Archive for the ‘Master Scuba Diver Challenge’ Category

Digital Underwater Photography

Posted on March 6th, 2013 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Digital Underwater Photography

Like most scuba divers, you were probably already fascinated with the beauty of both the scenery and marine life of the underwater world from the first dive. The next step is capturing this unique environment by taking some images with underwater photography. Whether you intend to take snapshots to show your friends and family, or create beautiful images of the world below by traveling to exotic destinations, you have to start somewhere.


At some point or another, most divers have thought about learning how to shoot underwater photography, many have taken the adventure dive as part of the advanced open water course. The affordability of digital cameras and the ability to instantly see the outcome of your efforts has reduced the barrier to trying and the learning curve to almost nothing. Add the ability to shoot video clips with even the most basic point & shoot cameras, and you can make scuba diving vacation memories to be the envy of your office and family.

There are many things to think about BEFORE picking up a camera.
Good buoyancy control is an essential skill not only for diving but for taking good photographs too. This needs to be mastered before adding the extra equipment and objective of taking a camera underwater. Taking the Peak Performance Buoyancy certification can do this.
Knowing the marine life you are going to photograph is a pretty big part of photography too, you need to be able to predict the movements and behaviour to get the best images. This can be studied in the underwater AWARE Fish ID and Naturalist specialties.
Obviously you will have new equipment with you, (the Camera) so a course, which teaches the use of this, is a good start point too, the Digital Underwater Photography course will cover this for you.


You may be a competent or experienced photographer on land but moving this experience underwater has a whole different set of issues to think about.

The first step to understanding any kind of photography is understanding your camera. If you have a new camera and housing, take the time to read the manuals. It may seem like a simple thing to do, but many people don’t.
As with any new diving equipment that you purchase, you should try out the photography equipment in a pool prior to diving, whenever possible. You will also want to take new camera housings underwater without the camera to ensure they are functioning properly. You don’t want to find problems with the housing while your camera is in it, this could lead to an expensive lesson.
No matter what camera you have, from an entry-level digital “point & shoot” to the most expensive dSLR , there are ten rules of underwater photography that should always be remember. Many of these rules are related to composition in the underwater environment and every photographer can benefit from proper composition.

1) Get Close, and when you think you are close enough, get closer again

Underwater photography differs from conventional wildlife photography, as it needs to be conducted up close. To get the best results you have to put as little water between your lens and the subject as possible.


The water holds small particles in it that reduce the contrast and sharpness of your image by dispersing light, this is called backscatter.


Water absorbs the light very quickly, and the most common complaint for new underwater photographers is the dull colours of their getting closer and therefore removing the amount of water between the camera and the subject will mean a clearer, sharper, and more colorful image.

2) Shoot Up

Pointing the camera down as you take an image is often easier but will not result in the most interesting images.

Often the subject is lost in the background of reef as it is a more cluttered area. Pointing the camera more up can lead to clearer backgrounds and much more interesting images as you have contrast between the foreground and background.


3) Focus On The Eyes

A focused image is obviously important, but where you focus is too. Try to keep the eye of the subject in sharp focus, use this as the centre of the camera’s focal point.



4) Keeping Yourself Focused
Diving with a camera and diving without a camera are two totally different activities. After diving with a camera, you may find that those dives very different.
Patience is an extremely good quality to have when doing underwater photography, you may need to wait for divers to move out of the frame area, or for the subject to become used to you and start to behave in a more normal manor.


As a casual underwater photographer you dont need to be obsessive, but a level of personal focus and attention to detail will take your photography a long way.
Try to focus on a particular type of underwater photography, such as close-up or scenic and perfect your skills before moving on to the next type of shot. Avoid the shotgun approach of trying to capture everything that you see.


5) Use a Strobe

All divers know that water absorbs light, and therefore reduces the colour of the images you take, a strobe can be a way of restoring this.

Adding artificial light can give instant results to the photograph, but it is important to get the exposure right. Now most units come TTL ready and should give the correct light in all, but the most difficult conditions.

The photographer though has to ensure it is pointed in the right direction. Sounds simple, but if it is incorrectly positioned not only does it alter the quality of the image, but it also refracts the light so your subject appears closer and larger than it really is.

6) Shoot, Review, Adjust, Rinse, Repeat

Be patient, even though the digital photography gives us instant access to images, they still take time to perfect. The learning curve is shorterned by being able to see the image you have taken instantly on the screen. Take advantage of this by reviewing these images immediately after the photo has been taken, correct and re-take the image, adjust for composure, light, colour etc.

7) Go Manual
Starting off in auto mode is not a problem. But auto settings can only get you so far in underwater photography. To really control the exposure, colour and sharpness of your images you’ll need some degree of manual controls.

8) Maintain Your Equipment

Water and electronics don’t mix well so it is important to take your time when setting up your camera and housing. Make sure o-rings are clean and greased, but not over greased. A strand of hair or spec of dirt can be the difference between flooding your camera or using it. Always rinse your camera gear off with fresh water after every dive,never let salt water dry on your equipment.


While out on the dive boat be sure to keep camera gear out of the sun and away from heavy dive gear like scuba tanks and weight belts.

9) Respect the Environment

Remember, we are privileged guests in the underwater world, respecting the environment and marine life should be one of your top priorities. Before you start taking your camera underwater it is important to have excellent bouyancy skills, this will help protect both yourself and the environment around you. Keep all of your gear streamlined as to minimize the potential of a gauge or hose getting entangled or damaging the reef. Never harass or touch marine life. virtually everything you could touch is alive, touch it and it will damage it or even worse.
It can too often be seen the photographers who want a shot no matter what they have to break, kill or damage. It is important to stress to anyone who is keen to start underwater photography that as well as learning how to take a picture, you must also be environmentally aware.

If you have to damage anything to take a shot – don’t take it. Sometimes it is better to look and enjoy than try to take a photograph.

10) Have Fun

Don’t forget that underwater photography is supposed to be fun. Don’t get too caught up in the technical side. Start off with the basics, get a feel for it, and learn the technical side later.
Most of all, remember what you learned in your scuba diving class. You are a diver first and then a photographer. Your safety and that of divers around you depends on keeping this in mind at all times.

Want to go Deep?

Posted on June 22nd, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Want to go Deep?

This is often the first question asked by divers after a dive, some divers seem to enjoy the dive more if they have been deeper rather than staying in the shallow water.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

For some divers deep water holds a fascination not experienced in the shallows.

To enable divers to go deeper than the entry level of 18m there is the Advanced open water course and then the Deep diver specialty, these enable the diver to go to a depth of 30m and 40m respectively.

The main reason divers go deep is to see and experience things not found in the shallower waters. This could be shipwrecks, often better preserved due to less exposure to the weather and sea conditions. Deep water pinnacles which often have fantastic sponge and coral life due to less impact from surge waters, or a particular marine live that prefers the deeper waters.


There are though disadvantages to going deeper, less light penetrates the depth, so reducing the colours, less bottom time due to increase nitrogen loading during the dive, nitrogen narcosis affecting the divers judgment and faster air consumption due to the pressure.

Deep diving is safe as long as certain precautions are taken. These are covered in the Deep Speciality  course.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

Simple precautions such as regular air checks, proper dive planning using tables or eRDP combined with a dive computer, safety stops and slow ascents.

The Deep speciality course also teaches the use of drop tanks or pony bottles as a precaution for low on air situations.

Most divers when completing deep dives also combine this with diving using computers or multilevel dives plans using the eRDP. This way a longer dive is permitted than using dive tables alone. The Deep diver course also goes into the theory of this and the benefits.

Nitrogen Narcosis is a phenomena only experienced at depth, due to the partial pressure of the nitrogen gas in the air we breath. It affect different divers at different depths, but generally the deeper you go the more pronounced the effect would be.

During the Deep diver course you would complete 4 dives to enable you to go to a depth of 40m safely. The course covers the planning  and execution of the dives, accounting for narcosis, DCS, air consumption, navigation and gaining the most from the dive.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  5 * CDC

Want to go deeper still?  ask us about the Tec Rec Courses

Why can’t I go inside the wreck?

Posted on June 11th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Why can’t I go inside the wreck?

The first question we often get asked when talking about wreck diving is ‘can we go inside’.  Scuba divers have always held a fascination by what the wrecks hide and hold within their bodies this is what makes the Wreck diver speciality course so popular. By taking this training and holding this license is the only way that wreck penetration is allowed.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Wrecks are manmade structure that have either been deliberately sunk or have had some event where they have sunk without intention. Over the time they become a new reef and attract marine life to it and become an artificial reef in their own right, offering a habitat for a variety of creatures.

The wrecks offer a new challenge for many divers, who are interested in the different terrain underwater, the history, or heritage that goes with the site.

There are many types of wrecks, most often they are ships, but can include, submarines, tanks, airplanes, or automobiles.

In the Phuket region we have many wreck dives on offer.

The King Cruiser, our largest wreck which was a car ferry that crashed in Anemone Reef on one of it’s journeys to Phi Phi.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Wreck Speciality

Marla’s Mystery, deliberately sunk by Scuba Cat as an artificial reef at Racha Yai Island.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Marlas Mystery

The Haruby and Andaman Eagle, also at Racha Yai Island, deliberately sank to give new dive sites.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks at Racha Yai

Speedboat wreck again on Racha Yai that has been visited many times by divers over the years it has been underwater.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in Racha Yai

The Tuna Fish Wreck in Similans, again deliberately sank for a new dive site.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in the Similans

The Atlantis X again in the Similans, a dive liveaboard that ventured there in the closed season and suffered damage due to the weather, she sank on Island number 8.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Wrecks in the Similans

With all these wrecks available to recreational scuba divers it is not surprising that the Wreck diver course is so popular at Scuba Cat.

Wreck diving offers great rewards but in return it can also carry greater risks, especially if penetration is involved, so to be able to do this the Wreck Speciality course is essential.

Most wrecks can be enjoyed simply by following the outline, but some require more complex navigation techniques, which are taught on the course.

The main concern with wrecks can be the need to monitor air and depth more closely, being aware on entanglement problems, so particular vigilance with streamlining, and sharp objects.

The Wreck diver course emphasizes the need to carry a knife, and use of gloves, along with good buoyancy control.

The course consists of 4 dives each building on the skills learnt in the previous dive, leading to the diver being able to penetrate a wreck safely.

The use of anti silting dive techniques, navigation, lines, and safety cylinders is covered within the course.

Why is good Buoyancy control important?

Posted on June 9th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Why is good Buoyancy control important?

Buoyancy control is key to all aspects of diving and as such should feature heavily in your dive training.

During the open water course the basics of buoyancy control as mastered, with fin pivots, hovers and buoyancy checks, then during the Advanced Open Water the option of Peak Performance Bouyancy is one that is always recommended by  Scuba Cat Instructors.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand

Did you know you can take this one stage further with the Peak performance buoyancy specialty.

Have you ever wondered why some people use less air than others, why some look graceful and others not, some photographers get steady shots and others blurred, some hang still on safety stops whilst others dance around, and some divers sink like stones rather than having a controlled slow decent?

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Contrl

"Mid water safety stop"

All of these can be due to buoyancy control, or the lack of it. Most of us have seen the diver who leaves a dust cloud behind them as they swim, by controlling buoyancy better this can be avoided as well as the damage to bottom dwelling creatures and delicate corals.

As divers we are privileged and can enjoy a fascinating underwater world which few people have access to, but we should preserve what we see and avoid damage to it.

By having greater control in the water this become second nature.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Contro

Control is achieved by not being overweighed, this also often resolves the faster air consumption rates too. It also corrects body positioning to reduce the possibility of damage.

Overweighting is a common mistake made by many divers, and is easily rectified by taking the Peak Performance buoyancy course.

During this you will spend the time learning to be relaxed, using breath control and streamlining. By doing this you can swim slower and more controlled being able to stop without changing depth and look more graceful.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Buoyancy Control

There is a lot a games to play during the course, which allows you to become more automated about the breathing patterns needed for each situation, and it makes it pretty fun too.

The Peak Performance Buoyancy course is one of the most useful ones you can take, with every diver who completes it improving in air consumption, control and grace. This specialty is the one that has an effect on every aspect of diving, underwater photo’s improve with a the increased steadiness of the dive. Depth is maintained rather than exceeded with more control, safety stops are never a struggle, and enjoyment of the dive due to less disturbance of the marine life is increased.

So what are you waiting for, sign up  for your  Peak Performance Buoyancy  Speciality today………become a great diver and continue your adventure

Multi Level Dive Planning

Posted on April 8th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Multi Level Dive Planning

What does that mean? When on dive boats sometimes you have divers on there who look at their computers and don’t know how to interpret what it is telling them.

The first thing you should do when buying a new piece of dive equipment is be trained on how to use it. With computers this means reading the instruction manual, and knowing what the numbers mean. The best way to do this is by taking the Multilevel Diver Speciality  which incorporates how to use dive computers. This means you don’t switch your brain of just because there is a dive computer on your wrist.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Dive Computers

So what are the benefits of the Multilevel Speciality?

It allows you to extend your bottom time by planning your dives in a slightly different way to what the RDP tables show you.

To be able to do this you would use the eRDPml, this will allow you to plan a dive safely within the RDP guidelines, then follow your plan using your dive computer. By doing the dives this way you will have several benefits:

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Speciality Courses


If your computer fails then you can still dive using the eRDPml as all your dives are planned before going into the water

It allows for proper dive planning, computers will allow you to dive in a way that is not recommended, and if you follow them blindly without knowing the theory behind what you are doing they will give you penalties for subsequent dives.

You learn the safety procedures for planning multilevel and computer dives.

By planning dives as multilevel dives and following your plan you will gain credit for the slower nitrogen absorption rates as you ascend during the dive. Most divers already dive in this way, so it is just a matter of gaining credit for what you are actually doing anyway.

During the Multilevel course you will learn about dive planning, organisation, dive techniques and potential problems. You need to take into consideration aspects such as air consumption, topography and temperature to come up with a realistic plan that will maximise the enjoyment of the dive. With the eRDPml the planning is simple and then you just need to follow that plan underwater. It is important to understand the concept behind the dive plan and use your computer to help you follow this, rather than allowing the computer to dictate the dive. Computers estimate the time remaining underwater, and are a guideline or calculator that reads depth and time accurately. They have very limited dive planning functions which is why you need to plan the dive first using the eRDPml.

During the Multilevel diver course you will learn more about safety stops, decompression theory and the care and maintenance of your dive computer.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Specialities

So what are you waiting for, sign up for your Multilevel Diver Speciality today………become a SAFER Diver and continue your adventure