Scuba Diving Videos

Video: Amazing Macro Critters

Backscatter pro client Dustin Adamson shares his macro footage as well tips and shooting techniques in the interview below.

Q: Backscatter is a fan of your macro videos! We love your technique of black backgrounds with amazing macro critters. How did you avoid lighting up distracting elements in the background?

I love black backgrounds with macro shots! So I make a concerted effort to get them. Distracting backgrounds are just that…distracting. If something in the frame doesn’t add to the overall image….then it hurts the image. I avoid this by lighting the subject in specific ways. Isolating the subject using light. However, you can’t get black backgrounds all the time. Ambient light needs to be low, early morning, late afternoon, deep water, and night dives are the best ways to achieve this. Another thing that comes into play is the position of the subject. You need some open water space behind the subject. The more the better. I look for this when I am looking for subjects. This is the luck of the draw. Many times I see a critter that isn’t positioned well that I just have to pass up. If there is something directly in back of it, you aren’t getting a black background. I try not to waste time on subjects where the shot isn’t there. Once you have the ambient light low, and a critter in a good spot, aiming of the lights is all you have left. I wish there was a silver bullet for a lighting position, but it really depends on the position of the subject, as well as background elements. The idea is to aim the light to just touch the subject. If the subject is in a bad position, I will sometimes use spot mode on my video lights to avoid lighting a distracting background. This can be tough to accomplish, especially with moving subjects. It takes practice and a lot of patience.

Q: Your subjects have great texture from the shadows created by expert lighting positions. What light position tips would you share with an inspiring underwater videographer?

There is not one light position that works for all shots. When I first started, that was what I was looking for, but it just doesn’t work that way. Practicing different lighting positions is what helped me. I’d recommend a new videographer to start out with a stable subject like a nudibranch, or Christmas tree worm and light each subject with at least three different angles. Reviewing these results will show how different positions and shadows look on your subjects. In general, start with your lights positioned about 6-12 inches higher than your camera lens and almost above your subject. Watch the edge of of your light and tilt your light heads until only your subject is illuminated. Watch the shadows change as you move your lights around. Also, certain subjects may require different lighting positions due to sensitivity. For example, a nudibranch for the most part can be lit in many different angles. However a Ghost Pipefish is traditionally shy and bothered by light and is best lit from above limiting the light to their eyes. Too much light especially with macro can be a problem. Make sure you don’t overexpose the subject, which can be easy to do with macro subjects.  

Q: Please let us know more about your gear. What makes up your primary camera system?

My current setup is as follows:
Camera – Canon 5d MarkII
Underwater Housing – Ikelite Housing for Canon 5DMarkII
Macro Lenses – Canon 100mm Macro 2.8L, Canon 16-35mm F4L
Wide Angle Lenses – Canon 15mm 2.8 fisheye, Canon 8-15mm F4 fisheye
Lighting – Light & Motion Sola 4000’s, Light & Motion Sola 2100

Q: Capturing images like yours require an enormous amount of patience and knowledge of the subjects. What are your tips on safely approaching animals and setting yourself up for the best shot angle?

First of all you have to find the subjects. And while I am getting better at this, I still rely heavily on local guides. They are amazing and rarely disappoint. Going with a dive operation that caters to photographers is also key. They know what photographers want and how they like to dive. They help find the shots you are looking for. They understand when you stay with a subject for the entire dive, while a regular dive operation you may feel pressured to keep up with a group. Once a subject is located, I stop and assess the situation. Often times my wife, Tyra, is photographing the subject, so I get to really think about how I am going to setup for the shot. At this point, I adjust my tripod legs and lights to the approximate position they need to be. This allows minimal adjustments to minimize the sounds and movements that might scare the subjects once I set the rig down. I also, sometimes shine the light on the subject before I put the tripod down just so the subject gets used to the light. Once down, always try to focus on the eyes. This is what the viewer looks at. And with a DSLR in particular, the shallow depth of field is extremely difficult. Out of focus eyes are a huge turn off for the viewer. One other thing of note. When shooting macro and using a tripod, it is good to go to places that the environment supports it. You don’t want to destroy coral by setting your tripod on it. Places like Lembeh, Anilao, Bali, Milne Bay PNG, are all places that have sand, rubble, muck type of environments which is perfect for macro shooting with a tripod.

Q: All of your images are rock solid. What tips do you have for selecting and using a tripod system?

A good tripod is certainly a must for good macro work. You want a tripod base that is wide. This will give you stability in high current. It is also nice out of the water as a nice base to stabilize your housing on a boat or camera table. I also use the tripod for wide angle for static shots as well as using the legs for a wide handle to help with stability while hand holding. I use the Xit404 Tripod Plate for Ikelite as well as the XIT404 Twist Clamp Leg. The twist clamp legs save so much time, and allow for quick and easy adjustments. While a tripod is important so are other factors that you might not think of. Once you have your camera in place, and have hit record, back your face away from the back of the housing. Your exhales can shake the housing, and have minor shaking in your footage. Also, I have found arms such as ULCS Ultralight arms to be better than Flexarm or Locline arms. don’t shake the housing as much as a locline style of arm in current.



Dustin Adamson

Dustin Adamson is a multi-international award winning underwater cinematographer. He was certified to scuba dive back in 1996. Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is completely self taught, and has been filming since 2011. In 2002, he married his wife Tyra Adamson, an accomplished underwater photographer in her own right. They both own and operate His favorite underwater subjects to film are of the small variety. However, he still enjoys filming all underwater creatures. Having traveled all over the world, he is always searching for the perfect shot. In 2015, Dustin had the honor of being invited to be a member of the Ocean Artists Society.

To learn more about Dustin, please see and

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OWUSS and Rolex Offer 2016 Scholarships to Future Dive Leaders

From dry suit diving in the brisk waters off California’s Catalina Island to gearing up in chain mail for a shark feed in the Bahamas, the life of a Rolex/Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Scholar is a yearlong underwater thrill ride. Current North American Rolex Scholar Michele Felberg shares an exciting experience on her blog from earlier this summer: “I was grinning from ear to ear like a goof, so energized,” she said, describing her feelings as she donned a chain-mail suit to walk fin-less along the sandy bottom at Shark Junction in the Bahamas, first just observing, then interacting and feeding Caribbean reef sharks.

“There is no question about it — the scholarship has opened the door to so many opportunities to visit places and work with people I’d never otherwise get to meet,” says Michele, who is just six months into her scholarship year.

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society provides experiences for scholars to not only learn more about marine environments but also the local cultures that rely on them. Earlier in the year, Michele visited the Dominican Republic with a team from Indiana University to conduct surveys and maintenance on several previously established shipwreck sites. It was in the Dominican Republic where she realized the adverse affects of humans on our underwater world. It’s important “to convince local communities that there is more value in the long-term preservation of the marine environment than the short-term depletion of those resources,” Michele says.

North American OWUSS Scholar Michele Felberg assisting with surveys and maintenance on several previously established shipwreck sites in the Dominican Republic.

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and Rolex have been working together for over 40 years on a shared mission: to identify and develop the next generation of dive leaders and underwater researchers. Over the last four decades, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and Rolex have fostered the development of future leaders of the underwater environment like Michele. Today they are seeking applicants for the 2016 Scholarships. Currently, three Rolex Scholarships are awarded, to applicants in North America, Europe and Australasia. During the scholarship year, the three winners have the opportunity to travel internationally and learn from the world’s leading experts in conservation, underwater photography, maritime archaeology, marine engineering and other related fields.

If you or somebody you know are between the ages of 21 and 26, have high academic standing and have achieved Rescue Diver or equivalent certification, continue reading at to learn why being the next Rolex Scholar is a life-changing experience. Application deadlines for the 2016 Scholarship year are as follows: North American and European applications are due December 31, 2015. Deadline for 2016 Australasian Scholarship application is January 31, 2016. The organization also offers numerous internships, which can be viewed here. Application deadline for internships is January 31, 2016.

Keep up with Michele’s travels as the North American Rolex Scholar on her blog.

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The Legacy of Jaws and America’s Fascination with Sharks

The movie Jaws led many viewers to stay away from beaches when it was released in 1975, and has been widely criticized for promoting negative stereotypes about sharks and their behavior. Peter Benchley eventually regretted writing the book, and in 1995 said: “The extensive new knowledge of sharks would make it impossible for me to create, in good conscience, a villain of the magnitude and malignity of the original. … If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect these wonderful animals before we manage, through ignorance, stupidity and greed, to wipe them out altogether.”

Video of jaws clip: "You're going to need a bigger boat"

Conservationists hate that the film has made it difficult to convince the public that sharks need protection from humans, not the other way around. But Jaws launched the summer-blockbuster genre, and Roy Scheider’s line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” is 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes, and composer John Williams’ musical theme is instantly recognizable (dun-dunh, dun-dunh).

Video of Jaws soundtrack

Hooked on Sharks for better or for worse, the media’s love affair with sharks has kept us entertained for decades.

Looking for more Sharks in pop-culture? Check out Top 5 Worst Shark Movies of All Time.

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“Doc Deep” Prepares to Break the World Record for Deepest Scuba Dive

Video of Dr. Guy Garman Prepares For World Record Deep Scuba Dive

The record for the world’s deepest scuba dive could be broken this weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On August 15th, 2015, Dr. Guy Garman — also known as “Doc Deep” — will attempt to set the new world record for deepest scuba dive, and plunge to a depth of 1,200 feet off the coast of St. Croix.

According to video details, Dr. Garman has nearly 600 dives and has been training for the last 2 years to accomplish the goal. His deepest dive-to-date was to 810 feet on April 18, 2015. His attempt this coming weekend will be supported by the Scuba Tec dive team, a division of St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures in St. Croix.

The current world record was set on September 18, 2014, when Ahmed Gabr successfully dove to 1,090 feet off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea.

Video credit by MJSVisionsVI

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The Solomon Islands shot in UltraHD 4K Video

Video of 4K UltraHD underwater nature video stock footage Demo Reel UHD "Undersea Realm in 4K"

Located off the Northwest coast of Australia, the Solomon Islands are a scuba diver’s dream. With nearly 1000 islands spread across 1000 miles, there is no shortage of amazing diving that includes some of the best coral reefs and WWII shipwrecks in the world.

Josh Jensen and his team at Undersea Productions put together this demo reel showing us exactly what we can expect to see in this underwater paradise — Manta rays, anemonefish, barracudas, sponges, fire coral and more. It also includes a quick glimpse at the vertical Taiyo Shipwreck, which rests vertically on the edge of the reef after a botched salvage attempt. All shot in stunning 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution.

For more information on this demo reel, including a shot list of what’s in the reel video and the equipment used to film it, visit Undersea Productions.

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