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November 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 40, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Diver with a Camera Gives His Opinion

from the November, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Ben,

I read your review of the Rocio del Mar in last month's issue, and I had to smile. The writer's description of Mr. Hyde, the overzealous underwater photographer, is unfortunately quite common. I agree that liveaboards should separate photographers from non-photographers when it is safe and feasible. This would perhaps improve all divers' experiences.

I am an avid underwater photographer, and I clearly agree that there are "sharing" issues under the sea. It is very hard not to rush to get photos when something spectacular arises, yet the best pictures will often come later, when most divers move on to the next turtle, ray or sponge. Many times, we all forget to slow down underwater.

While many divers feel compelled to follow the guide to the point that they only see bubbles and fins, I usually follow behind and take my time. There are few times when anyone even cares what I am framing. Large animals can be viewed from many different angles, and they often want to leave the crowd anyway. Small critters are different. I have seen divers using magnifying lenses to improve their view. This also has the effect of "staking one's ground," and can deter an unaware photographer from crowding the subject.

Over the years, I have seen too many arguments over sharing, and I now dive solo or nearly solo when I can get away with it. Most good pictures come near the surface and take time to compose. The surface is close and the lighting is better. I now actually look at subjects more when I am alone. A great picture takes time and contemplation, not to mention less backscatter.

I realize that solo diving is often shunned or criticized, but eventually we need to grow up and realize we are responsible for ourselves underwater. It helps to let the crowd move on. I prefer to dive alone, just as I prefer to walk in the woods alone.

- - Mark Etter, Lititz, PA

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