Underwater Photography is Not Something You Can Just Dive Into-Part 1 of 2

Robin Leworthy Wilson Dive Journal 1 - February 2013 PART 1 of 2  Underwater Photography is Not Something You Can Just Dive Into

I have always been intrigued by underwater photography and felt 2013 was the year that I was going to do it. In one month I completed the PADI Scuba Diver, Open Water Diver and an Introductory Underwater Photography Course.

The experience is literally out of this world, one that I especially encourage. The people who helped accomplish my goal exceeded all expectations. They prepared me for the unexpected, inspire me to train, hone in on my skills to be a better scuba diver and photographer.

It was my big birthday and I wanted to reach deep into my bucket. Without looking back, I called “Float N’ Flag” in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Full of knowledge and motivation Dave Nixon, Store Manager signed me up for the classroom and pool segment of the PADI Certification. In a whirlwind weekend Mark Cline, Mike Tokarchuck, Wolfgang Troutmann and Jamey English diligently prepared me for what was to come in the Bahamian open waters.

Prior to my Bahama departure, The Float N’ Flag offered an information session on the Zoop Dive Computer. Roy Moore assisted me with the basics for my trip and assured me that the most important and first investment that a diver should make is a dive computer. As a new diver it assisted me in dive preparation, descent, ascent and my post dive log. I love my Zoop!

Unexso

Upon arrival to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island a cold front followed us from Canada. Weather did not allow us to dive the first day, but I couldn’t wait to get to UNEXSO and meet the dive staff.

I was chatting with the dive instructors about what I had heard back home from the divers at Float N’ Flag. There is this shark lady who hypnotizes sharks (TI-Tonic Immobility). I’m going on and on about how she is inducted into the Hall of Fame on YouTube…BLAH BLAH BLAH and the UNEXSO staff start to chuckle. “What?” I ask and Keith, one of the dive masters tells me that the person in front of me is the shark lady herself, Christina Zanato [Advanced Diver | Earth Illustrated | International Legends of Diving | Women's Diver Hall of Fame | Our World Scholarship].

At that point Christina invited me on one of her shark feeding dives. Yup WOW! I really had my heart set on trying some underwater photography with Eddy Raphael too, but let’s see how the open water checkout dives go first. I’m not sure how I would handle a shark encounter…Never mind be a guest at their dinner table (Little did I know!*!*!).

[caption id="attachment_5028" align="alignnone" width="650"]Christina Zenato with LJ LJ is a huge shark fan and excited here to meet UNEXSO shark lady, Christina Zenato[/caption]

My PADI Instructor was Jarvis Rolle. He was very professional, firm yet playful in his instruction.  Our first open water dive was Ben’s Blue Hole. One of the first things I saw on our dive were two Caribbean reef sharks. Aware of all of the beautiful aquatic life around me; I was very comfortable and did my dive skill testing. It wasn’t until I got back on the boat did I feel seasick and vomit before my second dive.

Reluctant to quit, I got back in the water at the wreck dive site, PaPa Doc. The ocean is a beautiful world. I saw a variety of parrotfish, angelfish, grouper, trumpetfish, yellow stingray, barracuda, spotted moray eel, lionfish, peacock flounder, cow fish, octopus, shrimp and many other aquatic species that I admire and want to research.

Upon ascent I needed to remove my weight belt as part of my skill testing. When I released the buckle, my right hand pointer fingernail ripped off.  I had my snorkel in my mouth and then began to vomit in the waves again.

Lesson One-If you get seasick take precaution prior to dive departure. Lesson Two-No matter how pretty you think matching your nail color to yellow scuba gear may be…long nails are not conducive to diving…REALLY!

Jarvis was extremely patient, encouraging & understanding. He was very strict with keeping an eye on my air. He had me practice out of air scenarios unexpectedly throughout our dives. Jarvis threw in random skills to keep me alert and ready. One of my favorite moments was when Jarvis pointed out the jaw fish. These fascinating fish hover over their holes like tiny little Casper the friendly ghosts. He also pointed out fish that skip along the ocean floor and beautiful aquatic life hidden in the reef.

Regardless of my nauseous green eggs and ham display that morning, I knew I loved to dive. I met a beautiful couple from Alaska and many other fabulous people from around the world. 

[caption id="attachment_5027" align="alignnone" width="650"]Unexso Fun Staff I meet amazing people when travelling! Alaska, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France and Brad was from Burlington...Imagine that! UNEXSO's Kelly and Cory could brighten anyone's day! They were my sunshine in Bahamas! (Crazy Weather)[/caption]

The next day I was excited and ready to explore the great ocean again. Dive three was at Littlehale’s Lair. This time a Caribbean reef shark decided to swim along side of us. Jarvis joked with me because you should be within an arms length of your buddy, but I was shoulder to shoulder. This was my first time a big shark was eye to eye, a few feet swimming along side of me. It was an exhilarating and heart pounding experience. Little did I know that something even more profound would happen next.

I was just finishing my surface remove/replace BCD skill on the fourth dive at PaPa Doc. Just as I got my BCD back on Jarvis yells “Hammerhead Shark”…”Hammerhead Shark”. OK I thought he was messing with me…You know last checkout dive…ready to get back on the boat…Did I pass? Ha Ha Ha! I put my regulator back in my mouth and looked below my fins. A stunning 10ft hammerhead shark is swimming right below us. What a magnificent end to triumphant day of diving with UNEXSO.

[caption id="attachment_5026" align="alignnone" width="650"]Congratulations PADI Open Water Scuba Diver, Robin Leworthy Wilson celebrating with PADI Instructor, Jarvis Rolle. Congratulations PADI Open Water Scuba Diver, Robin Leworthy Wilson celebrating with PADI Instructor, Jarvis Rolle.[/caption]

The previous year I was speaking to Eddy Raphael who is an amazing photographer that has worked in commercial photography for Vanity Fair, Cosmo, Discovery, NOVA/PBS and Germany’s Next Top Model, only to name a few.  He too had a passion to be an underwater photographer and is now one of the best in the industry. Eddy manages the photography/videography and creative affairs of UNEXSO...to be continued

Underwater Photography is Not Something You Can Just Dive Into [Part 2 of 2!]

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