Back to Basics

Yesterday, I started my new journey as an underwater photographer. Pirate John and I went back to the Mukilteo T-Dock for my debut. Unlike last weekend during my certification where the visibility were low and murky — which was made worse by so many other inexperienced divers; this time we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

After spending sometime adjusting my weights, we were able to descend. I was so focused on photography and Pirate John was focused on keeping me safe and getting me to perfect my buoyancy. Which I can understand is really important but… the photographer in me was definitely more predominate; especially when we got to the bottom. The visibility was so much better. It was probably 20 feet compared to last week’s 3-5 feet. I was like a little kid with her first camera. I wanted to take pictures of everything. Since I don’t have a underwater housing for my Nikon, I had to use Pirate John’s point and shoot.

It has been years since I last used a point and shoot camera. I discovered it was quite a challenge to go back to the basics and shoot on automatic. The camera came with many settings, including underwater — which I chose to use to see what it can do. Even though it was a point and shoot, it was challenging for me. I missed being in control of my camera and the creative settings involved when shooting manual with a DSLR. But I think the point and shoot was  the best way for me to learn from in the underwater environment. I only have three buttons to work with: On/Off, Wide Angle/Close Up, and Shutter. Which is all I can deal with when I have to focus on staying buoyant and not float away with the tide. On couple of occasions, Pirate John had to redirect me because I was going in the wrong direction and floating too much with the current. You can definitely become easily disoriented in the wide open water with no landmarks to guide you. Or the fact you can easily go from 30 feet to 70 plus feet without feeling the change of distance. That’s why I pay close attention to the air and depth gauge on my dive computer. Safety is the most important, photography second…

A few minutes into our dive; I came face to face  with a young wolf eel half hidden in a kelp bed. Wolf eels are extremely shy and elusive. So it was amazing that I found one so easily. Excitedly, I took out the camera and Pirate John thought I wanted to take his picture. He took out his regulator and started to pose. I shook my head no and kept pointing towards the kelp bed.
Pirate John

Since we only communicate through scuba sign language, by the time he understood what I said, the wolf eel started to swim away. Quickly, I just pointed the camera and shoot.

During our two separate dives, I was able to experiment more with the camera and swam around happy like a fish in water… point and shoot at the abundant of sea life around me.
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There were flounders everywhere… most tried to camouflage themselves though, I was able to capture a couple having fun. Can you see them?
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On our second dive, Pirate John took me to the popular dive spot, Geo Dome. It’s a man-made structure but the sea life didn’t seem to mind. The visibility wasn’t good because of the strong current and lack of sunlight but I could see the abundant sea critters hidden everywhere. As I tried to become neutrally buoyant so I can steady myself enough to shoot without stirring up more silt, the current was bouncing me in all directions.  Then I spotted a large rock fish and was able to get a few shots while battling the strong current at the same time.
Geo Dome, Mukilteo

Rocky
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On our way back, I didn’t see anything interesting. So I decided to do some selfie shots.

Pirate John & Emily

I took this shot just as the current pushed me down on my back…

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And as I looked up, I saw a school of fish. When I tried to shoot, the current pushed me sideways and I ended up with this image. I like the abstract look of the fish and air bubbles.

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Finally, after I tumbled around a few more times and couldn’t get the photos I wanted; I put away the camera and enjoyed the rest of the dive with my dive buddy, Pirate John… who made sure we do the safety stop before ascending to the surface. Over all, it was a good first underwater photography experience and though these snap shots aren’t award winning;  it’s a thrilling feeling to know I’m another fin kick closer to my new goal of being an underwater photographer. Happy Diving! 🙂

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8 Comments on “Back to Basics

    • Thank you for the nice compliment, Marcel. I’m glad you found my blog and introduced me to yours. Wow! What a delectable, mouth-watering food blog you have. Beautiful photography. 🙂

  1. Hi Em, wow what a great post! The pictures and your words really give me the feeling of knowing what it was like being there – and I can’t even swim let alone do subaqua. I’d never thought for example about the buoyancy aspect, whether you sink of float – how interesting! That’s a great shot of you and John. Well done on achieving all this! Adrian

    • Thank you, Adrian. I’m so glad my words were able to take you with me and give you a sense of what it’s like down there. For me, buoyancy is probably the most difficult aspect of scuba diving. By being properly buoyant, it controls how you move through the water and the amount of energy you exert. There were a couple of occasions where my buoyancy caused me to ascend too rapidly; which isn’t a very good thing to do especially when you are in depths that require safety stops before surfacing. Or if you descend too quickly, you might not be able equalized your ears from the pressure. But all is good… as long as you remain calm when issues come up.

      Interestingly, I’ve never heard of the word “subaqua”. It’s great to know that scuba has another name. Thanks for teaching me something new Adrian. 🙂

  2. You are really off to a wonderful start in this new world, Emily. I’m especially fond of your wolf eel and the flounders–at first glance it looked rather like a double exposure but, with a deeper look, what fun, indeed!

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Gary. I’m having a great time with my new world. Hopefully, I will be able to get better using the camera when I get better at staying neutrally buoyant. I have another dive this weekend. Maybe I’ll be lucky and run into a giant octopus. 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Roberta. I appreciate your encouragement. Yes, the important thing is to have fun doing it; which I am having a fantastic time discovering. 🙂

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