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A Guide to Underwater Wildlife Video & Editing: Part 7

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Underwater Video

Read Part 6 here.

A part serialisation of a book by Jeff Goodman

PART 7: Flat & Dome Ports

Having paid good money for your camera and housing, it would be a shame to now spoil your image quality with a cheap port.

The optical properties of your port are as important as the lens of your camera. A low quality port would be like putting the wrong pair of spectacles on a person, so although they could still see well enough, the images would be slightly soft or degraded.

Once again you usually get what you pay for. Often the problem of choosing your first port is solved for you by the housing manufacturer in that a particular housing and supplied port will be specially designed for optimum results with a particular camera and lens. It is always worth grilling the sales person that this is the case for the set-up you are interested in (In the semi-professional range of cameras and above, you can of course change camera lenses. It then becomes very important to use a compatible port).

No single port will cover all the types of filming you may like to do.

There are 3 main port types:

  1. The flat port which is mainly useful for macro work and good close ups.
  2. The standard dome port which covers most applications.
  3. The wide angle dome port for videoing ultra wide angle.
Underwater Video

Flat Port

Underwater Video

Dome Port

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flat or macro ports are great for filming close ups and macro but because of the refractive index effect as previously mentioned, this port will decrease the natural angle of coverage of the lens and so increase the apparent image size. These ports would not be the best for videoing large subjects such as whales or wrecks, especially if the water visibility is minimal and you have to get really close to see anything at all.

The standard dome port is a good option for covering a wide range of subjects and is probably the most widely used. These standard dome ports will compensate for the 1/3rd angle of coverage loss and restore your lens to normal coverage.

The wide angle port provides the maximum angle of coverage when used with a wide angle lens and is good for getting close to the subject but maintaining a wide perspective. These are particularly useful in temperate waters where the visibility may generally not be so clear. Many manufacturers of underwater housings put in a standard port by default.  More expensive housings will allow you to change ports which in effect is the same as changing lenses. Another option for some housings is to use a ‘wet’ wide angle adaptor which can be added to, or taken away from the flat port while still underwater. These ‘wet’ ports are very versatile but there is a small drop in quality when compared to a prime wide angle port.

Fisheye lens & port

Underwater VideoA fisheye lens and port give an even greater angle of coverage, but does so with a high degree of distortion. This will vary in degree from lens to lens. The effects can be quite dramatic and are usually better used with stills photography than video.

Zooming through a dome port

Not all dome ports, especially the cheaper ones, will facilitate a zoom and at the same time, keep focus. Auto focus can sometimes compensate for this but it is not guaranteed. And remember, if you do zoom in, then the depth of field will decrease. Generally zooming while actually filming can be very off-putting for an audience and so unless there is a very good reason for doing this then I would suggest you mainly use the function for re-sizing and framing your shot.

Scratched Ports

Underwater VideoA scratch or mark on your port can be a real pain. Scratches are more noticeable on glass ports than on Perspex ones. This is because Perspex or acrylic is roughly the same refractive index as sea water and so scratches are effectively filled by the water and visually removed. But with glass the refractive index is different and as light passes through a scratch it behaves differently from the rest of the port glass and becomes noticeable. Under normal front, side or top-lit situations, a scratch may not be noticed but may very quickly become apparent when back-lit. With glass I’m afraid it is time to change your port. With Perspex there is the opportunity to buff the port with ‘wet & dry’ to remove light scratches. This will take hours of patient work.

In short, take care of your ports. Glass is tougher than Perspex but is far more expensive. Your choice. If you can afford it, go for glass.

Condensation

Condensation and fogging in a housing can lead to missed shots and great frustration and, of course, it doesn’t become noticeable until you are underwater. The problem can occur when there is a slight amount of moisture in your housing and then that housing is put in the heat of direct sunlight. The moist air in the housing, upon being put into relatively cold water, will immediately condense on the thinnest and coldest part of that housing, which is going to be at the centre of the dome port.  It rarely happens with a flat port but it is not impossible. So, you jump in the water hoping for a great video session and all you get is foggy day shots. You can see the condensation right away, but just occasionally, if you are not paying attention and the amount of moisture is very slight, the effect will be to soften the focus of your image. You may think all this is obvious but be vigilant.

The solution is to make sure your camera and housing interior are thoroughly dry and you do not leave your rig out in the hot and direct sun at any time, especially while you are kitting up. Keep the housing shaded until you get in the water.

Next time we look at Colour Bars and Monitors.

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

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Save £500 on Maldives liveaboard – but hurry, there’s only 2 spots left!

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Join The Scuba Place on board the award-winning (Best Liveaboard, Maldives Tourism Awards for 2 consecutive years) Sachika for a week in the sun!

Taking in the very best dive sites of the ‘Best of Central Atolls’ itinerary, including manta cleaning stations, Whaleshark Alley, the Fish Factory and the legendary night dive with hundreds of nurse sharks, this is one trip not to be missed.

To make it even better, they have taken a big chunk of cash off the price to fill the last TWO SPACES (twin or double cabin) on each of the following sailings:

  • Outbound 5 November, return 13 November
  • Outbound 12 November, return 20 November

The Scuba Place team can arrange flights from any major UK airport, and the whole package will be ATOL Protected. Price includes flights, taxes, full board in a twin/double cabin based on 2 sharing, 17 dives with Nitrox included, all soft drinks and meals and snacks. Bar bill is extra and extra dives are available too!

The prices are based on flying with Emirates and include 30kgs of baggage per person.

Don’t miss out – get in touch today! Call 020 3515 9955 to find out more!

Brochure link: https://bit.ly/TSP_Maldives_Nov2021

www.thescubaplace.co.uk


Boat images by Top Class Cruising

Underwater images by Nigel Wade for The Scuba Place

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The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 1 of 2

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In the first of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021…

Travelling during the Covid pandemic has been challenging for some, impossible for most, and missed by all. We have been scanning the rules and regulations daily, and as soon as the UK Government allowed us, we were off!

What was supposed to be a trip to Mexico for a gang of 12 of us, just like most trips over the last 18 months, we were forced to change as the travel rules changed – we have been trying to get to Bonaire for ages, and this became the perfect opportunity – at last!

With our bags packed, negative test results and completed Bonaire health forms in hand – we made an early start for Heathrow, prepared for an 0630 departure. A quick flight and we landed in Amsterdam. As a Dutch Caribbean territory, all flights from the UK to Bonaire on KLM go via Amsterdam. In the airport, we met up with the rest of the gang who had travelled from Birmingham. After a quick layover we took off for Bonaire, where we arrived about 9 hours later. Our health documents were checked at the airport, and we grabbed our bags. It seems odd to have to fly East to then go West, but as we stepped out of the minibus at Buddy Dive Resort, only 10 minutes after leaving the airport, the sunshine and blue sky told us it was worth it!

Our accommodation for the group was made up of two 3-bedroom apartments, a stone’s throw from the water, dive shop, dock and Blennies, the main restaurant and bar. Buddy Dive also has 1- and 2-bedroom apartments along with studios, all comfortably furnished with either a garden or ocean view.

Each 3-bedroom apartment is spread over two floors – but a floor up from ground level. The ‘ground’ floor of each apartment offers a double bedroom (beds can be configured as twins or double in all rooms), a bathroom, lounge with balcony, and a very well-equipped kitchenette. Microwave, toaster, hob, fridge/freezer with ice-maker and enough pots, pans and utensils to satisfy the avid cook! On the upper floor, there are two further double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, both with balconies of their own. Each bedroom is air-conditioned, and the lounge and kitchen have celling fans. All in all, quite perfect for a home away from home for a fortnight!

The rules of group travel say we must unpack (empty bags onto floor or bed), sort kit out (look at dive bag and save it for later), put cameras together (er….NO!) and hit the bar – so being rule-abiding people that we are, this is what we did. Picking up the rental van for our stay would have to wait!

The next morning after breakfast, served in the Ingridients restaurant and right on the water, we attended the Buddy Dive orientation. The staff gave us a quick tour of the dock and resort including the famous drive thru tank shed offering both air and nitrox tanks ready and waiting to be loaded into your vehicle. Check in at the dive centre was easy… we all completed our diver forms online before arrival so with a quick hello we were handed locker keys for our kit storage. Time to head back to the room and get ready for our first dive!! That is why we’re here after all!

As with all trips, the first dive was a check dive, so we climbed down the steps into the water off the dock to go an explore Buddy Dive Reef. Finning over the sandy bottom, past the coral restoration project ‘trees’ and following well laid lines with directional markers we hit the reef after just a minute or two where you can drop to 35+ metres over simply stunning corals. This reef, just like the rest of the sites we dived, is super-healthy and teeming with juvenile fish wherever you look. Moray eels, turtles, octopi and HUGE tarpon on our first dive! What a great start!

The following day we decided it was time to explore the island. We picked up our 6-person minibus from Reception, pulled up to the drive thru tank station and grabbed 12 well filled Nitrox 12l aluminium (A-Clamp – not DIN) cylinders. With our guidebook in hand, off we went driving on the right of course, in search of marine life.

There are over 50 dive sites scattered around the coast of the main island, and even more on the island of Klein Bonaire accessible by boat. We chose a comfortable start by picking dive sites to the South where the entry seems to be a little easier on old knees and hips. We packed up sandwiches we made after a quick shop at the supermarket the day before, along with waters and a few essentials – towels, sunnies and bug spray.

I won’t bore you with every dive site name and description – the guidebook is the tool for that – but it is more than safe to say that we dived, dived and dived again! Every dive gave us far more than we expected, and the marine park surrounding the whole island delivered the goods without fail. Super healthy corals, plentiful marine life, warm and very clear water at 30 degrees made life easy. Parking the van up at the marked dive sites wasn’t difficult, and a few strides across the sand was far simpler than we had expected.

I will say that some sites are a little more challenging to get into the water from – anything more than three or four steps doesn’t float my boat! We adapted our entries for the group – some kitting up in the water, some not, but the rule of thumb quickly became step in up to thigh-depth, inflate bcd, fall flat on your back and paddle out before putting your fins on. Simple! Getting out of the water was pretty much the reverse of the above – stand up when you can, remove fins, and then navigate the rocks and sand channels before you walk up the beach. Nothing that an over-weight, under-tall chap in his mid-50’s with dodgy knees and even dodgier hips couldn’t cope with! (That is me by the way…..no offense to anyone else intended and no animals were harmed in the writing of this either).

We saw stuff – lots of it! Huge tarpon, French and Grey Angelfish, forests of Christmas Tree worms, anemones with Peterson, sexy and cleaner shrimp, clinging crabs, nudibranchs – especially lettuce-leaf slugs, coral-banded shrimp, lobster and so much more. Turtles everywhere, trumpet-fish in unbelievable numbers, and that was generally the story – all in very good visibility too! The corals and huge sponges were stunning with fascinating reef-structures offering all sorts of hidey-holes for critters!

There were some really special sited that we loved, and Salt Pier was one. The Cargill solar salt facility is easily found with its distinctive line of white salt pyramids.Each pyramid, roughly 50-feet high, can contain up to 10,000 metric tons of 99.6 percent pure salt. Even more noteworthy, in addition to the acres of salt ponds, the facility is also home to largest pink flamingo sanctuary in North America. Our very own Chloe has written an in-depth blog about Bonaire and its pure salt so be sure and check it out!

Back to the diving! We were given a hint to drive just past the pier to park where we would find an easy sand entry to the site. We kitted up and finned out through the shallows where we encountered three juvenile hawksbill turtles along with a few smooth pufferfish fighting to feed on patch of sponges, and then made our way under the immense structure of the pier. There are several platforms supporting the conveyor belts that move salt to the container ships and there wasn’t much diver-traffic to contend with. We were amazed by all things weird and wonderful – big scorpion fish hiding under the metal work, angelfish battling for food, schooling fish up above you, and frogfish! Barracuda, Caribbean reef squid, spotted drums, octopus, oh! and more frogfish! Even a flying gurnard in the shallows! What a dive! And as it is shallow, it can be a very long dive too, especially with the 200-210 bar fills the drive-thru often gave us.

Check back for Part Two of this Blog tomorrow!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

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Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 04 – 11 November 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

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  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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