If there is deep water and it is not a reservation or a port, you can probably dive there. There are so many places on Earth where you can dive, that it can be really hard to choose one. Or at least that is the case for the most common and popular dive spots around the globe.
But there are those daredevils, that seek to go to places never heard of or that are so challenging to reach, where most of the divers end up not going just because it is too complicated to dive or too far away. Some of these people are the cave divers, especially the ones that go for the unknown.
One of those divers is Christine Grosart and the following article she wrote, shows exactly why divers fall in love with the Paralenz Dive Camera.
Meet the diver
There was a time when caves, for a time, remained the domain of those explorers who discovered them. In order to see these underground wonders – these new discoveries – you would have to get into your caving gear and possibly even your cave diving gear to go there and see them for yourself.
Cave photography is one of the hardest mediums to master. Caves are dark. This might seem to be stating obvious but when I take novice cavers underground for the first time, it never really hits home how dark until we sit quietly with our lights off, listening to the strange gurgling of the water and the drips from the stalictites. They are pitch black. The only way to see is to import your own torches and the only way to photograph them is to import your lights, flash-guns or strobes. With no natural light, cave photography and videography becomes all about the light.
I’m a cave diver and a cave explorer, obsessed with going to places underground that no human being has ever been. There is ‘More people have been to the Moon’ territory and there is ‘Nobody has ever been here before’ territory. The latter is why I cave dive.
Cave diving and exploration in Croatia
For the last four years, I have been exploring a cave in Croatia called Izvor Licanke. The end of the exploration line from 1998 lay at 36m depth some 140m into the second sump. The first sump, accessed from daylight, is short and shallow and there followed some sharp, bouldery caving and swimming through lakes as well. The caving was varied but awkward to carry diving bottles. Nevertheless, I brought together a team and over four years we extended the second sump to a distance of 524m and a maximum depth of 50m – all in 6-degree water.
It was my ambition for the outset to document our discoveries. It isn’t enough these days it seems to just explore some place unknown to man and draw a sketch or survey. Now, cameras are the evidence of new discoveries and to tell the story or even resurrect an interest in exploration from tourist cave divers, you now have to produce a video. Not just any old video, but production quality video.
Paralenz for cave diving
We came across Paralenz through our Ghost Fishing exploits and thanks to their support, wound up with a couple of cameras. Filming our underwater exploits in Licanke was tricky. Our previous action camera was poor in low light and when helmet mounted, produced 2 hours of grainy footage of my bubbles and the cave roof. Not much good.
We had a DSLR set up which was the size of a small pony and required it’s own giant case to transport and protect it. None of the team showed any interest in manhandling it through the dry cave passages. There was a huge risk of scratching the dome port and besides, it was only rated to 60m. Not much good for a cave that threatened to go beyond 50m. I had my favorite ‘go to’ point and shoot but again, with a rating of 40m it just got clipped off to the line in the known cave passage.
Then we took a look at the Paralenz. Depth was clearly a non-issue and it was super small and light, so transporting it was equally a non-issue. It shot in high definition and had good battery life. I was slightly nervous about the lack of live view but figured if I mounted it on a tray with video lights and paid attention to what I was doing, I could finally get some usable shots.
What was more impressive was the ease of use. Teaching another team member, Ash Hiscock, who is a self-proclaimed ‘non-photographer’ to shoot some video was actually very easy and he managed some production quality shots of myself and Richard Walker setting off on our exploration dive.
Underwater footage was the one missing piece of the jigsaw for my ambition of making a short film about the exploration of Licanke. My goal was to produce the film for a film festival and the premiere will be shown at the Kendal Mountain Festival on Friday 16th November 2018 in the Petzl Underground session, alongside Thai Cave Rescue diver Jason Mallinson.
Thanks to the photographer, Mark Burkey, and to the Paralenz cameras, the footage came to fruition and the camera will be joining us on next years expedition to shoot yet more exploration footage so you can see uncharted territory too from the comfort of your home.
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