Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Occasionally I get people who can't understand how I can possibly spend so much time underwater. Ok, the truth is, I get comments like that all the time. People wonder what it is I'm doing down there all that time? Haven't I seen everything there is to see after thousands of dives? And why would I want to carry a tank that weighs a ton just so I can stay underwater longer than most people? All legitimate questions I suppose, but only if you have never gone diving and actually experienced the magic that is waiting for you down there.

Since I have started diving with a camera in my hand at all times, it changes the way I dive, and it changes how carefully I look at everything. I find myself looking in every little hole and under as many rocks as I can. You just never know where the really cool critters are going to be hiding. And since it seems there is a never ending supply of things to take pictures of, the more time I can spend underwater without having to come up, the more things I can take pictures of. And I have been known to sit in one spot and take dozens of pictures of the same subject. Some from the top, some from the side, from the front, from the back, and from the bottom. You just never know how some of these things are identified, so it's good to take as many pictures of them as you can. Sometimes you have to wait for the sediment in the water to settle down for a clear shot, and sometimes you are waiting for the sun to come back out to help out with the lighting.

Most people dive with an 80 cubic foot aluminum tank that holds 3000 pounds per square inch of compressed air. I dive with a 130 cubic foot steel tank that holds 3442 pounds per square inch of compressed air. An 80 will weigh about 33 pounds, while mine weighs over 50. Most people are doing good to get about an hour of downtime on an 80 cu. ft. tank. I have been known to stay down for 3 hours in the Grotto on my tank. I do dive safely with a computer, so I know exactly how long I have to spend on my decompression stop, which sometimes goes over an hour. But I come back with some very cool pictures because I have the time to spend waiting for just the right shot, or exploring looking for unique nudibranchs or other sea life. And I also like having plenty of extra air just in case somebody else runs short and needs some extra air.

When you have lots of time to just stare at things and wait to see if they move, they discover things like this Leaf Scorpionfish, which I probably would have never seen or recognized before. It acts just like a leaf, and looks like a leaf as it blows back and forth in the currents. It only uses it's side fins to help it position itself or get a little extra boost as it is trying to get somewhere. To me one of the greatest things about underwater photography is that it allows me to share all the underwater wonders with people like Kelli, who got certified years ago, but hasn't done any diving since. She does still enjoy seeing it, but would prefer seeing it through my camera lense as opposed to up close and personal.

No, diving never gets old to me, and is never boring. I see something new and unique on almost every single dive. And being able to share it with others, whether taking them down on their very first dive, or just letting them see my pictures makes it even more enjoyable to me.