in a few months and also am new to shooting while drifting.
     
  3. Nemrod

    Nemrod Contributor

    12,142
    2,347
    You will have difficulty in Cozumel, especially if sitting in one spot and futtzing around with macro crap is your cup of coffee. The current is typically strong to very strong and the groups that you are assigned too will drift with the current. If you get out front you run into the group ahead and if you hang back, the following group overtakes you. If not from your boat, another boat.

    I shoot mostly CFWA in such conditions, I try to position myself away from the group, out on one edge or the other so I can get shots without having arms and legs and large butts in the corners of my photos. I am very good on air consumption so while the group is largely drifting, I can power back and forth in a criss crossing pattern trying to get shots without the aforementioned body parts sticking in and still be the last or nearly so back on the boat.

    I try to imagine the shots I want BEFORE the dive and then when I see something that interest me, I try to quickly maneuver to position myself to let the current put me on it again BEFORE the group gets there so I can kind of make a loop around it.

    Here is one technique I use, outlast them, one by one, two or three by three, all the other divers run out of air and head up. The guides are generally very good on air consumption and my wife and I make them work to stretch it. I have stretched the dives until the DMs finally just call it because as one told us, he had to go potty and his eyes were crossed. :) Out last them, once it is just you and the DM, you can get some good shots.

    I put my wife on the DM, that way I always know where she is and I go, I go here, I go there, I go all over. These methods work everywhere I go in drift diving EXCEPT when diving with with my vintage buddies who unfortunately are as good or better than me (maybe) on air consumption and equally capable of stretching a dive until the computers explode in frustration!

    Sometimes it is useless trying to be first, so I put on the retro rockets and drag back, sometimes all the critters scared away by the crowds, come zooming back in to their hiding spots only to run into me.

    N
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
    ScubaJill likes this.
  4. ScubaJill

    ScubaJill Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Chesapeake Bay
    361
    146
    I'll be there this week. :) I'll send an update when I get back.
     
  5. klausi

    klausi Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Dumaguete, Philippines
    346
    224
    A few things ... if you are in a group, try to be the first diver. We tend to scare fish away. If you are in the front of the group, you will find more big fish.

    Then, get your camera settings right before you jump in. You will not have time to readjust in a current.

    Also, there is no point in struggling ... let the current move you towards the animals. If you see a groper/ray/jack ... just drift near him as inconspicuously as possible. Don't try swim against the current towards an animal, it will not work and you will waste air.
     
  6. sharky60

    sharky60 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: somewhere between Texas and Mexico
    3,306
    630
    I've been taking photos in Cozumel since 2003, so I know a little about drift diving and shooting.

    1. If you are on the move over the top of a reef, or in a mid-range reef where you are basically flying over the bottom (Cedral Pass, Cozumel). anticipate your shot. look ahead, i.d. a subject, get your camera at arms length, and focus again with a little anticipation of your shot. This works well when you simply can not stop and have to shoot "on the fly"

    2. One technique for holding still without having to hold onto something, is to turn your head into the current and gently kick your fins to make yourself "hover", with a little practice, this works very well.

    3. on wall dives and diving around coral heads, use the in's and out's of the wall and coral to block the current so you can stay longer to shoot your subjects.

    4. if I'm on the edge of the "reef base" or where I can use the sand, I will anchor myself in the sand with a finger of two to hold still sometimes. (I'm shooting a compact camera so, shooting with one hand is sometimes viable because of the size of the rig)
     

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