Ocean Leisure Cameras

  • How Do You Store Your Pictures?

    Photographed twenty years ago on Fujichrome film with a Nikonos V camera. Photographed twenty years ago on Fujichrome film with a Nikonos V  camera, digitally scanned and properly stored.

    We spend a fortune travelling across the world to distant diving destinations, recording marvellous images of the marine life we come across. Some of the pictures are irreplaceable.

    In the days of film, when pictures were stored as hard copy, it was easily understood that resulting colour transparencies needed to be stored in a cool dark place with low humidity so that they neither faded nor suffered the onslaught of damp conditions.

    Today, we take thousands more pictures than ever because there is no longer a cost consideration associated with the number of exposures made. Not only that, but the ease with which anyone can achieve satisfying results means that anyone can and will take pictures. Ordinary life has almost become one big photographic shoot-out!

    However, this might become the age of lost pictures. While Lartigue’s collection of photographs were later stumbled across in an attic, how many digital photographs will be conserved in the same way? Digital images are merely a collection of magnetic signals until they are realised on a computer.

    Firstly, you need to store your images in a safe way. Leaving them on the hard drive of your computer is asking for trouble. Computers don’t last forever. Install a new operating system and you risk losing data. You might opt for an off-board hard drive or ‘the cloud’. The cloud is simply someone else’s big computer elsewhere.

    Either way, that’s not enough. You need to back up on to a separate hard drive and if you want to be really safe, you should also back up on to a third hard drive at a different location. Then you must stay alert for new technology replacing what you’re using.

    When I first went over to digital photography, I was concerned to archive my pictures in a secure way. Younger techno-bores in those days told me to save them to CD or DVD. They told me they were guaranteed to last ten years. Ten years? That’s not archival permanence!

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    If you want to preserve the memories of some of your diving exploits so that you can browse them and reminisce years later, I suggest you take your best shots from each dive trip and construct an analogue book using one of the proprietary programs and services available (iPhoto allows you to do this, for example). You can later take it down  from a book shelf at a moment’s notice.

    These books are beautifully printed and bound and can be organised on your computer in an evening.

    As for you videos, first you must edit them down to a digestible length, using only the best moments of the action you have recorded. If you are using a GoPro camera, there’s a free app (GoPro Studio) from GoPro.com that is easily downloaded and simple to use to do that.

    Then you will have the problem of storage. Luckily, hard drives with several terabytes of space (one terabyte is more than a thousand gigabytes) don’t cost that much nowadays although be aware that the connections to your current computer might change and someone might come up with better technology to replace it. It’s the price we pay for the rapid evolution of this technology.

  • Dome Ports for Underwater Cameras

    Serious underwater photographers shoot their wide-angle pictures from behind dome ports. What’s that all about?nauticam4.33domeport

    A dome port has no effect when viewing through it with the same medium (air) on both sides but once you put the outer surface in contact with water the refraction between that and the air in front of the camera lens comes into play. What happens is that a virtual image is formed ahead of the dome port and the camera lens is allowed to focus on that instead of the real subject some distance ahead. The effect is to produce an image that is more saturated in colour. The problem comes when you realise that this virtual image is curved and the distance in front of the lens is quite close.

    Some photographers get disappointed when they find that their expensive wide-angle lenses are no longer giving images that are sharp from side to side and resort to fitting them with high-strength dioptre close-up lenses in order to get them to focus close enough to get this virtual image sharp.

    That’s because most expensive wide-angle lenses are rectilinear designs that have a very flat field-of-view, something that is admirable when using them solely in the medium of air. At the same time, few focus close enough.

    That’s why you’ll see top underwater photographers using full-frame fish-eye lenses behind dome ports. Often these give very disappointing results in air but in conjunction with a dome port their aberrations actually become an advantage. A curved field-of-focus is a positive bonus where trying to make a sharp record of a curved virtual image.

    Dome ports come in different diameters with a different radius to their curve. The bigger the dome port the further in front of it the virtual image is formed and the easier it is to get the camera lens positioned at the right point behind it. That said, big dome ports can be unwieldy to use, hence the popularity of mini-domes. The smaller domes produce their virtual image much closer to the front of the port and it’s really important that the front node of the lens is positioned in the correct place relative to it.

    The front node is not something you can see. It’s an optical term. Camera housing manufacturers have done empirical tests with most popular lenses to confirm what spacer ring might be needed to allow the dome to be positioned in the right place relative to the camera. They provide lens/port charts for this purpose and your underwater photography equipment dealer will have that information if you cannot find it on-line.9inchzendome

    Dome ports can be made of acrylic material, polycarbonate or glass. Glass is the most expensive and the most hard wearing but if you are unlucky enough to scratch or chip it, there is nothing you can do apart from clone out the unwanted mark in your pictures, later with software on your computer.

    Polycarbonate is inexpensive and lightweight but the same applies as glass should you damage it. Acrylic ports have an advantage in that the material has the same refractive index as water so minor scratches become invisible in your shots underwater unless you happen to take a picture into the sun. Acrylic is very easily scratched but in the same way it is very easily polished.

    Simply take a piece of fine grade abrasive as used in finishing the paintwork of cars and gently cut back the scratch until they are has become an evenly matte surface. Then polish it back to clear acrylic using some proprietary silver polish wadding. It takes some elbow grease but you will be rewarded with a dome port that is immaculately clear of marks.

    Some say that glass ports are optically superior to acrylic ports. I have owned and used both including an optically coated glass port that I imported specially from Japan and can tell you that the pictures taken with both this and a top quality acrylic dome are indistinguishable.

    A manufacturer like AOI makes a range of glass and acrylic dome ports for Olympus system compact camera housings so the choice is yours.

    You may find that a large glass port is easier to use for those over-and-under shots taken at the surface because droplets of water are less likely to cling to the glass. A large dome port certainly helps get those type of pictures because, remember, the lens has to focus on a nearby virtual image for the under part and the over part is in air, probably at infinity. You need to use very small lens apertures to get the huge depth-of-field needed or a split close-up lens that affects only the bottom part of the lens. These rarely fit on fish-eye lenses.

    Some underwater photographers report good results using smaller domes for these over-and-under pictures but invariably they are in bright sunshine that allows them to use the smallest lens aperture with perfectly calm water, but they normally need to make an exposure adjustment in digital post-processing to get both halves of the picture in balance.

    The important thing to remember is that when buying a port, you will need the right extension ring to position it correctly relative to the lens. Alas, it’s not something you can confirm by taking a picture when in the equipment sales room and not underwater.977685_632320780114194_1262934048_o

  • Close-Focus Wide-Angle

    A new buzz-word expression that has developed among underwater photographers is Close-focus Wide-angle or CFWA. What is it and how do you do it?

    Terrestrial photographers have been using wide-angle lenses for years and some caught on to the idea that by getting really close to your subject with a very wide-angle lens on your camera gave you  the steep perspective that added drama and put the viewer right in with the subject. Doyen of war photographers, Don McCullin was a great exponent of this technique. He used to say that you need to get close to the action, then closer still.

    Photographers often talk about the quality of the glass - their lenses. Underwater, the one aspect that tends to ruin the quality of our pictures is the poor quality of the water we are in. It's full of detritus and plankton. 30-metres of horizontal visibility is thought to be gin-clear whereas if that was all you had in air it would be considered a heavy mist at least. It's a great leveller and sometimes buying better quality cameras can be fraught with disappointment. We need better quality water first! So we use wide-angle lenses not often to get a wider shot but to allow us to get close to our subject without cropping out any part of it.

    Olympus TG4 with i-Das Fisheye lens Olympus TG4 housing with i-Das Fisheye lens attached.

    Whereas a fish-eye lens would be a strange choice for a terrestrial shot, underwater it can make complete sense, allowing you to get really close. The dome at the front makes a virtual image by the refraction of the light as it passes from water to the air inside the dome and it's this the camera focuses on. It used to be the province of only very expensive DSLR cameras in tailor-made housings but now you can get an i-Das fish-eye lens for many compact cameras and the route is open for CFWA pictures. Look at how the steep perspective of the close camera-to-subject position translates into much more interesting pictures! Here are some examples.

    Firstly I show you the final shot that was first published in many diving magazines throughout the world and later published in Shark Bytes after the background was simplified by computer retouching in Photoshop.

     

     

    A Great Hammerhead shark a few centimetres from the camera lens _FFF5723 _FFF5724 A Great hammerhead shark searching for prey (stingrays) hiding under the sand.

    With moving subjects, the trick is to hold your nerve and let the animal come to you. This Great hammerhead shark was searching for its natural prey, Southern stingrays, hiding under the sand in the Bahamas. The water was so shallow I was able to use natural light and shoot a series of pictures in quick succession.

    I didn't need to wait for any underwater flashgun to recycle and get ready for the next shot that can take one or two seconds, which is far too long a delay when recording fast moving subjects.

    The shark was maybe 6-metres-long from front to the tip of its tail and that length translates into an interesting perspective when the nearest part is only around 10-centimetres from the camera lens' dome.

    Naturally, you need to use a fast shutter-speed (I used 1/500 of a second) to freeze the movement, together with a small lens aperture, and I achieved this by increasing the ISO setting to get that. I simply adjusted the camera in advance to be sure the sand was correctly exposed, checking the result on the camera's LCD screen. I then shot a fast sequence of pictures as the animal passed.

    If you shoot in RAW mode, you can adjust the files at leisure later on a suitably equipped PC to get the exactly result you want.

    The i-Das fisheye lens will screw directly to the front of an Olympus  Tough TG4 camera's underwater housing or it will need an adapter ring to fit it to any housing that has a 67mm thread at the front of its port. It works best with the 28mm (equivalent) lens of the Sony RX100 Mk2 in its housing but you may need to zoom in to that equivalent setting with some later cameras such as the Sony RX100 Mk3 and Mk4. Come in to Ocean Leisure Cameras, the store within the store, and discuss your options with the experts. If you want to know more about the techniques of underwater photography, the Ocean Leisure book department has a wealth of resources and if you like the shark pictures you see here you can read about what it took to get such images, including plenty of pictures, in the new book Shark Bytes, also available from Ocean Leisure!

     

  • Photographing Seahorses and Pygmy Seahorses

     

    DSCF0562 Full-size seahorse photographed in Manado, North Suluwesi, Indonesia.
      Everybody loves a seahorse. Maybe it's because of their equine faces. They can be found in both temperate and tropical waters. Studland Bay, off the coast of Dorset, is known to have a population clinging to its weedy seabed. They are jealously protected from intrusion by underwater photographers but a voluntary body calling itself the Seahorse Trust. Elsewhere, I've photographed seahorses as far apart as St.Vincent in the Caribbean and South Leyte in the Philippines.
    Caribbean seahorse. Caribbean seahorse. (St.Vincent)
    Although sedentary by nature and seeming only to use prevailing currents to drift from location to location, they are quite difficult to photograph because they tend to shy away from cameras. It's as if, childlike, they think that if they cannot see a perceived threat it won't be able to see them. At around 10cm tall, you can get good pictures of them with your compact camera set in macro mode, but you need to be patient. Sometimes it means concentrating on your subject for many minutes, constantly allowing the camera to refocus, until the charming little animal has forgotten that you are there and turns back to face you. Then you grab the moment! Even when diving at night and discovering a seahorse clinging to some coral or maybe a sponge, it can be just as challenging because your light will disturb it. A good trick is to use a red filter over your focussing light or one that has a red light mode and they surprise the animal with the sudden pulse of white light from your flash, capturing its image while it is unaware. Most marine animals cannot see red light so that they are undisturbed in this way.
    Seahorse photographed under a pier or jetty in South Leyte  at night. Seahorse photographed under a pier or jetty in South Leyte, Philippines, at night.
    The Latin name for seahorse is Hippocampus which means ’Horse Caterpillar’. They without doubt a type of fish, they breathe through gills and control their buoyancy by means of a swim bladder like other typical fish. There are many sub-species but they all tend to live their lives in the same way, clinging to fixed points near the seabed with their long prehensile snake-like tails. They hunt for food by sight and their long thin snouts allow them to poke into nooks and crannies, sucking up tiny crustacea. Seahorse have excellent eyesight and can work their eyes independently so that they can look forwards and backwards at the same time, but they are poor swimmers, relying on their dorsal fins to propel them forwards while their pectoral fins, positioned either side of their head, are use for stability. They move into deep water to avoid rough seas. There are up to forty different species. Sea horses have exo-skeletons and are unusual in that it is the male of the species that carries and broods the eggs. The female passes the eggs to the male and he fertilises them within his pouch so its a sort of reverse pregnancy
    Searching for pigmy seahorses on a seafan. Searching for pygmy seahorses on a seafan.
    If you visit and dive in Eastern Indonesia, the Philippines and area to the East, you will notice dive guides searching among the gorgonia or seafans. They are looking for pygmy seahorses. This species has been discovered only in recent times but has proved to be a popular subject with underwater photographers. However, you need sharp eyes to see them. They are often only a few millimetres tall but look like perfectly formed animals - only in miniature! You need a powerful macro lens and good contrast lighting to record good images of these charming little beasts. Usually you will need to add a macro wet lens to any camera other than an expensive DSLR that might be equipped with suitably close focussing prime macro lens.
    Pigmy seahorse photographed in Lembeh Strait in North Suluwesi, Indonesia. Pygmy seahorse on a red gorgonia. (photographed in Lembeh Strait in North Suluwesi, Indonesia)
    Even then you might think of adding a suitable wet dioptre lens too, but you don’t need a top-of-the-range camera to get good seahorse pictures, even it they are so tiny. You can fit a powerful plus-10 dioptre macro wet lens to almost any camera housing that has a 67mm thread to its front port. Even if you have a proprietary plexiglass underwater housing with a rectangular front port you can usually obtain an adapter that will allow you to fit bayonet-type wet lenses. You can even stack these macro lenses to enable you to photograph the smallest subjects. You can even get something similar for your GoPro. Not only can you fit a wet lens but, because the camera is so close to the subject when you take a picture, it’s one time that the in-built camera flash might give you a satisfactory result. This will rely on fitting the light diffuser that originally came with the housing. However an off-board ancillary flashgun or strobe will be more controllable. You could use a video light but remember that although it will be close enough to your subject to give a good exposure, it might also fry it! It will certainly disturb it. Come in to Ocean Leisure and discuss what you might need to photograph seahorses.
    Pigmy Seahorse photographed in the Philippines. A tiny pygmy seahorse photographed in the Philippines. It is clinging to the gorgonia (sea fan) and has adopted the same colour as a method of disguise. (Photographed in the Philippines)
      THE EFFECT ON SEAHORSES In 2009, marine scientist Dave Harasti completed a study in Australia that looked at the direct impact of flash photography on seahorses. “One of the reasons why I did the study was that I was tired of hearing or reading that flashes kill seahorses, when there was no scientific proof,” says Dave, who is using the study as part of a PhD thesis on seahorse conservation. Dave has been studying threatened marine species for the past 10 years. A keen underwater photographer, he has also won several major competitions in Australia. “Part of my research is the use of photo IDs,” he explains. “I photograph a seahorse, look for any distinctive marks and use them for future individual identification. I have taken a lot of photographs of individuals and, given that they are still currently alive and in the same spot where I first found them, I consider it very unlikely that flash photography is having an impact on them. “A good example is my ‘Grandpa’ seahorse, which I have been photographing for three and half years. He’s still alive, currently mating with a real hot (in seahorse eyes) gold female, and is still found in the same spot. This says to me that flash photography does not cause seahorses to die or migrate from their location. “The work I have been doing is on the White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) and to a lesser extent the pot-belly seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis), so I can’t say that flash photography doesn’t impact on all seahorse species. However, some work we did in PNG involved photo ID of the pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti), and there was no impact on this species either. “I found that flash photography had no significant impact on seahorses’ behaviour, movements and longevity. In my humble opinion, photography poses no harm to seahorses. However, photographers touching and moving seahorses and their habitats is a completely different story!”      

  • Enjoy It, But You Can't Own It!

    There is something about the activity of scuba diving that can mislead you into thinking you are the only diver to visit a particular dive site. Maybe it’s the narrowing of vision caused by the refraction of light in the mask that gives rise to this perceived solitary experience. Pioneering Jacques Cousteau and his team probably were the only ones to have visited those places mentioned in his book The Living Sea at the time. Because of this they were able to embroider the facts without fear of discovery. In the early 50’s he said he stumbled across the WW2 wreck of the Thistlegorm in the Red Sea and omits to mention that British merchant-men on their way north to Suez dipped their ensigns as a mark of respect for this War Grave. They knew where it was because its masts still broke the surface. Later, the masts fell and the existence of wreck got forgotten.

    The Napoleonic era anchor found concreted into the seabed. The Napoleonic era anchor found concreted into the seabed but unsuccessfully recovered by the author.
    I had a small dive centre in Mallorca in the mid-eighties. One day the anchor of my unattended boat dragged in the current near the island of Mitjana and I found it fouled in some obstruction in the sand. I discovered it was a large Napoleonic-era Admiralty pattern anchor and decided to recover it. It was so well concreted in that although I had exposed it and attached lifting bags to it, it took many hours of work with hammers and chisels and by that Autumn it was still securely in place. I went back to the UK and returned in the Spring only to find that anchor proudly displayed in the entrance to a small local hotel. Another diver had finished the job and lifted it and I didn’t get a mention let alone the return of my lifting bags. I couldn’t complain. The anchor was not mine. You cannot claim ownership of things found in the sea, yet people still do. About the same time a British couple operating a dive boat in the Red Sea discovered a wreck and systematically plundered all the brass from it. That included many portholes, angel lamps and the compass binnacle. I even made a video of them doing it.
    The Carnatic. No sign of any brasswork now. The Carnatic. No sign of any brasswork now.
    In fact the compass binnacle became a point of issue because another British captain called Darren ‘stole’ it from where it had been left on the shallow reef top. I pointed out that Darren could not have stolen it from them because they were guilty of stealing it from the wreck themselves. It was not a popular point made! All the brass was shipped back to England where the man continued life as a schoolteacher. The wreck was at first named after him and his wife, then named after the multitude of tonic bottles that were located in the bowels of the wreck, and finally its plundered remains became revealed as the Carnatic, a P&O steam-sailing ship. Maybe you’ve dived it. That couple finally retired to live in La Paz in Mexico. I don’t know if they went to the expense of shipping all the brass out there or maybe it went to scrap-metal merchant.
    Sharks at Sha'ab Rumi reef in the Sudan. Grey Sharks at Sha'ab Rumi reef in the Sudan.
    At the start of the ‘nineties I was a dive-guide in the Red Sea and used to conduct a shark-feed dive at Sha’ab Rumi. There were only two other boats operating out of Port Sudan doing the same. Soon other dive boats started making the long haul down from Egypt with regular groups of divers and among them was a well-heeled diver called Norman Temple. He decided that the sharks at Sha’ab Rumi were his and invented the Sha’ab Rumi Shark Club. The Israeli captain and crew of the boat they used, Sea Surveyor, was unimpressed when Mr Temple invited them to apply for membership! I have not been able to discover what happened to Norman Temple since that time.
    a case of shells hammered open by Kenny MacDonald in 1992. A case of shells hammered open by Kenny MacDonald in 1992.
    Meanwhile a small group of foreign dive guides were told about a fantastic wreck by Shimshon Macchia, an Israeli skipper who had decided to return back to Israel for good. It was Autumn 1992. I was among those privileged to dive it. I will always remember Kenny MacDonald, the engineer from the Lady Jenny V hammering open one of the many silver boxes only to discover it contained four shells. We laughed at his antics as he attempted to rig as many motorbikes upright on the decks of the trucks that formed the wreck’s cargo. At that time they even still had their tool kits in place under their seats. In January of that year I went with British diver David Wright to document the whole wreck. It was truly stunning but during our tenth dive on it a boat arrived from Hurghada. It was the Lady Somaya owned by German dive centre owner Rudi Kneip. After its divers descended we were deafened by the noise of hammers as those divers ripped off souvenirs. I decided that the wreck was going to be changed dramatically and published an article about it in Diver Magazine that May. Later that year I published an article about the way the wreck's cargo was being trashed. It was entitled Diego You Should Be Ashamed.
    Diego, you should be ashamed! Diego, you should be ashamed!
    Some of my diving friends including German Udo and Mike Archer thought I had made a breach of confidence but I wanted as many divers to see it as possible before it was ruined. By 1993 it had become the most oft dived wreck in the world and the damage was done.
    One of the motorbikes on the wreck of the Thistlegorm  plundered by souvenir hunters within months of the wreck being rediscovered. One of the motorbikes on the wreck of the Thistlegorm plundered by souvenir hunters within months of the wreck being rediscovered.
    Rudi Kneip eventually returned to Germany where he spent his last days. Kenny went on to another career in Vancouver. We don't know what happened to Udo. Mike is in Malta. The wreck has seen literally thousands of divers visit it since and recently I was dismayed to see that proprietorship for one of the Norton bikes has recently been ascribed to a young woman who was probably not even born back in 1992. It is not her bike. Jeremy Strafford-Deitsch, a pioneering shark photographer, discovered a place in the Bahamas Abaco chain where massive bull sharks aggregated. He invited me to join him there and later invited Shark Behavourist Eric Ritter to do the same. Eric soon claimed these sharks for his own; that is until he was severely bitten by one. That island is now closed for diving and Jeremy lives in his castle in Cornwall where he still writes books, but not necessarily about diving. American dive operators, driven out of Florida by a change in the law, have adopted some shark diving sites around Grand Bahamas and Bimini. They frown at the activities of Bahamian dive operators that legitimately have every right to dive there too. And so it goes on. Divers make their own voyage of discovery but they should respect the achievements of those that went before them. They too will move on in life and find that others are later claiming their individual discoveries for themselves. You may want to but you cannot have proprietorship of what is found in the sea. There really is very little that’s new under the sun. John Bantin is author of Amazing Diving Stories.

  • Octoporn!

    _DSC3979The common octopus can be found throughout the temperate and tropical marine waters of the world and makes a good subject for your camera. It is an intelligent mollusc that has a complex eye mechanism that leads us to believe it can see very well. It can pass its boneless body through the tiniest of holes and it has the uncanny ability to change both its colour and texture at will by rotating tiny discs within the structure of its skin. This is used primarily as a strategy to avoid being detected by both prey and predator but is also a useful tool for communication and the expression of emotion. Never try to describe an octopus by its colour. This can range from a serene pale blue most often seen by divers at night, to an angry deep red with a white central stripe encountered by divers that try to interfere with one of these remarkable creatures. During the summer months the male octopus seeks out a female with which to mate and having done so begins a courtship ritual that encompasses all his flamboyant abilities to change his appearance. I was lucky enough to find two octopuses romancing together and photograph the whole forty-five minute sequence of events._DSC4093 The male stood erect, puffed up and demonstrating his ability to become dark and knobbly. She in turn will made herself smooth and silky, often embracing herself with her own tentacles as if to appreciate her own sensuality. Octopus have the ability to alter their size too. At this time the male was big and impressive while the female appeared small and demure. _DSC4107The male specially adapts one of his tentacles to become a sexual organ and it is this that is used to pass packets of sperm to the female. He proffered this tentatively, hoping to seduce her into accepting it. She coyly rejected him at first while he put on alternative displays of colour and texture in the hope of hitting upon a combination that pleased her. _DSC4138aThis game went on for a long period of time until he successfully persuaded her to accept his advances and penetration ensued. At this time she too changed from smooth and silky to be as knobbly as he was, and then back again. They took no notice of me, the camera-toting voyeur, even though I was extremely close to them. The male octopus pursues the female until she catches him! They stayed locked together for some time while his sperm was passed in special packages to her. They seemed to be enjoying it immensely and took little notice of the clatter of my camera or the pulses of light from my flash. _DSC4152Once the job was complete, she became impressively large while he looked very much deflated. She kept hold of his precious tentacle and dragged him off unwillingly. Was she taking him shopping? No, she’s looking for a suitable home. Does this story sound familiar? _DSC4150Once the female octopus finds a suitable place to lay her eggs she demonstrates what a dedicated mother she is. She stays will her eggs, oxygenating them regularly by blowing fresh water over them via her siphon. She stays until they are hatched, never leaving them to feed and consequently finally ending her life in the process. The male however escapes, usually leaving that specially adapted tentacle behind with her. He eventually grows a replacement but in the mean time he goes off looking for more action. You might see the occasional lucky male octopus with very few tentacles left while he cruises the reef, still looking optimistically for more action! You can get material like this on any underwater camera set-up, from GoPro, through compact cameras to the full nine-yards of a digital SLR. If you want to know how to get pictures as sharp and clear as this, check with the people at Ocean Leisure Cameras. If you need an octopus-rig for your regulator, the main store at Ocean Leisure has a selection to choose from. If you've enjoyed reading this blog, you will enjoy Amazing Diving Stories by the same author.

  • Who Am I and Where Did I Come From?

    Bantin's BlogI used to be technical editor of Diver Magazine, but after twenty-one years as an active diving journalist, travelling all round the world and experiencing a wide range of conditions I decided to retire. I’d been going on dive trips every month and sometimes more often than that. I calculated I had made more than two hundred and fifty of these expeditions and that’s a lot of dives! After doing multiple plane journeys for dive trips to many different distant exotic sounding places, I was starting to feel jaded. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing – eventually! However the inactive life of retirement didn’t sit well with me and a year later I decided I still wanted to make use of the huge amount of knowledge I’d accrued about all manner of diving locations, technique and underwater photography and found an outlet for this at Ocean Leisure, probably the most comprehensively stocked dive store in London. Within the first week I was meeting some customers, old friends, that I had last shared a cabin with in places as far away and as far apart as Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, as well as making a great many new friends too. What really impresses me about the people who work at Ocean Leisure and Ocean Leisure Cameras (a store within the store) is the vast amount of product knowledge that they have at their disposal. They are almost without exception young; many are multi-lingual and, of course very enthusiastic about their subject. In fact at first I felt a little bit out of my depth and that’s the first time in a very long time indeed. If you want to talk about diving, I’m your man, but I’m still learning about the incredibly comprehensive stock held at Ocean Leisure. This is especially true in the camera department because the advances in digital camera technology during the last couple of years are unprecedented. For example, that annoying lull between pressing the shutter release and recording a picture, experienced with older compacts, has more or less disappeared. Then there’s the ever-onward marching technology of GoPro. These tiny little cameras are suitable to taking places where you would never have dreamed of taking a camera before and they simply marched off the shelves as the must-have Christmas present for 2014. Ocean Leisure Cameras stocks a massive range of accessories that will allow you to combine a GoPro with your favourite all-action activity. When you visit, I’m easy to spot. I’m the older person. Please bear with me if I need to ask one of the young blades where to find something that you are particularly interested in. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of diving and underwater photography equipment!

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