A few days ago, Eric Kessler and I finished our open water requirement to get PADI certified as SCUBA divers. I plan to shoot some unique stuff underwater in the next few years all over the world.
This was something I always wanted to do and apparently, Eric wanted to do it as well. So we became dive buddies for life.
Our classroom and pool sessions took place months ago in a small dive shop in Indiana. We both passed the tests with high marks and told the local dive shop that we would dive in warm water rather than an Indiana quarry with chunks of ice.
We scheduled our four open water dives in sunny and warm Key Largo Florida. This place is known for some amazing visibility, marine life and colorful reefs.
We dove Molasses Reef in Key Largo with Rainbow Reef Dive Center. Our dive instructor was Jardon and if you ever get the chance to dive in Florida, ask for him.
Our first two open water dives were great. We ran through a bunch of exercises like mask removal underwater, navigation, emergency ascent, buddy-out-of-air, ect.
That first day, visibility was almost 100 feet and we saw barracuda and even a 10 foot Caribbean reef shark! I put my naked fingers very close to a Moray eel, but quickly pulled them all back.
Our third dive was on a huge ship wreck. The wind had picked up, kicking up waves on the surface. This agitated the bottom and lowered viz to about 40 feet. I was surprised how much I liked diving the wreck. The thing was over 300 feet long and ominous sitting on the bottom of the ocean.
The fourth dive was our fun dive. We talked Jardon into letting us take our GoPros with us. Again, the viz was around 40 feet. Still good, but not like the day before. Eric and I really hoped to see another shark, but we were both happy to just record our first videos ever shot at 50 feet below the surface.
I built a GoPro diver rig with a metal bike hanger from Walmart. The hanger cost me $2.75. Eric had a much more refined rig that was powder coat black with high intensity dual LED lights.
I was impressed how easy it was to swim with a small GoPro rig, but surprised at how shaky the video came out. Both Eric and I were concentrating hard to produce steady shots. In our future dives, we will be using bigger neutral-boyant rigs and hope for better results.
Using a GoPro for the first time underwater is a good exercise, however, because shooting down there is such a different experience. The things I found similar to shooting topside was that I still think about foreground and light while under the water. Composition was not a factor since I did not have a viewfinder!!!
If you have the chance to learn SCUBA, I highly recommend it. And if you want to see what it is like without even getting your feet wet, check out the Descending television show. The first season is available on blu-ray.
Keep an eye on my blog, I will post what I can as we explore a brand new world under the waves.