Here's How - Stephen Weir multi-story feature, published April 2009


Snorkeling is a gentle sport that is safe, fun and healthy. Unlike scuba diving, one doesn’t need a course before getting wet. Snorkeling leaves no carbon footprint, doesn’t harm the underwater environment and requires little gear beyond a mask, a set of fins, and of course the snorkel. Depending on where you are, a wet suit and a weight belt (to neutralize the buoyancy of the suit) should be worn.
While there are advantages to taking pictures underwater using scuba gear (you can stay up to 90 minutes underwater to get a good photograph and you can go deep to take pictures), there are many photographers and videographers who prefer snorkeling and free diving.

Interested in snorkeling? Consider the following:

1. Only David Blaine can stay underwater for more than 15-minutes (and we aren’t sure he didn’t have a secret supply of air). Some free divers can stay underwater for 10-minutes (and reach incrediable depths) the rest of us mortals can only stay underwater for about 1 minute. So snap that shutter fast.
2. Size, when it comes to flippers, matter. The size and shape of a flipper effects how deep you can swim on a breath of air and how much strain you put on your leg muscles. Serious free diving and snorkeling photographers shouldn’t buy their gear their Canadian Tire.
3. Weight. Humans are inherently buoyant. When you are propelling yourself underwater, the force of kicking keeps you below the surface. Stop to take a picture, and you will pop back to the surface, usually before a good photograph is had. Professionals wear weight belts and a kilo of lead to fight the bob.
4. Tube talk. The size and design of the snorkel determines how much fresh air can be easily drawn into the lungs. Skinny little snorkels make breathing difficult.
5. Ouch. Snorkelers swim through the water facing downwards looking for good shots. That leaves the back, neck, legs and heels exposed to the sun. The water cools the heat but not the damage of the sun’s rays leading to painful snorkel burns. Make waterproof sunscreen part of your kit even in Canadian waters.


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