Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of what some entry-level tech diving skills do to help you take better macro photos.
Trim and Buoyancy Skills. Macro photographers spend a lot of time sitting right on the bottom or just above it and movement of several millimeters can ruin your shot. Trim for any diving should be perfectly horizontal.
Breathing Rate and Gas Planning. If you’re doing macro dives, start keeping track of your Surface Air Consumption (SAC, or sometimes called “Surface *Gas* Consumption”) and Respiratory Minute Volume (RMV). Better air consumption means longer dives which means more photos. Knowing your averages and how to use them also means better dive planning. Better gas planning means longer dives but safer because you know where the limits are. You can also do rock bottom calculation… as you descend, keep track of your gas usage getting to the bottom and use that plus a gas reserve as your limit to begin your ascent. Macro divers usually have the square dive profile (down, stay at the same depth, come up) that works well with this method.
Movement. A handful of tech diving propulsion techniques will make your macro diving life so much easier.
- Frog Kick. Used by tech divers because it doesn’t kick up the silt inside of caves and wrecks: the fins push water upwards and back, not down. On a macro dive, this also means that you don’t cause a lot of backscatter for yourself or others.
- Modified Flutter. Knees bent, fins high, and little kicks front and back at the knees.
- Reverse Frog. Can help you back up on a subject if you get too close.
- Helicopter Turn. Frog kick on one side, reverse frog kick on the other. Helps you to spin around like a helicopter to get a better angle on the subject without moving forward or backward.
Gear. This goes into a bunch of different points.
- Some of the principles of Hogarthian diving rigs–used in various brand types and levels of strictness–make a lot of sense for macro divers: backplate and wings for perfect trim, simplified and reliable gear, etc.
- You shouldn’t have any dangling gear to catch on the bottom. Since we’re close to the bottom most of the time, this is a big safety issue for yourself and for the animals on the bottom.
- Jet-style fins (I have 2 pairs of Apeks RK3 in different sizes for wet and dry diving) make frog kicking and repositioning easier.
- Thigh pockets for backup torches. Photography is all about light, and backup video torches can make the difference between improvising a lighting studio and aborting a photo dive.
- Solo Diving Gear. Redundant air supply, spare mask, and a couple of cutting devices. You have to be able to fix problems by yourself because buddies aren’t close enough to get to you in a timely manner.
- Slung stage cylinder for redundant air supply.
Self-Sufficiency. Being self-sufficient in a diving sense means that you can solve diving problems underwater by yourself. You become a “Self-Rescuing Princess”, as I refer to myself sometimes.
See you underwater!!!