I used the six dives at Emerald Bay to work up several new dive items that I’m getting better at. I have an updated wet suit for colder water diving – an Excel hooded full suit using thickness of 9, 7, and 6 mm material, which changes the bouyancy of the suit and you need to change around the dive weights. The suit has an interesting interior lining called “Thermo Dry Celliant”. The lining is kind of like a micro-fiber that is supposed to retain/reflect heat inside the suit. The lining also makes it relatively easy to get in to/out of the suit as the fibers are not as “sticky” to the skin as neoprene. The 976 suit is thicker and more bouyant than my 1/4″ neoprene wetsuit jacket that I normally use, so I spent some time getting the dive weights right. Turns out what works for me (so far) is 12 pounds on a belt, 10 pounds in each dumpable side pocket of the BC (20 pounds total), and 2 pounds each in the little BC pockets adjacent to the dive tank (4 pounds total) – that gives me 12 pounds on a belt I can easily drop, and 20 pounds in the BC I could also drop – the 4 pounds up by the tank are not droppable while wearing the BC. The tank is a high pressure (3400 PSI) steel 80 that is smaller (therefore more dense, though slightly lighter) than an aluminum 80 at 3000 PSI, in theory less weight is needed with the steel tank.
With the suit and weights worked out, next step was to bring in the camera and dive lights. I’ve used the camera previously, the lights and tray I wanted to work with as they are relatively new to me. One the details is remembering to keep the lights, as mounted on the ends of the arms, out of the image. It’s not that easy to peer into the rear of the camera’s dive housing to check out the image as I am near-sighted and use corrective lenses set into the mask – as I lean in closer to examine the camera’s rear LCD screen that little screen goes blurry!
With the camera and lights working I went around and tried out a bunch of things. That worked fairly well. Last bit up was clamping a GoPro 8 camera to the top of the main camera dive housing. The idea is to leave the GoPro running in video mode for the entire dive while using the Olympus camera on the tray to take still images. The lights are Light and Motion Sola Video Pro 3800, one on each arm. These are continuous lights and as such work for a video camera, and when close enough to the subject to a good job for the still camera.
After my first dive with the GoPro I figured out I needed to move a lot slower in the water and let things happen in front of the camera. The GoPro 8 does have a built-in stabilization mechanism and that mechanism produces distracting perspective changes when the camera is swung about too quickly. So slow and stable is what I tried out on the next dive.
I pulled together the better bits of that dive and connected them together as a short video representative of what I was seeing on the bottom in Emerald Bay. Above is the video, posted to youtube. The original video is 1920 x 1080 at 29.97fps, I edited it with Adobe Premiere Pro (the older locally installed software, not the current Create Cloud subscription-based software). I tested a series of different bit rates for the video image and found that 2 Pass Variable Bit Rate min of 20 max of 40 provided a reasonable image that minimized artifacting in the blue water while keeping the file size down (633MB file as compared to 1.2GB file). I use Zenfolio for image storage but Zenfolio’s video player is not as good as what YouTube provides, so I posted the video to YouTube. And unexpectedly, when I pasted the link into this WordPress page WordPress auto-magically brought up a little player with the video embedded in it. Most interesting!