Underwater Photography

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Underwater photography is a favored activity for many divers traveling to the Cayman Islands. Less particles in the water increases the water clarity as well as the number of good images a photographer can create in a dive. The brilliant orange elephant ear sponges, schools of chromis, ever-hungry stingrays and roaming lobsters make this a diving photographer's delight. The marine diversity and unique topography make the Cayman Islands a great place for colorful wide angle lens work, medium focal length for fish and macro photos alike.

Most of the larger dive centers provide camera rental or have a staff pro who can provide instruction or shoot a personal video. E-6 slide processing

is becoming harder to find as digital takes over the photo scene by leaps and bounds. Ask if your dive center or live aboard offers it before you go if you want on-the-spot results. Print film is still processed commercially.

The main camera store in town is The Camera Store in the Waterfront Centre on the main drive across from the new cruise ship terminal in George Town. It offers a large selection of digital cameras, lenses, print film processing and printing, camcorders and lots of accessories and digital media. Cathy Church's Underwater Photo Centre at the Sunset House Hotel also offers a nice array of gear and housings, plus instruction from Cathy or Herb Rafael.

Doing boat dives and especially shore dives with a good Cayman Islands underwater photographer is highly recommended, as they can point out habitat and find that elusive fish, like the ever photogenic pike blenny.

In the Cayman Islands, most good dive boats have a camera table of some sort and a fresh water bucket that can hold around three housed point-and-shoot cameras and strobes (or one SLR system). If you want your own freshwater rinse, it may be best to head to Foster's or one of the main stores and buy a cooler big enough for your SLR to use for your dive week.

On land, the tanks dedicated to camera rinse can be rather crowded with both boat and shore divers all sharing the same bin. In some cases, masks and fins are allowed to be washed in the same water. Few operations have large specifically dedicated camera-only rinse tanks. As most divers use wrist lanyards, a crowded rinse bin and boat rinse tub can result in other users hastily pulling their gear out and snagging yours as well. This can cause latches to unlock and uncovered domes and ports to get scratched. While it seems like a good idea to keep your camera wet all the time, the lack of boat basins and the overcrowding at the shop can become a problem. Better to keep your camera wet with a damp towel on board and then soak it in your hotel room's bathtub.

Also, be warned that the sand here is very fine at most beaches. Since beach diving is a major part of the dive scene, entries in and out of surf zones with a lot of fine sand in the water can be harmful to the health of your camera. Even if you are going up a ladder at the ironshore (rocky limestone shoreline), that shallow surf zone is pretty well full of tiny sand particles floating around. After beach dives, carefully check and clean your o-rings to ensure fine sand particles have not gotten lodged in the o-ring slots and on the rings themselves. A little preventive maintenance in the evenings can be worth many dollars in replacing a camera due to a flooded housing from an errant speck of beach sand.

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