The diver

Cave diver with a DPV in a cenote

Cave diver with a DPV in a cenote
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Behind The Lens

This photo was taken in El Pit Cenote in Mexico. Most divers who visit this location enter where the light rays are streaming in. We rode our scooters for almost 2 hours to get here. A lot more work with 4 tanks per diver plus much harder logistics, but an awesome ride with a beautiful scene to photograph.
This image was taken around 11am in February. The light rays change directions based upon the time of year. In the summer they will shine straight down for a period of the day giving a very different look than what I captured here.
I wanted a silhouette look so metering was based upon the background light rays. I did shine my underwater flashlight at the diver to give a slight bit of light to the scooter. We entered the area when I knew the light would be streaming in to give me the look I wanted.
This was shot on a canon r5 in an ikelite underwater housing (200DL) on a Canon 15-35mm lens. I had an ikelite strobe attached to the camera, but did not have it fire for this image.
Cave diving has allowed me to see some of the most beautiful scenes in the world. There's something about seeing the light streaming into a cave at the end of the dive that is magical, especially after a number of hours in complete darkness. Every cave is different, but I love the look whenever you have a sinkhole entrance that gives the long light rays.
Very little post processing was needed. The biggest part was making sure to not blow the highlights too much. Caves have an obscene amount of dynamic range since most everything is black. An image that doesn't show the extreme light variance would look unnatural. The challenge is finding that perfect balance of slightly blown out, but not too much. Other than that, just boosting some of the shadows then adding in some mid-tones contrast.
In my camera bag
For underwater photos, housing, ports, extra o-rings, lubricant, screwdrivers, vacuum pump, chargers, batteries along with all the standard camera stuff one needs. Tampons are actually very helpful to deal with moisture hazing inside your housing. In humid environments (which most diving sites are) once you trap that humid air with your camera in the housing then go into colder water, you can get some fog on the ports. Dropping a tampon in the housing before closing it up can help avoid this from ever happening.
If you want good cave diving photos, spend a lot of time getting to be a good diver first. This kind of diving can kill you if you're not properly trained and practiced. Adding a camera into the mix can often have you not paying attention to important things that can cause you problems. You have to pay attention to your breathing mix, amount of gas, buoyancy, etc. Really understanding how to take properly exposed images quickly is also important. If you're taking pictures during a normal dive, you won't have a lot of time to capture an image over and over again. You need to get it right on the first or second try. Divers are moving, you're moving and at some point (faster than you want) you have to turn the dive to get out safely.

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