Becky Kagan Schott analyses the pros and cons of photography using a rebreather
PROS OF DIVING WITH A REBREATHER
There are quite a few reasons why rebreathers are helpful to serious photographers looking to take the next step. I’ve been diving on closed circuit rebreather (CCR) for eight years and it’s dramatically changed the way I can shoot.
A few benefits include:
1. Time: This is the biggest game changer
2. Stealth: No bubbles to scare away marine life, or get in the shot
3. Optimum mixture: Rebreathers maintain the best nitrox mix for every depth, giving you better profiles
CONS OF REBREATHER DIVING PHOTOGRAPHY
While there are benefits for photographers diving on rebreather, there are other considerations to think about and be aware of if you choose this route.
1. Task loading: Gain experience before taking a camera with you
2. Maintenance: Servicing and setup time
3. Awareness: Safety is important; be aware of distractions that take attention away from the rebreather for too long
A rebreather is a tool; it’s a life support machine that should be taken seriously. It requires a bit more maintenance than traditional scuba, about a week of training learning the unit inside out. It helps to know your camera system well before taking the plunge into CCR diving. It also helps to spend a lot of hours on the unit in order for it to become second nature before taking the camera back in the water. I personally like to take a safety diver with me on dives. That person can help with lighting, model, or just watch out for small mistakes that could be dangerous. I find it extremely comforting to have a competent dive buddy that dives the same unit in order to help let me focus more on my shots. This person can keep track of the boat, navigation, marine life, and help with the camera if needed.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
• Slow down and think creatively – because you have the time. Take the time to tweak the lighting in your shot. You don’t have to settle for a shot that you know you’ll look at later and wish you took the time to perfect. Try new things and experiment with old techniques.
• Being bubble-less is helpful for getting close to shy marine life like certain species of sharks. Find a location and stay still. It will be like you’re not even there, allowing the marine life to come closer. Be one with the reef, move slowly and non-aggressively. Being silent makes a big difference.
• Think longer dives. Most of the work when diving is getting on and off of a boat or walking to and from the dive site. I prefer to do one longer dive if possible and stay in the water versus getting in and out. I find I’m less tired and I’m a much happier photographer because I wasn’t stressed out about time and in a hurry. Oh, and have I mentioned that you can talk really easy through a rebreather loop?! There is a large airspace there, so if you speak slowly your models can hear you.