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Dec 18, 2015

Dive Cozumel : video

This video was shot over one day's diving in Cozumel. We had a beautiful sunny day with great visibility. Thanks to the father and son team and Blue Life's guide: Sarah Pulitzer for modeling.

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Dec 17, 2015

Cenote Diving Video : Mexico

The second of 4 promotional videos for the Mexican Dive Operation in Playa del Carmen.
This video highlights the Cavern diving and cenote diving experience that Blue Life provides for scuba divers visiting Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun.

It took two days to shoot this video with two different sets of clients and three dive sites.

Shot mostly on the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, and the GoPro Session, and the Panasonic GH2 camera.

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Dec 11, 2015

First promotional video for Blue Life

This week I've been editing 4 promotional videos for the Mexican Dive Operation in Playa del Carmen.
Each video will appear on the dive operation's website to give potential customers some 'visual information' about what to expect from each service.

The 'Try Diving' video was shot in a day, utilizing a pool session and two boat dives. The ocean was a little misty from the rough weather we'd been having, so there was quite a bit of color correction.

The models were from Argentina and did a nice job for the camera. Dive instructor :Hugo de la Llata was extremely thorough with them as one of them hadn't dived before! So... method acting, it was.

I used a GoPro for all of the above water shooting and a Panasonic GH2 for the underwater stuff.

Take a look:

I need help: documentary in process (More info here )

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Dec 8, 2015

scuba foul

When scuba divers turn on each other...
video on facebook:

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Dec 1, 2015

The Dry Tortugas: a video

A Dive club trip to the Dry Tortugas.
Here's the video. (Don't let the kids watch)

I need help: documentary in process (More info here )

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Sep 20, 2015

GoPro Underwater: learn how

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Sep 19, 2015

My favorite Lobster (footage)

Using a Pansonic GH2 camera and some nice underwater lights, I captured the beautiful colors of this little critter.
Cozumel has crystal clear water and is a fantastic place to shoot video underwater.

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Aug 27, 2015

A Diary of Rebreather Training

"Death Machine" is how most scuba divers perceive the closed circuit rebreather.

The technology has been around since the early 1600s when adventurous types were burning potassium-nitrate inside early versions of steerable submarines. Centuries before Jacque Cousteau began pushing the limits of the SCUBA unit, innovators were learning how to 're-breath' their exhaled gas without passing out from excess carbon dioxide.
The JJ rebreather

The vast majority of us don't know much about the gas exchange taking place in our own bodies. It's new knowledge to most that we are sucking in only about 21% oxygen and expelling most of it again without using it:

Gas% in inhaled air% in exhaled air
Carbon dioxide0.044

To those of us who do some breathing underwater, the problem of wasting large amounts of oxygen with every breath is worth throwing significant amounts of time and money at. Knowing that there is a product that we can buy that solves this problem is extremely exciting for those of us who are prepared to trust ourselves, undertake the training and spend the money and the many hours practicing.

For years, I looked sideways at the breed of divers who appeared to us to be courting death by using these strange 'closed circuit rebreather' (CCR) machines with 'hundreds' of wires and hoses.

Like most scuba divers I had stored in the back of my small brain, random scraps of rumors about the accident 'statistics' that showed the rebreather world in a bad light. Statistics, of course, can tell almost any story you require them to and people's personalities are not part of the numbers.

Now that I'm on the other end of an education about rebreathers, I have become aware of the extent of the lack of knowledge among recreational open circuit divers, including my former self.

Still, rebreathers are not for everyone.
After interrogating a couple of trusted CCR instructors, I asked myself the following questions:

"How badly does my pride affect my decisions?"
  • Am I too proud to use a check-list?
  • If my equipment fails even the smallest pre-dive test, am I too proud to abort?
  • Am I too proud to admit that I am not equipped to rescue myself or another?
It can be hard to be honest with yourself when answering these questions. It might be more revealing to ask more particular questions such as: "Have I ever chosen to just sit a dive out on the boat when my friends and colleagues have gone diving?" or "How complacent have I become about my automobile driving? Do I text when I drive?" or "Have I ever run out of petrol, been too cheap to replace bald tires or have I ever accidentally left my wallet at home, and why?"

Questions, complacency or absent mindedness become serious in the context of rebreather diving. If you're the scuba guy who jumps in with your single tank turned off, then rebreathers are not a good idea for you at the moment. For you a rebreather IS a death machine.

Leaving your wallet at home is inconvenient, but a similar slip of the mind when diving a CCR might kill you.
Megaladon Rebreather

My first practical interaction with a rebreather diver was in Israel. A dive guide wanted to get his CCR back in the water while showing me Eilat's "Silk Road"(video) and in the process of his preparation, I was given an introductory look at how an ex-military guy does an equipment build and check. It was a demonstration of focus, simplicity and bloody-mindedness (things dear to my heart).

A few years of open circuit diving later, I found myself filming on the wreck of the Coimbra, at 180 feet breathing plain old air.  My bubbles were scaring the fish, I was narced from the excessive amount nitrogen present in the breathing gas at six atmospheres and the plan involved about 60 minutes of drifting-boat-decompression on a heaving anchor line in unfavorable ocean conditions, after a very limited time underwater. The 'talent' was on a rebreather and I should have been on closed circuit too for a gig like that.

The time had come to start learning more about rebreathers, how they work, which kind would suit  filming/diving/traveling. As luck would have it, I was called to Belgium for work, and Brugge is the home of the rEvo Rebreather factory who make a machine that some divers prefer.

Pete with Paul, the inventor of the rEvo CCR

After walking through the tiny, quiet and almost deserted factory, the order was placed with some trepidation and I started doing homework for the training that was looming a couple of Months away.

Training was thorough, and as warned, my two colleagues and I felt like we were starting diving almost from scratch:

The books often tell you that 'your learning is only just beginning', even as you finish your course.
True, that is. So off to practice what you have learnt and strive to increase the strength of the muscle memory that will keep you safe when things don't go as planned:

It was emphasized to me that I should accumulate 30 hours on the rebreather, early on, forming good habits, learning quickly from mistakes and getting comfortable in less challenging environments, such as tropical water with good visibility. Bonaire was my choice of location and it would turn out to be a great opportunity to get used to shooting video while on the CCR and iron out a few kinks in my rigging of which there were many. Messing around with weight placement and different brands of fins was also necessary with the rEvo which tends to pull a diver's feet downward.

A little warm water wreck diving on an old favorite sunken ship "The Hilma Hooker" before heading back to the cold North East Atlantic waters where the conditions would be far more challenging.

Thanks for visiting. I hope this breaks the ice for those of you who are CCR curious.

Dive safe.

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Apr 17, 2015

The Haloclines of Xunaan Ha

Part 3 of a four part cave dive series:
The beautiful haloclines of Mexico's Xunaan Ha cenote

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Mar 10, 2015

Etiquette for GoPro Users

Good diver behavior and etiquette seems to have gone out the window lately with the proliferation of the GoPro. 

The tendency for a new videographer is to concentrate on the wrong things, or to have their priorities backwards. Safety should always be the first consideration.

If a diver does not know how much gas they have, their depth or what is happening around them, then they should not be recording. It only takes a few seconds to check on these things and it could save a piece of coral, an angry buddy or it could even save a life.

You can read the rest of this article by downloading the magazine (free):

Here's the free download link of Xray magazine. Lot's of interesting articles.
On page 86 is an article I wrote about the GoPro, "do's and don'ts".

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Mar 6, 2015

Tips and Tools for GoPro underwater

The GoPro is a point-and-shoot camera, but for divers in particular, results can vary drastically depending on who is pointing and shooting, and what other gear is involved. 

Divers need to remember that the more water light must pass through, the more color is stripped away, starting with the reds, followed by the other colors of the rainbow.

This results in footage with a very blue or green cast. Easily remedied with the purchase of a filter and a video light or two, the resulting footage can be astoundingly different. A red filter will reduce the blue tint of an ocean environment, and a magenta filter will serve to cut back the green tint that tends to dominate footage shot in lakes, quarries, caves, and certain oceans.

Read the article

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Mar 4, 2015

Cave Diving Mexico, part 2 "Mayan Blue"

Shooting during cave diving has its perils: silt, navigation failure, task loading, gas consumption...
This is part 2 of a series of four videos I'm putting together for Blue Life, a dive operation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

This was all shot on a GoPro

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Feb 27, 2015

Cave Dive Part 1 Pet Cemetery : GoPro Video

Diving the Pet Cemetery with Blue Life:

Shot on a GoPro, this video shows what it's like to dive the Pet Cemetery Cenote in Mexico.

Watch part 2

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Feb 16, 2015

Mexican Cave Diving : A week of filming for GoPro Hero cameras

Seven days in Playa del Carmen, diving the surrounding underground systems, filming with four GoPros produced some spectacular footage. 
Playing with Natural Sunlight and shadows
I carried the Hero 4 Silver with me on all dives, but we mixed in a bunch of Hero 3+ cameras in various housings. I discovered that in the caves a magenta filter gets much better results than no filter at all. The team of divers were highly skilled and somehow there seemed to be a great sense of visual awareness among all of them. Lighting, all of a sudden, was spectacular, with all kinds of interesting light placements happening on the fly.

Doing all this in an underwater cave environment would seem daunting and dangerous to the uninitiated, but it all falls together when you have the right people on the job. I'm about to start editing the video, which promises to have some unique shots in it.

Popping up to chat
 If you are considering learning to cave dive, you should go to Frank Guttierez at Blue Life
Air share drill
Watch Part 1 of the video

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Jan 19, 2015

GoPro Workshops at Beneath the Sea and Boston Sea Rovers 2015

Hi everyone, The eBook is out on iTunes as many of you know:

It's selling well which I'm relieved about as I spent months on it.

 I'll be giving GoPro workshops at Boston Sea Rovers and at Beneath the Sea.

Pete Bucknell wrote the GoPro course for PADI with the mission to teach divers how to get sparkling footage, well framed and planned, steady and colorful. This workshop covers topics including GoPro settings for underwater, techniques for achieving a super-steady shot, mount options, the use of lights and filters, accessories that make sense for diving, and Pete’s priorities for safety while shooting underwater. 
Boston Sea Rovers
Sat March 7th, 2pm - 5pm
Email Pete to reserve your spot:

Beneath the Sea:
($75 includes entry to BTS)
Sat March 28th from 9am-noon (workshop 8)
Sun March 29th from 1pm-4pm  (workshop 17)

Jan 7, 2015

Should You Become a Scuba Diver ?

Imagine the thrill of being weightless, breathing normally under the surface of the blue ocean, eye to eye with all manner of creatures. This is scuba diving and almost anyone can do it.
Discover Scuba
Before making the leap into a certification program, try a “discover scuba” experience. You’ll soon know if diving is for you. Minimum age is ten in most places, and there is a health waiver which is for your own safety. If you are unsure about elements of your health such as your heart, asthma or ear problems you should ask your doctor for advice. My little sister is a champion swimmer who runs long distances, but her asthma says ‘no’ to diving and so does her Doctor.
Discover Scuba introduces humans to breathing underwater with a mask, fins and a tank on. An instructor will go over some safety drills and teach you how to get water out of your mask by blowing air out your nose. In shallow water, the instructor will observe your reaction to the scuba equipment and make sure that you are comfortable. You’ll be instructed ‘never to hold your breath’ and to ‘breath normally’. Most people take to it immediately, but during this first immersion a small percentage of punters will feel panicky. If you feel this way, a good instructor should heal your distress and you could move on to be an avid diver. My advice is to stick with it. Find that special teacher who can nurture anyone through their certification.
Twenty years ago while on tour with an orchestra in Israel (I play the viola!) I did the ‘discover scuba’ thing with a couple of buddies and we had a ball. We even paid a videographer to film us and I still watch the video from time to time.
At the end of this experience, which usually happens while on vacation somewhere warm, you will likely have an irrepressible smile. Time to think about some commitment. At this stage, I had no money, no time and had a university degree to finish, so my next dive was another ‘discover scuba’ eight years later on the Great Barrier Reef.
Open Water Certification
A course spans several days and 4-5 dives depending on the organization. Diving becomes more serious at this point as you begin to learn some of the physics involved in breathing gas at depth, and the safety issues are covered. I was certified in Israel, and the instructor would lapse from English into Hebrew until my raised hand would bring him back, but because he was a bit scary I would often let him continue at length before meekly requesting English. I wonder what I missed….
Ask for advice before choosing where you’ll do your course. Basic training should be thorough, and some operations and instructors will push you through without really ‘teaching’ you which could put your life in danger, especially in the first 30 dives after certification. I’ve filmed classes for some excellent instructors who answered all manner of questions, showed up-to-date power point presentations and films and really ‘taught’ their students. Good instructors are out there.
The certification dives are fun and challenging to some. Confined water dives are usually in a pool. Mine were in the ocean which was wonderful, but you don’t really have time to smell the roses while your instructor demonstrates and has you repeat a series of skills. Here’s a video about one of the skills: ‘mask clearing‘.
Once you’ve successfully demonstrated each of the skills and completed the final theoretical exam, you’ll be certified to dive to sixty feet with a guide. Time to have some fun! Here’s a video I shot of a client diving with his recently certified son and a guide in Cozumel Mexico.
My unfortunate story is that after certification I went straight on to the Advanced Open Water Course, but this was rather unsafe, even for a natural diver. Read on…
Advanced Open Water Certification

There’s a lot of diving to do in water shallower than 60 feet. However, my instructor warned me that I’d soon find myself amongst advanced open water divers on dive sites requiring depths up to 130 feet. I jumped prematurely into the course and very soon after advanced certification, with 25 dives under my belt, I found myself running low on air while diving a New York shipwreck in cold water with all rented gear, no computer, a new buddy and a slightly different set of hand signals and gauges. I was not ready for advanced open water diving and should have notched many more shallow dives before progressing to deeper and colder dives. Here’s the page from my logbook. Note the tank pressure at the end…
So… before progressing to the next certification level, do some research and dive in several destinations with abundant shore diving at 60 feet or less, with guides. Places like Bonaire, Eilat, Cozumel and the Bahamas are destinations I amassed many more dives all the while becoming less of a danger to myself and those around me.
The Advanced course usually involves  five or six open water dives (depending on the certification agency), some of which are specialized dives. My electives were a boat dive, a navigation dive, a deep dive to 90 feet and some rescue exercises with some emergencies thrown in. The academic work will reinforce your knowledge and you’ll have a chance to ask all those questions which have come to mind during your new dive career.
After your tanned, good looking instructor shakes your hand and your pride swells, you must go on to make the most of that card that will arrive shortly in the mail.
Go Diving
It’s like an underwater driving license. This is when the adventures really begin. Find a dive club near you, meet some new people and go on some trips. You are a diver now!
Here’s a video I shot during a trip to Cozumel Mexico.

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