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Shooting Video Underwater Is Not as Simple As It Seems

Courtie Cousteau, camera in hand and ready to snorkel!

Before we left for our Western Caribbean cruise I knew I wanted to get a digital waterproof camera. I learned on our other Caribbean cruise (that time to Key West and the Bahamas) that it was a pain to get film developed for disposable waterproof cameras.

After much research and price comparison shopping, I decided on a Kodak PlaySport. Because we were heading to Belize, Honduras and Mexico and the world’s second largest barrier reef, I knew we were planning on doing a lot of snorkeling. I was excited to not only have a camera I could take pictures with underwater, but to also shoot video with.

However, I quickly learned that shooting video underwater was not as easy as it seemed like it would be. The camera people who do it for TV and movies make it look so easy. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t!

Here’s an example of my very first awkward attempt at using my new camera.



A big problem was just getting used to the camera. It was small, easy to hold, and super easy to use, but with any type of electronics there’s always a bit of a learning curve.

Also, even though it had an anti-glare feature, I couldn’t remember how to trigger it. My first trip out, in Belize, I had a hard time seeing the screen and what I was focusing on. I just sort of swung the camera around hoping I was picking it all up.

Later, when we were back on the ship and I had a chance to review the video, I realized all that swinging around led to a very disturbing effect. I rarely get seasick, but watching the video I took started triggering the feeling.

I was determined to try and smooth out my shots on the next snorkeling excursion. Little did I know I’d experience a new set of problems.

Here’s an example of the video I captured in Belize. (The funniest part is at the very end. Looks like I’m capsizing trying to resurface!)



Our second snorkeling excursion was in Roatan, Honduras. Right as our ship was pulling into dock it started pouring. The skies cleared up right before we boarded the catamaran and headed out to the reef.

Our guide warned us that because of the rains the water visibility was diminished. Because it was partly overcast that helped me see the screen better, however the current was strong. Even if I just floated I had a heck of a time holding the camera steady. I sort of gave up and just tried to do the best I could.

Here’s an example of some video I got of snorkeling in Roatan. (My favorite part is about the 4:10 mark. I was at the edge of the reef where it disappeared into deeper water and I saw an amazing school of fish.)


Our third snorkeling excursion found us at Chankanaab National Park in Cozumel. I felt the third time was going to be the charm and I’d certainly get amazing video this time out.

Well, I did do better. However, I had to get used to the super friendly fish natives swimming in Chankanaab’s waters. I’ve never seen such curious fish. Many had no trouble swimming right up to us. In fact, they seemed like they were trying to get their pictures taken. It was a little odd to be kicking along and then looking up and staring right in a fish’s face that I didn’t know was there looking at me.

But, the upside of these friendly fish was I got some of the best fish shots of the trip! (I was amazed by the clump of fish I caught just floating together near the ocean floor. I’ve never seen anything like that.)

The thing that really sucks is who knows when I’ll get to put my underwater camera shooting skills to the test again. It could be a while, which means I’ll have to reacquaint myself with the tricks I learned this trip. I’m convinced getting better is all about practice. I guess there’s always the bathtub…

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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6 thoughts on “Shooting Video Underwater Is Not as Simple As It Seems

  1. Thanks for the comments, girls!

    Julie, what a very fun way to look at it. (Letting your snorkel without getting wet, Cute!)

    Jessica, I think it’s SO freaking neat you know how to scuba! I’m too chicken to try it. Love to snorkel but have a fear I’d feel claustrophobic snorkeling…I know, that makes no sense, does it, but that’s the fear I get when I think of trying it.

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