The three P's:

• Patience in preparing camera and diving equipment,

• Patience in your approach,

• Patience in waiting for peak of the action.

You have selected your subject and positioned the flash. You approach and the subject disappears into a hole! Typical! At this point you need to consider patience. How long do you wait until the subject reappears?

You are diving an excellent macro photo site. Colourful whip corals are growing from the seabed. You find a number of blennies moving up and down the branches. You frame one in your viewfinder, but it moves out of shot. There's another and another!

But after a couple of seconds they move again. You need to be patient in these circumstances, but how long for? How long do you persist?

A colourful Mantis shrimp disappears into its home in the sand. You have a couple of shots in the bag and they look OK in the LCD, but you feel the composition could be improved. How long should you wait?

In these scenarios, you have a conscious decision to make regarding the amount of time you are prepared to spend in your efforts to take the photograph. Ask yourself, whilst you are underwater, at the time:

Does the potential of this shot justify the patience and time required to stick around?

Only the photographer can make this decision but remember, you have to consider this at the time, underwater! It's no use when you're back on the boat, heading off to another dive site.

Patience is essential within the TC system, not only for shooting marine life but also when you relate it to other features — such as potential, subject selection and peak of the action. Now is the time for you to retrace a mental path through the features oftheTC system and consider the potential of the opportunity.

Have you already taken shots like this, or is it a one-off, excellent opportunity?

The TC structure is a means of prompting you to think and consider various options underwater. Once TC is habitual, passing over an opportunity will no longer be because of forgetfulness or the 'I never gave it a thought' attitude.

In life, we make hundreds of instant decisions every day. The TC system is no different.

fig. 5.29 I shot this Mantis shrimp from a shore dive adjacent to Scuba Seraya, Tulamben, Bali. It was so inquisitive and continually popped out of hiding every two or three minutes. Directly behind it was its shelter. When it emerged at a certain angle I was able to light the mantis without a cluttered and distracting background. I captured it once so I knew my idea would work but the composition was flawed. So, how long was I prepared to lie on the sand, eye glued to the viewfinder to wait — not just for the Mantis to emerge but to emerge at a certain angle to capture a plain uncluttered background? Patience was required so I considered:

• Any other subject in the vicinity, that would be worth shooting instead? Answer — 'Not at all'

• How long was I prepared to spend on the intricacies of this particular Mantis? I checked my air, depth and buddy and knew I had at least 30 minutes.

I settled down for as long as it would take and in the end was rewarded with the Mantis emerging at an ideal angle. I pressed the shutter and knew I had the shot in the bag. It was just a matter of patience, nothing technically challenging other than investing time and tolerance.

Nikon D200, Nikon 105 mm macro lens, f16 at 1/250th sec, ISO 100, one Inon flashgun, the other turned off to avoid too much of the background being illuminated.

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