Capturing divers on videotape isn't always easy: some divers you would like to shoot and others you would like to shoot, literally! Thus, our next two columns will help you improve your underwater diver shots. Taping a GroupSightseeing divers usually move randomly - not unlike fish. They often swim too fast, forcing you to kick so hard that your tape is filled with shaky shots of fins and tank bottoms in a sandstorm. Yes, you want shots of exiting divers for editing later, but enough is enough.Divers are easier to tape if they are on a guided dive. Ask the guide for his route and to signal you before he starts to the next site. Get to the site first so you can tape their approach. Once you get behind the group, it is difficult to catch up and get ahead. Taping Scattered DiversSome divers need time to settle in to a dive while others streak away at Mach 2 for unannounced destinations. Some swim slowly while others seem to disappear. Stay with the slow movers, taping them feeding fish, examining corals, staring at eels or taking pictures. Taping a Photo DiverAn underwater photographer can be a frustrating video subject. You roll tape hoping to catch the strobe flash. You wait with the tape running, but nothing happens. The photographer is waiting for that perfect Kodak moment, which is always after you've paused tape.Ask the photographer ahead of time for to pose for you. If she is working with models, you may be able to shoot them at work. Just be careful not to get involved unless you are waved in by the shooter.Avoid the Mechanical HeadIf your subject has a large, housed camera and her head is hidden behind it, she will appear to have a mechanical head. Ask her to please hold her head above the housing and flash her strobes at least once. Although this may not be correct photo technique, it looks much nicer on video. Buddy With the CameraWhen camera-shy divers discover they are on camera, they often panic. Their eyes open wide and lock on the lens port, then they quickly leave, giving you a shot of their tank. Others become clowns or make obscene gestures. To prepare divers for the camera, I tell them: Pretend that you have a tiny dive buddy in my camera. You can look at them through the little window at the front. You can gesture and show him things. When you point to something, be sure you are close to your friend. Individual DistancesIndividual distance is the minimum distance between others and ourselves, and on video it can never be close enough. The further you are from your subject, the less color and sharpness your scene will have. Signal divers to get closer, and closer still, then make sure that their bodies are cheated open. This means that at least part of their face and chest is angled toward the camera, which is far more interesting than their shoulders and backs. Send comments via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Tips: How to Videotape Divers
by Jim Church
Gone in 60 seconds! Check it out as some of our favorite sea creatures use their super-stealth hunting tactics to get their next meal.
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