logo

Buy the ticket, take the ride...

- Hunter S. Thompson

image

How-To

Jun 18, 2019

Five Ways to Improve Your Underwater Photography

Fly, float and roll with these tips to capture your sublime subjects underwater.

WRITTEN BY

Prathibha Easwaran

Most of us spend too much time in our day worrying about things in our life that are happening on land. Then there are those of us whose imagination trails off to what lies beneath the vast blue extents we humans refer to as ‘water bodies’. When nearly seventy percent of the earth is covered with water, it’s hard to ignore the world beneath that could be explored. When peering out over a large body of water, whether it be the ocean, a sea, a lake or a river, one can not really comprehend what might lie beneath the waves. All faiths that have ever come upon the earth have considered water as holy and account for its healing characteristics. Many have taken inspiration from its fluidity. For those of us passionate about underwater photography, we venture below to capture a glimpse of a moment within this alien world. With experience, we learn the techniques to return to land with the snapshot of a lifetime.

“Remaining steady might seem a laughable.”

The way life thrives underwater, with the slow dances of kelp, the tickling in your ears by fish crunching on coral, the distant call of a whale, all in the sublime silence borne by the pressure of the water, is quite the contrast to the world we live on land. The land is engulfed with loud motors, machines and human chatter. On the contrary, the water is home to peaceful silence which brings us divers a calming sensation of awe and wonder.

Of course, it is sad to note that most of our trash is directed to large water bodies, polluting what’s left of Earth’s beauty. Turtles with straws stuck in their nostrils and whales swallowing hundreds of plastic cups, nets, bottles and much more are not new to us, yet we let this atrocity continue as we can’t hear the cries of the beings underwater.

“You never know when a stone you’ve been staring at was actually a local resident in camouflage!”

With advanced technology so readily available, almost every vacationer brings along their trusty action cam. Although available in many models, the most popular by far is the GoPro. After all, there’s no better way to relive a memory than via a video or picture. Whether you are working with a GoPro or another brand, the following tips can help you make the most out of your undersea memories.

1. Be Steady

With a current against your elbow, and breathing with your mouth closed, remaining “steady” might seem a laughable suggestion! However, it is possible, this skill just takes time and practice to hone. No matter how well an action cam is designed to stabilize, it always helps to consciously be graceful and steady with your movements.

When shooting video, make a game out of it, try to feel the flow and movement of the water. Feel your pulse synch with the current.

When shooting photography focus on slowly exhaling, whilst keeping an eye on the viewfinder and subject of your shot.

You might consider it to be a smart idea to invest in a camera mount for action cams. Something that you attach to your head or chest, but the latter don’t provide much control over what one captures. Instead, especially for beginners, consider the wrist mount. If you’re comfortable holding it with your fingers, then that’s an option too, but be sure to attach it to a water-float. We don’t want memories forever lost down in the depths of the ocean.

2. Roll… Continuously. 

Keep that camera on. This is a good tip for a beginner cinematographer. Try to perfect your movements, but keep capturing marine life as you do it. You never know when a stone you’ve been staring at was actually a local resident in camouflage! Of course, when using this strategy, be prepared with an extra battery.

If you’re on a holiday and need extra batteries, worry not, almost every dive shop and local diving community has camera outlets. Even our phones can double as underwater cameras if dressed in the appropriate housing. Just make sure that you test your gear in a controlled environment before taking it into large areas of water.

3. Fly and Float

If you’ve ever gone SCUBA diving before, I’m sure you understand the weightlessness one feels whilst underwater. Use this to your advantage and drift around. Whilst diving, alternate distances between yourself and your subject, switch up the perspectives. Shoot through plants, corals and rock structures, just make sure you don’t drift too far away from your dive buddy.

If in a pool, practice by trying to shoot midway through the surface of the water with the help of a dome. Alternatively, shoot from the floor, use water toys, or even your buddy’s legs. The number of perspectives you can capture is endless! Move around and try to frame around your subject in a way that seems aesthetically appealing to you.

4. Lighting

Lighting is hard enough to perfect on land, let alone underwater, but practice can improve your results over time. Good visibility and the sun are your best friends while shooting underwater. According to the Tyndall effect, with its gorgeous shimmers, water bends light to create different shapes and patterns, teasing the lens. If you run out of daylight, or go on a night dive, the next option is to carry a waterproof light during your shoot.

5. What to shoot?

The ocean is so vast, that it’s not unusual to be caught by the beauty of a shot that has nothing but just blue within it. Often such a shot is quite breathtaking, with the sunlight streaking into the abyss, the underbelly of the water shimmering down onto the sea bed. The lack of a subject is substituted by the subject instead being the beauty within the frame. Usually, whilst in the ocean, the major subjects are divers, boats and aquatic flora-fauna. Observe the behavior of beings and try to capture their presence by framing their movements.

In a pool, the best way to avoid empty shots is to be prepared with props, a friend or both. Try creating a story with your shots. Focus on the different elements and use any light to your advantage.

Everything underwater is slow, but if you stay in control of your own movements, this slow motion can be translated into graceful content.

Ready to take the extra step? Edit your pictures and videos.

First of all, understand that upon descending into the water, a loss of colour is inevitable. Reds turn to browns for example. Fortunately, there are solutions, such as shooting with a red filter. If not, one may also choose to add the same effect in post-production when you’re back in front of your computer.

Sound mixing can really enhance the cinematics of your footage. The sounds captured from beneath the ocean by divers is usually the sound of their breathing, motors of boats, a distant call of a sea creature and maybe the crunching of corals by fish. Consider adding these sounds in small doses, with careful volumes to the edit for full effect.

Every score has the goal of enhancing the experience of your audience. Dulled out tones, muffled sounds and slow music usually achieves the purpose. You might also add informative voice overs if you’d like to share the thoughts you had during a dive.

There are many methods to optimize your underwater memories, and those above are just a few for beginners to get their feet wet. Something new is learnt on every dive, so get out there, practice and experience those magical undersea moments.

 

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

Continue Reading

image

How-To

Jun 24, 2019

Dealing With Dietary Restrictions In The Backcountry.

Gluten intolerance, vegan, Halal, nut allergy, dairy-free, Kosher… whatever your dietary restrictions may be, you don’t have to let it hinder your ability to get out and enjoy the backcountry!

image

WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

We spoke with expedition whitewater kayaker, Ben Stookesbury, about his experience of maintaining a vegan diet on long kayaking expeditions. As a guy that needs to hike to remote rivers, nutrition, to maintain endurance is key. As Ben’s puts it “I began going after rivers that had not yet been explored, and quickly realized the endurance component of carrying a heavy kayak – sometimes days into a wild river or around unrunnable stretches of river – was the key to the mission”.

Read Next: Adventuring On A Plant-Based Diet With Ben Stookesbury

We took Ben’s advice and put together some tips for dealing with your dietary restrictions in the backcountry.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Preparation is Key

It’s easy to head to REI and buy the pre-made freeze-dried backpacker meals. They are easy to prepare, lightweight, and a quick cleanup. The cons? They are expensive, kinda gross, and most likely don’t comply with your food intolerances or restrictions! So, instead of doing that, just prepare your own meals!

Plan your meals ahead of time, so you know exactly what ingredients to shop for before you go on your trip. Crack a bunch of eggs into a nalgene for scrambled egg dinners. Portion out oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips into a ziplock for breakfasts. Make your own granola bars, jerkey, and bread for sandwiches. Know exactly what food you will eat for each meal while you are in the backcountry, and prep it accordingly.

For Stookesbury, planning and preparing his meals before a long trip “takes some focus and forethought… but it feels quite empowering to be so much more cognizant of what I am putting in my body, and obviously there is simply no longer the need to eat much of anything that has all those nasty preservatives.”

Go With Good People

Unfortunately, some people are not as accommodating of food restrictions of others. I can’t say why, but some people think of food restrictions as “picky eating” and “high maintenance”, rather than a serious medical need or a spiritual belief. The fact that you may get seriously sick from eating gluten, or go into anaphylactic shock from your food being near peanut butter might not quite register on their radar. It doesn’t mean they are a bad people, but it might mean you avoid going on long backcountry trips with them in the future.

Alternatively, there are many people out there who are WONDERFUL to plan trips with. They will go out of their way to make sure you have the food you need, and will often sacrifice their own meal plan in order to include you in the group cooking. These people are the best, and you should keep them in your contacts for future backcountry trips. Sharing food and coordinating meals with the group will save both time and weight while carrying food into the backcountry, so going with good people who don’t mind accommodating your dietary needs is key!

Photo: Brooke Hess

Make Time For Three Full Meals A Day

No NOLS-style meal plans here. Stookesbury says one of the most important parts of expeditioning is “planning the time to eat three tasty meals a day.”

Give yourself enough time in the morning to cook up a hot breakfast. Plan a one hour stop mid-day to prepare a sandwich or wrap for lunch. Give yourself enough time in the evening at camp to cook a meal of veggies, protein, and carbs. Without the ease of the freeze-dried backpacker meals, you will have to put more time into your meal prep. But don’t worry, you’ll be happy you did when you are eating a freshly-prepared meal of roasted veggies and quinoa!

SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS!

Find a bar that works for you. And if you can’t – make your own!

I have spent the past year searching for the best gluten free and dairy free bars. I want the maximum amount of calories and protein, in the smallest possible package. As soon as I found one I liked, I ordered it in bulk on Amazon. I now have a stash of 50+ energy bars in my truck ready to be packed into a drybag, backpack, or ski jacket as soon as the need arises.

If you can’t find one that works with your diet, or can’t find one that you like – make your own! Any combination of dried fruits, nuts, oats, honey, and dark chocolate can make a damn good energy bar. You can find recipes online for homemade bars, then substitute various ingredients to make it work with your diet.

Stookesbury prefers the trail mix method to energy bars. “Nuts, dried fruit, and vegan chocolate is my personal substitute for an energy bar, and I call it a homemade energy bag! Keeping that ‘Power Bag’ of nuts, dried fruit, and some quality chocolate is a good way to keep your energy up and make snacking easy.”

Other popular snacking favorites include jerky, chocolate-covered almonds, cheese sticks (if you can eat dairy), and nut butters.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Be Prepared To Carry More Weight If Needed

I recently met a woman who has developed a severe allergy to all red meat, due to a bite from a Lone Star Tick. If she eats beef, pork, lamb, or any other red meat, she goes into anaphylactic shock. Even if her food is cooked in the same cast iron pan that has recently been in contact with red meat, she could go into anaphylactic shock. For these reasons, whenever she embarks on a backcountry expedition, she brings all her own cookware (and an EpiPen, just in case). She has learned to be adamant about her dietary needs on trips, and often prepares her food separate from the group. She is well aware that her food restrictions might force her to carry more weight than other members in her group, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her pursuit of overnight expeditions!

Photo: Brooke Hess

Examples of Day-Long Meal Plans for Various Diets:

Stookesbury’s Favorite Backcountry Vegan Meal Plan

Breakfast -150g oats, chia, flax, pumpkin seeds, hemphearts, raisins and walnuts (add a little salt).

Snack – Powerbag (nuts, dried fruit, vegan chocolate)

Lunch – Hummus, veg (arugula, beet, carrot, avo) sandwich

Dinner – 150g Rice, lentils, broccoli, onion, garlic, with or without nuts, salt, and olive oil.

 

TOJ’s Favorite Backcountry Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Meal Plan

Breakfast – Pre-cut kale scrambled with eggs, avocado, and vegan “cheese”

Snack – Bobo’s gluten free oat bars, apple, and dairy-free dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Lunch – Gluten free tortillas with peanut butter and jelly

Dinner – Roasted root veggies (sweet potato, beets, carrots, potato), kale, and quinoa, topped with avocado and vegan “cheese” if preferred.

Photo: Brooke Hess

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

The Outdoor Voyage booking platform and online marketplace only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

Recent Articles



India Must Stop Deforesting its Mountains if it Wants to Fight Floods.

During floods and landslides in August 2019, two villages were completely destroyed killing several people, while a year earlier Kerala saw its worst floods in a century.

How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

Rising global temperatures, the spread of crop disease and extreme weather events have made coffee harvests unreliable in places like El Salvador. On top of that, market prices are unpredictable.

The Great Barrier Reef outlook is ‘very poor’. We have one last chance to save it.

It’s official. The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has been downgraded from “poor” to “very poor” by the Australian government’s own experts.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other