Behind The Lights

As people live and work in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, it may be unknown to some that we are standing on top of thousands of years history. Atop of what was once a vast coral platform, now a flooded underwater maze of rivers and passageways, so beautiful people come from all over the world to see, dive and document these spectacular Cenotes.

Without documentation of these cenotes, I don’t believe that many people including my family could fully understand what it is that I am living and diving amongst.

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As an avid photographer myself I took to the caverns and caves with my camera. This environment proved much more difficult to capture the details and colours that I would be more likely to capture in the ocean on a casual dive.

Photography and videography in cave diving has more considerations than you would imagine. Now in a dark environment; in fact pitch black until illuminated by our video lights and strobes, I decided to leave the shutter button under the finger of my friends John Cafaro and Katy Fraser who are professionals.

In taking a pleasurable back seat to the photographer I soon found myself as model or lighting assistant.

As model this requires awareness of the line, gas, situational, environmental and light awareness in relation to the photographer and the angle at which he is shooting me from.

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As lighting assistant this requires the same awareness but with a subject in the frame. It is my job to avoid being in shot, whilst illuminating either the diver and/or decorations in the foreground or background.

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In cave diving photography – lighting, anticipation of the moving diver and co-ordination of the team make for a promising result.It is important to understand the vision of the photographer, hence the need for detailed briefings and debriefings for each dive.

Some considerations for shooting; Formations – Ceiling, floor or both. Spacious or narrow. Deep or shallow. Dark or white walls and what follows; how much light do we need and what is the burn time on those lights? As lighting on a cave dive is the limit to what you will see.

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We now need to remember that this is technical diving, where in the cave do we want to shoot? what is our planned route and depth of penetration? how many team members are there? how much gas do we have and can we use?

Being a helping hand to the photographer/videographer allows for gas conservation of the photographer (As they can focus on getting the shot and not swimming around placing and picking up lights), more potential shots and more depth of field.

As interest in technical and cave diving grows, so does the peoples want for more travel and to discover something new. For our generation, snippets of our adventures are displayed through social media platforms and digital memories.

Our team have been a part of many productions; Phillip Gray ‘Extreme Artist’, Global Dive Guide, dive brand advertising among others.

At ProTec Diving Centre we offer this service of a Professional photographer or videographer to capture you in your cave diving glory at the highest professional standard.

Cave Guide and Technical Instructor at ProTec Tulum, Tamara May.

 

October 27, 2016   No Comments

Lelle’s Eurotrip – 2016 Part III (Slovakia)

Let’s travel back a few weeks in time and reexamine my ending statement/question from the last article shall we…

Do you think Google maps has any clue to time management in terms of distance???”

Well, by now you probably already guessed it. The answer to that question would be a BIG NO!!

With that said and done, our bellies were full, pictures of Budapest taken, we set off for Slovakia. This was supposed to be a 3 hour drive, it ended up being a 6.5 hour drive, imagine that…!? At least half of it was still in daylight so we could at least enjoy the scenery, but the other half was just dark and on top of that it started raining heavily which did not by any means increase our speed!

So, picture this, 5 by now tremendously hungry Swede’s are driving along in more or less no-man’s-land after just having crossed the border into Slovakia. There is absolutely nothing around. All of a sudden we drive through a village, well a couple of houses at least. I almost did not even notice it was so small. But the hungry eyes of Aron did pick up a scent, a PIZZA sign. Let there be light and lord be hold, what in the earth is a pizza place doing out here in the middle of nowhere??? No time for asking irrelevant questions at this point. Imagine the surprise of the owners when 5 hungry Swede’s rock up to the counter asking for pizza’s. Probably the best tasting pizza in decades! Belly’s full again, off we go, arriving at our destination a few hours later. A very, very nice little hostel in another tiny little village. Licking our wounds from the long drive, but still in super high spirits, it’s bedtime.

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Next day we set our sights for the Opal mine. Now that we could actually see the scenery around where we were driving it was beautiful. Mountains and forest as far as the eye could see.

Arriving at the mine we met Peter who drove down from Bratislava. He was the guy to show us around for the next couple of days. After a long and very thorough intro/divesite briefing/ getting to know one another chat, it was time to head down into the mine for the first time. Up until this point on the trip we had been fairly spoiled I would say. We have had close access, easy entry/exit, logistical setup for equipment. Well, now the coin had flipped. Back to old school hauling equipment like never before. The intention is to keep the mine as intact as possible, which means there is more or less no improvements made since they shut down the mine about 200 years ago. So you can probably imagine this is no fancy cake walk to reach the water level, a fairly good distance away from the actual ground entrance. Somehow miners back in the day tended to excavate just enough rock to be able to pass thru. This does not mean a person of normal height can stand upright at all times.

It took us a while to get situated and setup, then it was time for the first dive. After another thorough dive briefing and making a good plan, we hit the water. Coming from the 28 degrees Molnar Janos water, 3 degrees was a bit of a wake up. For sure you can all imagine we switched to the THICKEST undergarment’s and dry gloves.

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Only a few minutes into the dive I suddenly realise it was all so worth it. All the effort of actually getting here paid off more than I could have imagined! I’ve been diving for a long time and in various places around the world, but never have I seen such colours as in this Opal mine! Truly spectacular and one of a kind! I didn’t feel the cold, I didn’t feel my body aching from hauling a gazillion kg of dive equipment down the mine, I could not have cared less about Google Map’s tricking us in time vs distance. I am just completely amazed at where I am, looking at these colours, thinking about when the miners last walked around here looking for Opal.

I can safely say that everyone was in high spirits, and enthusiastic like never before, just wanting more off this!

Of course to complete the circle and putting that last dot over the I, there can’t be awesome diving without a good barbecue. And what better place is there to be than Slovakia in this case. The sausage’s they make in Slovakia are not even possible to describe in words, they need to be tasted. Now, how do you think a few divers start a fire when they are hungry and don’t really want to wait around too long? Easy, O2 is the key! Obviously we did bring O2 for deco. O2 + lighter = big fire in no time! And we have an entire forest surrounding us for firewood.

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Over the next days to come we made some amazing dives, one more astounding than the other. So many levels and areas to explore! What still amazes me is the colours seen, of course powerful video lights was definitely a big help to get those colours!

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And that pretty much concludes the Eurotrip -16. After having made the last dive we set our sights for the ferry in Rostock, Germany, taking us back to Sweden. From Slovakia crossing into Poland, and then Germany. About 1200km to drive, a few stops here and there for gas, dinner and most importantly coffee, but other than that we managed to do it over night. Arriving in Rostock at 4am with about 2 hours to spare until the ferry leaves. I call that time management deluxe and uniquely planned!

Now summer has come to an end and new adventures await back “home” in Mexico. Tacos and caves, what could possibly go wrong…!

 

Divers:

Lelle

Henric K

Aron

Henrik F

Tomas

October 24, 2016   No Comments