Every photographer has been on a boat when someone has moaned about having to put up with them and sometimes you can understand why... our stuff's in their way, we hog all the space, we want special treatment. Yes, it's all true. There's a lot invested in the camera kit and our time in the water, we become highly focussed and excited, simply forgetting the old rules of courteous and careful diving.
Respect the marine environment | Carrying a camera changes the way we dive. Your eye seems forever glued to the viewfinder, you stop watching where you are going, judging distances goes up the spout and you are bound to put a hand down. Cross words get aired back on the boat. However, everyone needs to appreciate that there are times when you can touch stuff down there without doing either it – or yourself – any harm. Much of the underwater world is either dangerous, poisonous or fragile (or all of the above) so take time to learn what is and what isn't.
Look closely at the reef – right beside a bunch of coral might be some rather pretty looking algae. If you are forced to put a finger down for balance, look for the algae where the effect of your touch is minimal. Sandy patches or rocks are good contenders for a place to rest and look for a photo opportunity.
Never move an animal There are far too many tales of photographers or divemasters moving critters about to achieve the perfect shot. Lifting a creature like a seahorse from its holdfast to shoot it against a clear background may look great but could mean it never finds its way home again, losing its mate and young in the process. |
The 'six-frame'rule | Some photographers get so wound up in what they are doing they simply forget they have buddies nearby. Hogging the lone frogfish on a dive and not letting other divers even get a glimpse of the chap sitting on his sponge is just plain mean. We once spent a dive trip with a group that had more cameras between them than actual divers. After getting pretty frustrated at their finders-keepers attitude, and some sharp words on both sides, we instigated the six frame rule. It's quite simple... If you find it, you get to shoot off six frames then pass the subject over to whoever is nearby. Once everyone has had a look or taken 6 shots, you can go back. After all, critters rarely disappear, they are loyal to their homes and will hang around for the full photo shoot. This system improves the dive as a whole – as people become more willing to share their finds, everyone has more fun.
Never forget why you are there It's all too easy to get completely caught up in taking a picture but safety should be paramount in any diver’s mind. Diving that little bit too deep to chase a shark, or staying long enough to start sucking rust is crazy. Good buoyancy is more important than any other dive skill. Being able to hover effortlessly over a subject so that you can focus on it, is an amazingly useful knack and worth perfecting. Consider your actions with the camera and don't get so caught up that you endanger the very environment you came to admire.|