Category — Other

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 II (Hungary)

And so the journey continues! The Viking team gathered, sights are set due south for central Europe, Budapest Hungary to be exact. After returning from the Mumin Valley in Finland, this adventure also originates from the center of universe, Malmö Sweden.

First leg of the trip involved a ferry crossing, by far not as adventurous as the ferry to Finland and for sure not equally as long at only 6 hours. Enough time for a dinner and copious amounts of coffee while chitchatting with high hopes of the upcoming diving in Molnar Janos cave.

The Ferry arrived in Sassnitz Germany at around 22:00 the same evening. Fueled up on coffee we decide to take the manly and only approach to the journey, stretch driving more or less straight south. Of course the driving involves a few short stops here and there. I mean what would driving around in Europe be without the occasional curry wurst and coffee stop…!? Traveling through Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and finally crossing over to Hungary we arrived in Budapest around noon the following day. The sun was shining, airtemp sat between 25-30 degrees,  and it was awesome to be back in the city! It was an easy and smooth drive to the hotel, which by the way was literally a stone throw away from the cave. With diving scheduled to start the following day we got installed at the hotel and took a stroll down the street to look at the cave entrance.

Now, I’ve been in Budapest several times, and I’ve been walking on this street numerous times before, always looking thru the Plexiglas at the small lake outside of the cave with a humongous craving for diving this cave, finally the time had come! Rounding off the first evening with elephant ear sized schnitzels we were set for some well deserved sleep.

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Waking up the following morning, the expectations alone could probably move mountains, at last, time for some city cave diving! So if it’s not been clear enough or if you don’t know about the this location, this cave sits in the middle of Budapest city, right next to the Duna river, literally you are swimming around underneath the city center.

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There is a great parking just inside the gate next to the small lake. In terms of logistics the guys running this place has hit the home run. Big parking, wheelbarrows to haul equipment inside the cave, with a nice paved stretch leading up to the water part of the cave. Once inside there are super solid equipment storage with everything you could possibly wish for. A long stretch of metal benches for holding all the doubles and CCR’s in perfect height for getting dressed. A mega large map of the entire cave system giving you a perfect opportunity to plan each dive in detail, at the moment there is 7km of explored cave passage, and the most important thing, the possibility to make coffee!

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A few steps of stairs led down to the water surface which ended in a solid metal platform. In the middle of the small “lake” inside the mountain there is a buoy which went strait down to the permanent line and eventually the cave entrance.

Also situated in the lake, was nice rectangular permanent deco station placed at 6M. Perfect place to stage the O2. You can probably imagine the fuzzy feeling after coming from the chilly Mumin Valley, to jump into water at a temperature of 28 degrees (First 10M’s are at 28 and then it “drops” to 21 degrees below 10M. So, once again spoiled by water temp).

Time to get cracking then.

After a solid run-through and detailed briefing, it was time for the first dive. Slowly descending down the warm layer of water, starting to follow the permanent guideline I was suddenly once again struck by the thought of swimming underneath the busy city life going on just above our heads. Molnar Janos is a Limestone cave with fairly large passages in comparison to a lot of other places I’ve visited and dived.

Using doubles for backgas and multiple stages was not in any means a problem to navigate through the cave. I would also call this a very scooter friendly cave. We were surrounded by beautiful crystal and limestone formations, some rooms we entered were humongous, some passages slightly smaller, but never “tight”. If you went off the “beaten track” for sure you can find some tightish spots as well, but in general, it’s big.

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In terms of logistics and diving everything had been made to really accommodate cave divers! And the diving itself is amazing. The beauty of diving in a capital city in central Europe is of course you’ll have the entire city at your disposal when you are not diving. One thing you can find a lot of here is truly amazing food! Of course every restaurant each evening was carefully selected and thought thru, like I said, I’ve spent some time in this city before, know my way around.

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After 3 great days of diving the time had come to load our cars and change location again, sights set for Slovakia. I really have to complement the guys at Molnar Janos for excellent service, superb logistics and a super solid and smooth setup! Your plans for the future will only make things even better so keep up the awesome work!

According to the super all mighty Google maps (ppfffffff), the journey between Budapest and our Slovakian destination was only supposed to be a 3ish hour drive. So why not take the opportunity to stuff our belly’s full of proper Hungarian langos and make some traditional selfies like every other tourist does?? … Hey, I mean we have time, it’s only early afternoon, and it’s only a 3 hour drive right?

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Just going to throw this out there so you have something to think about before reading Part III of this trilogy. Do you think Google maps has any clue to time management in terms of distance??? Well, I’m gonna sit on that answer for a while, give you some time to reflect, haha.

 

Divers:

Lelle, Henric K, Aron, Henrik F & Tomas

 

To be continued…     

October 1, 2016   No Comments