Below the surface

When you are filmning under the waterline there are some additional challenges to manage compared to normal video shooting.

In early December, we were in Cuba for a two weeks leisure trip. Most of the time, we stayed at an old resort in the small vlllage of Playa Giron. This is one of the few places in the world where you can go scubadivning at a huge coral wall right from the beach. It was very convenient to make two dives before an all-inclusive lunch and then relaxing at the pool with free drink or a going for a adventurous trip in the landscape after lunch. 

This trip was therefore a very good excuse to buy a new GoPRO action camera with an included UW-housing suitable for diving down to 60 meters. This is far deeper than you will go during regular scuba diving so it was a perfect match. With a cost for both camera and housing much less than a new house to my existing Nikon J1 camera was this a very favorable deal for me. It became an even better deal with the discount offered at the store due to the release of a new model.

First of all, If you want to take stills or shoot video more than a few meters below the surface, you need to be a certified scuba diver. You should also be such a skilled diver so you can master buoyancy without using your inflator to much. The diving conditions should then be so good that you can concentrate on the the camera without sacrificing your and your buddy's safety.

The dive sites at Playa Giron all met these preconditions. More than 20 m sight, +28 C in the water, no tides, no current and a shelter bay with little waves. Except for the caves, very easy diving with lot of coral and many different spices of fish. I also have more than a hundred dives in different conditions around the world.

The preparations for the first dive was to put in a large 32 Gbyte memory card and a new fresh battery.  When you have begun your dive, you can't go up and change card or battery. I had equipped the housing with a floating back door and attached a string with piston hank to avoid losing it during the dive. Wise from an an earlier dive in Malta some years ago, I checked the rubber gasket when closing the housing. It's not so fun to find out that the camera is soaking wet at 18 meters depth.

Sadly, I did't have spare batteries with me to Cuba and things like this were nowhere find on the island. The were also out of stock at my regular camerashop in Stockholm, Kameradoktorn, and at Charles de Gaulle airport. 

The deeper you go, the more the colors dissapear. The red colors is the first to vanish and deeper depths, everything is more or less blue. If you want to have true colors in you footage, you have to bring your own light source. Otherwise, you have to do some manipulation in post processing, but it can't be as good as with correct lightning.

I have not yet seen a diver with a large video tripod in the water. It is probably possible to use a small Gorilla-pod of something similar. Often, you will use some kind of DIY-rig to stabilize your filming. 

As it was the first time I was video filming, I didn't bring extra lightning or a rig with me in my luggage. For leisure diving, it's probably overkill, but if you would like to have the best quality, I would recommend it. As Cuban fried who is celebrated photographer and an long-time scuba diver use it all the the time and it really makes a difference.

The GoPRO 3 Black edition is an amaizing gadget that gives very good footage, but you have no monitor or eye-piece so you don't know exactly what you are capturing when filming. On-shore, you can use an iOS device as a second monitor, but this is not so easy below surface. Finally, with a new camera, you have to practice to master the controls. 

Have nice dives wherever you are, taking really good photos and video-clips to share with family and friends at home.