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Ghiannis D, Part 2 – Exterior Views

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In Part 1 of my Ghiannis D blog about the inside of the Ghiannis D I showed a couple of pictures to try and convey the drama and light of the insides of this picturesque Northern Red Sea wreck.

So this time I’m going to show a collection of shots of the exterior to try and show how you can get very different shots by simply moving a small amount in the water column, switching your strobes on and moving around the different areas of the wreck.

Before though I will say that I think the best light for shooting the exterior of the Ghiannis D is in the afternoon, when the sun has moved around, and you are not facing into the light whilst getting the classic external picture of her stern.

Another good reason to do this is to avoid other groups in the water, as on a normal schedule she will generally be dived as the first dive, and in the afternoon you will dive one of the other three wrecks at Abu Nuhas.

To shoot the classic angle of her, you are best quite shallow, looking down on her. And simply using available light to capture her.

To shoot the classic angle of her, you are best quite shallow, looking down on her and simply using available light to capture her.

To shoot the classic angle of her, you are best quite shallow, looking down on her and simply using available light to capture her. There are a couple of alternative viewpoints to be had simply by moving around in an arc whilst staying at the same depth. From a technical viewpoint I’ve shot at an ISO of 200 at 1/50 sec at f6.3.

You need to be aware that with relatively slow shutter speeds like this there is a potential for micro shake, which is not normally visible on your camera’s LCD screen; and even though modern cameras have pretty good image stabilisers, this can still happen if you don’t concentrate and jab at your shutter release.

If you have a steady hand and good buoyancy you can get away with even slower speeds, but you will get a lower success rate as the speed drops.

Like in the previous shot, I've used a diver to add scale, and in this case I've composed horizontally or in landscape as its more commonly called.

Like in the previous shot, I’ve used a diver to add scale, and in this case I’ve composed horizontally or in landscape as it’s more commonly called.

Like in the previous shot, I’ve used a diver to add scale, and in this case I’ve composed horizontally or in landscape as it’s more commonly called. The above two pictures were taken three minutes apart, and I simply waited for the other diver to move into position. I also kept at the same depth but moved to the left a few metres.

I know a lot of people get annoyed with folk in their shots but I think seeing a diver connects us to the shot and can only heighten the drama and scale.

Neither of these two in these pictures were my buddies and in both cases I simply used them to make the shot, unbeknownst to them.

If you are working with a model and you can direct them, then all the better, however on a photo trip I try to avoid interfering with someone else too much, and usually just sneak shots like this. The technical settings are the same as with the previous shot.

If you keep moving around to your left another classic view will reveal itself. For this though you need to be a little deeper than for the previous pics.

If you keep moving around to your left another classic view will reveal itself. For this though you need to be a little deeper than for the previous pics.

If you keep moving around to your left another classic view will reveal itself. For this though you need to be a little deeper than for the previous pics. You need to properly plan and shoot a wreck dive, as it’s important to make sure you keep a good profile and avoid going up and down too much. If planned properly then you should avoid this. I like this angle as she appears to have slumped in resignation at her fate.

Like the previous pics the technical settings are pretty much the same as the light hasn’t changed over the course of these ten minutes. This doesn’t mean that this will be the same for you though, as the day we had was uncharacteristically overcast with a sandstorm that had blown over.

Being a little deeper now, myself and my buddy, who was lurking on the other side of the Wreck, decided to head off up towards the bow end.

She is separated quite distinctly bow and stern, and there is a section of the wreck which I always find quite graphically strong, so I try and get a little ahead of my buddy, so I can turn and frame them within this “V” shape.

I've scooted ahead to try and shoot my buddy coming across this section of the wreck, so I am now pointing back towards the stern area of the wreck.

I’ve scooted ahead to try and shoot my buddy coming across this section of the wreck, so I am now pointing back towards the stern area of the wreck.

I’ve scooted ahead to try and shoot my buddy coming across this section of the wreck, so I am now pointing back towards the stern area of the wreck. I am also still shooting just using available light at this point, so the technical settings are broadly similar, but very soon there is a good reason for me to turn on my strobes and mix things up a bit.

In amongst this section of the Wreck is an anemone and a couple of Clownfish, this though is buried well within the actual wreckage itself. So a whole new way of shooting needs to be adopted.

In amongst this section of the Wreck is an anemone and a couple of Clownfish; this though is buried well within the actual wreckage itself. So a whole new way of shooting needs to be adopted.

In amongst this section of the Wreck is an anemone and a couple of Clownfish; this though is buried well within the actual wreckage itself. So a whole new way of shooting needs to be adopted. Behind and around this anemone is very close jagged metal work, and definitely not enough room for my bulky frame, so to get this shot I have to shoot from the hip, with the front of my small dome one an inch or two from the body of the anemone.

There isn’t any room to see what’s on the screen or in the viewfinder, and I don’t have a right angle viewfinder… but to be honest it’s not that necessary once you get used to shooting from the hip.

Previous knowledge of this wreck has allowed me to pre-empt these shots, but on a photo week, these are things I’ll cover usually after the guide has given the regular dive briefing.

This shot required me to switch from available light to using my strobes, and the technical issues were getting my strobes in nice and close to the dome, but still back so as to avoid backscatter, and then gauging the correct exposure. I normally get my strobe exposure set on my hand before I move in for the actual shot, placing my hand in the position of the subject, or where I think it will be if I’m shooting from the hip like this.

I took a quick test shot of the subject to make sure I’d got the exposure right. I will also usually switch from autofocus to manual focus, as the camera, even with the huge depth of field of a fisheye lens, when this close can get the focus off a little.

All I had to do then was wait for my buddy Christian to swim where I think he would appear in the frame and take a couple of shots; this was the one where all the elements fell into place.

Phew! a bit of a logistical headache I agree, but worth it and the more you practice these techniques, and change from available light to strobes, then the easier these things will become.

Up at the the bow we were treated to a flickering shimmering lightship of silversides swirling around like millions of shards of glass, catching the light as they changed direction.

They are very reflective, so the flash exposure can be a bit hit and miss to be honest, and this shot was my personal favourite; but annoyingly I had placed Chris too far to the edge of the frame, so I moved him a tiny bit to the left using the Content Aware technology within Adobe Photoshop.

My buddy who I moved slightly to the left by "cheating" in software

My buddy who I moved slightly to the left by “cheating” in software

Another shot above where I’ve mixed available and strobe light.

After spending a bit of time with the silversides watching them swirl about, we both took some shots of the actual bow itself. To be honest I didn’t get any great pictures on this occasion, so was happy that we were going to visit her again on this trip – another great reason why a specific photo itinerary is the best way to get the shots you want.

It was getting towards safety stop time so we moved shallower and headed back amidships, and there was a few more different angles that I like to shoot before finishing the dive.

I like the safety stop area of the Ghiannis D and there are lots of great unusual angles to be had.

I like the safety stop area of the Ghiannis D and there are lots of great unusual angles to be had.

I like the safety stop area of the Ghiannis D and there are lots of great unusual angles to be had whilst the last few minutes tick away, so rather than just twiddling my thumbs, I like to use the time productively – and in and around the shot line there are loads of picture opportunities.

You have to be a bit careful though as it can get quite swelly, so keep an eye on your depth and position. I like this more abstract angle of the funnel on the Ghiannis which leads the eye into the shot and back down towards the stern.

Being quite close to the funnel, I’ve also used a touch of strobe to bring out a bit of contrast and the colour of the Banner Fish using the top of the wreckage to shelter in. This also provides a splash of yellow contrasting against the duller wreckage to lead your eye in to the shot.

OK, I hope you’ve liked this particular photo tour around the Ghiannis D and it’s by no means the only way to shoot her, but all of these pictures were taken in the one dive. You might want to shoot over parts of her on another dive, but I hope these have given you some ideas.

The trick is to talk about the shots you want with the guide, your buddy or me if you’re on one of my trips… and make a plan and stick to it.

[hr style=”single”]

Scuba Travel new logoDuxy is the in house photo-pro for UK-based dive tour operator Scuba Travel. To find out about availability on Scuba Travel’s underwater photography workshops hosted by Duxy click here.

Duxy has worked for nearly 20yrs in the dive industry, starting at the pointy end of dive tourism in Sharm as a guide and videographer, transitioning into a fixture back home in the U.K. helping and advising on all things underwater photographic, and as a popular speaker at shows and dive clubs delivering talks. He now works as the in house photo-pro for ScubaTravel and has conducted nearly 40 overseas workshops for them, helping all flavours of underwater photographer with everything from GoPro's to DSLR's to improve their shots. He speaks fluent Geek but his motto is that what really counts at the end of the day is 'pictures not pixels'.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 4

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 4 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

We are all back to the house reef today; the weather is lovely, the sea calm, the tide will soon be slack, so a great day’s diving in store.

A few yards away from the beach dive centre, on the Roots’ beach is their day time restaurant. It is where we take lunch when diving, and there is a continual supply of tea, coffee and soft drinks, and some marvellous lunches.  There are also male and female toilets and a fully accessible toilet for those using wheelchairs.

A few thoughts around working with amputees and those who have paraplegia. Firstly amputees – the part of the limb remaining is known as the ‘stump’, and we have worked with a substantial number of bilateral leg amputees (both legs), single leg amputees and single arm amputees.  The level of amputation can be above or below the knee or elbow, or through the knee. In one case the amputation was transpelvic and in another through the shoulder.  Some like Chris Middleton have one leg amputated above the knee and one below the knee.  This is rare, but each type of amputation offers a different challenge.

Many people think the amputation is clean and the skin neatly tidied up after surgery. Although that occurs in a few cases, in most the stump is rather rugged.  Elasticity of the skin around the stump is often exceptionally poor and can easily be damaged.  Some of our beneficiaries, as they were injured as young men, suffered from heterotopic ossification – this is where the bone tries to grow after amputation and often penetrates the skin, resulting in further surgery being required to cut back the bone and of course the stump needs to be restitched.  Very often stumps are sealed with skin from elsewhere on the body.

Swars kitting up

Few divers have never experienced a graze or cut underwater but such an experience for those with amputations can have serious consequences.  Stumps are more likely to get cut or grazed as the skin is so tight. We all know that there are lots of infections in seawater and if infected the cut or graze can cause very serious problems for the amputee.  Tailored wetsuits are one preventative measure, as are daily stump checks, making sure there is no damage and if there is, applying medication and or protecting the stump.

Those with paraplegia provide an additional challenge, not being able to feel their lower limbs they can easily damage them, so cuts, abrasions, and even sunburn can go unnoticed.  Donning a full-length wetsuit can be a challenge as toes can easily be broken and hairs pulled out of legs.  On the Deptherapy Education Professionals’ Course we show how to fit a wetsuit properly.

In recent discussions between our dive medicine advisor Mark Downs and our VP Richard Castle, who is a consultant psychologist, we have been looking at areas for further medical research in terms of diving for those with disabilities.  One area of suggested study is thermoregulation. The theory is that those with amputations and those with paraplegia suffer more with the cold as their body is unable to regulate heat. Certainly, in Corey’s case, he feels the cold more quickly than those diving with him. Chris Middleton can feel the cold more quickly than others with amputations but that may well be that Chris is muscle and bone where, to put it nicely, others have a more substantial covering.

Some AMEDs and Dive Referees will not sign off amputees as being fit to dive. That is their professional opinion and although we can show that even triple amputees are more than capable divers, capable of progressing to Rescue Diver standard even, they still refuse to sign them off. Last year Oli and Mark invited us to speak at the UK Annual Hyperbaric Medicine Conference in London where Josh Boggi, the world’s first triple amputee Rescue Diver and a Deptherapy beneficiary spoke about how amputees can become safe and successful divers.

Corey, Swars and Michael

For Corey, he wears full leg coverings and diving boots in the water; as he cannot use his legs there is no purpose in wearing fins.

Another point around amputations is that most of the general population make an assumption that a leg amputation is the result of a traumatic incident.  That is incorrect; by far the majority of leg amputations in the UK are the result of diabetes. Those whose legs are amputated as a result as diabetes are more likely to have poor healing of the stumps.  This also presents an issue of comorbidity that may well result in an AMED or Dive Referee declining to sign them off as ‘fit to dive’.  If signed off you would need to be very aware of the health of a stump; I certainly would not take someone with an open wound diving and the fact that they will be on medication for the diabetes.  You also have to be aware that they may well be on other medication to manage pain etc.

You need to be very clear with those who have paraplegia and other conditions that they must let you know if they start to feel cold.

Managing air – diving just using your arms for propulsion can, for many, be very tiring and a considerable amount of effort is required.  This, plus other factors, may result in enhanced air consumption by the diver.  This may increase if a current is encountered, even one which most divers who have use of their legs and dive with fins would not cause the least concern.

Within Deptherapy we very much work on the ‘rule of thirds’ – a third of your air to get you down and to see what you want to see, a third to get you back to the surface and a third in reserve.  This in most circumstances will ensure no ‘low on air’ or ‘out of air’ situations.

Say if we have 210 bar in a cylinder that means 70 bar out, so turn on 140 bar, 70 bar to return and to the surface so we should have 70 bar reserve at the surface.

We also work our students through SAC rates and looking at the air consumption of others in their team.

Checking the team’s air frequently during a dive is stressed to all our Pro team.

Keiron became very engaged with this concept as the result of the online RAID study for his Master Rescue Diver.

On expeditions we normally dive in small teams, a DM/TDM with three programme members.  They work as a team and understand each other’s air consumption. Of course, they also dive as buddy pairs.

Today offered perfect conditions for diving, and Keiron, Moudi, and this time TDM Oatsie were kitted up and in the water within minutes.

Pause for thought… those with paraplegia will have different toileting arrangements to those who do not have the condition. This also applies to some who have suffered traumatic limb loss.  They may use catheters for urination, some may have Stoma bags etc.  This all has to be planned into your dive schedule to ensure the safety and comfort of your student.  For young people talking about these very personal arrangements may be very difficult.  Those with Stoma bags may be embarrassed by people seeing them.  This is another part of seeing beyond the injury or condition – it is the person inside that you are dealing with.

Corey on the Roots House Reef

So, Corey, Michael and myself were joined by Swars.  Swars, although he joined the DM programme at the same time as the other guys, because of work commitments was unable to join us in September 2019 at Roots where we ran a DM introductory programme alongside the crossover of our Pro Team to RAID.  Swars has become a really good mate; he is a great diver, with an engaging personality.

Michael and Oatsie were a known quantity to me as they had been on the September 2019 programme and both have travelled to my home dive centre Divecrew in Crowthorne, Berkshire, to work on courses, pre-COVID.  During COVID Michael and I, plus a few of the guys from Divecrew, have dived at Wraysbury together.

Just as Roots is our base in Egypt, Divecrew is our base in the UK, and through this relationship, Martin (who owns Divecrew with his wife Sue) is one of our trustees. Together they have established a centre where pretty much 100% of the Pros are Deptherapy Education trained.

I asked Swars straight away to brief a dive for Corey. I gave him the briefing slate, a few tips and then ten minutes later he came back with a perfect briefing… and I mean perfect.  So, a great briefing under his belt; now to watch him work with Corey in open water. He looked the Pro, he knew what he should be doing, he understood his role. We assigned Michael as Corey’s buddy and said he would lead the dive. I was there to assess the TDMs and supervise very closely Corey’s skill demonstrations.

Again, it comes as no surprise that many beneficiaries in Deptherapy can move straight into dive management, as several were NCOs, as was Swars, and they are used to briefing individuals and teams.

We had decided that we would mix up the dives required to complete Corey’s OW 20 RAID dives with some general diving as trim and swimming arm action are all important. We also needed to concentrate on spatial awareness.

We agreed a signal for horizontal trim and Swars reinforced the swim stroke that Corey needed to do to get propulsion.  Every time Corey moved out of horizontal trim Swars was there reminding him about trim and reminding him of his swim stroke.

The Roots’ House Reef is amazing – at a metre you encounter a shoal of black Damselfish, at 3 metres a shoal of Unicornfish, there are Butterflyfish and all manner of other fishes in great profusion.  The coral is in great condition. It really is a place of beauty and tranquillity.

Oatsie and Swars relaxing by the Roots pool after a long day

Although we had problems getting Corey underwater again, once we got him in skill demonstration mode his anxieties disappeared.  We then took him diving. Steve Rattle, the owner of Roots joined us and was taking photos that provide a great record of the week’s diving.  Steve commented on the quality of Swars and Michael’s supervision and control underwater of Corey and gave them feedback on how impressed he was.

Meanwhile on the RAID Master Rescue Course, Oatsie who was in the same Regiment, same Platoon and Section as Keiron in Afghanistan was more than willing to be a very uncooperative victim for his brother-in-arms.  I think Keiron gave Oatsie some feedback about this!

For me this was a hard week, combining running the RAID OW 20 for Corey but also the assessment of our three TDMs.  A week underwater but no opportunity to dive for myself.  People often think Deptherapy Expeditions are holidays for the Dive Team; they are not, it is hard work and I mean hard work.

Tomorrow is Day 4 in the water Day 5 of our trip. We are on the House Reef again, and things are starting to come together. Join us back here on Monday 26th October…

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Competitions

WIN an XDEEP Radical Frameless Mask!!!

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Yes, XDEEP have now officially called their excellent frameless mask the ‘Radical’, and in this week’s competition, we’ve got another one to give away!

The XDEEP Radical Frameless Mask is a large single lens dive mask with a soft silicone skirt and traditional strap. The frameless design brings the lens closer to your face so you get a wider FOV and less internal volume that you have to equalise and clear. The larger nose pocket makes the mask more comfortable and easier to equalise, even with thick gloves.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can find here), we reported that you can join Reef-World and a panel of industry experts at the first ever Scuba.Digital for an open discussion on green tourism and how this might be shaped by a post-corona world. But when can you join Reef-Word’s Sustainable Diving event on the main stage of Scuba.Digital 2020?

Is it:

  • A) 3pm BST on Friday 23rd October 2020
  • B) 3pm BST on Saturday 24th October 2020
  • C) 3pm BST on Sunday 25th October 2020

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Nautilus Diving XDEEP Frameless Mask October 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, employees of Nautilus Diving and their families, or XDEEP and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 02/11/20. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

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