Cavern Diving at Cenote Chac Mool

Jun 20, 2008

We decided to play hooky yesterday afternoon late in order for Hans to do a rebreather checkout dive in preparation for this weekend. Assuming that the Americans will lose the Saturday games in the Mundialito, Hans made plans for Sunday to go assist with a Free Diving competition as "deep support" so he'll have to be under the water in case any of the free divers pass out. If one passes out under water he will attach a lift bag to them and send them up so surface support people can work on them.

He hadn't dove using his rebreather in quite a long time. The rebreather recycles his exhaled air by running it through a chemical "scrubber" that removed the CO2 and then returns the breathable air to the loop with a little added oxygen (or something like that, don't quote me on it). The problem with them is that they're large, and if you're into cave diving they are quite often the wrong tool for the job when you want to get into small spaces.

Anyway, we went so Hans could practice his buoyancy, since it's a totally different process than diving regular scuba set up (or open circuit). I went along to practice my underwater photography skills, which are currently undeveloped, because I'd like to take photos of Hans and Patrick assisting this weekend.

So we headed to Cenote Chac Mool. It's just a little ways South of the entrance to Puerto Adventuras and is actually a set of three cenotes. There's a nice cavern line there and we didn't want to complicate things by taking all this extra equipment on an actual cave dive, so Chac Mool it was.

There's lots of algae growing on top of the water, which is different from your usual crystal blue cenote, but makes for some pretty cool pictures. You might have to click on the picture to see the swirly patterns on the surface of the water.

Because we were already sort of "task loaded" (had too many pieces of equipment) we decided not to bring the ginormous flashes that stick out from the side of the camera. As you can see, more light would have been nice, but we got some cool silhouette photos.

I like how these have a sort of other worldly quality- like space or something. The light was pretty cool, too.

Please note that if you are open water scuba trained, you can hire a cave guide to take you on a cavern tour. Make sure that you are properly trained before you even think about entering an overhead diving situation. Also- I'm no expert and I'm not saying it's ok for you to do this, so don't sue me if something happens to you and other legal, covering my butt for posting these pics, stuff.


CancunCanuck said...

Wow, gorgeous photos! As much as I think I would like to try this, I believe I would get pretty claustrophobic. So, thanks for the pics, I will live vicariously through you!

Mamacita Chilena said...

What camera do you use for underwater photography?

do you have an underwater kit for one of the Canon or Nikon DSLR's or do you have a special underwater camera?

mexpat said...

It's a Canon 20D with a 10-22mm wide angle lens and an Ikelite underwater housing with a dome port. We also have a flash that extends on an arm away from the camera, but we didn't use it for this experiment.

Mamacita Chilena said...

damn! you have a nicer camera than I do!!!

well, not for long, my mom is bringing my new big girl camera that I bought down for me tomorrow!!!!

If you want, and only if you want, I can tell how to shoot so that all your underwater photos won't be silhouettes...although they are pretty that way... :)

Or maybe you already know the secret. Do you shoot in raw format?

Fned said...

Those are really beautiful pics mexpat! It looks like Hans is all alone inside those caves... it's all so.... ethereal.


mexpat said...

Mamacita- You can tell me, but I have to warn you, it's all hubby's gear. He's the photog in our relationship. I'm more of a point-n-shoot type of gal! Although I was having fun experimenting.

Fned- thanks! Yeah- I like the ones on the bottom of the post with the extra ambient light.

heatherinparadise said...

Wow, excellent pics!

mexpat said...

Thanks, Heather!

Mamacita Chilena said...

oh, all I was going to tell you is that if you set the camera to shoot in raw, afterwards its ridiculously easy to adjust the exposure with just a click of a button on Adobe Camera Raw (a free plugin for photoshop), Lightroom, or even Picassa, I think.

No big secret or anything, just a really easy tip that helped me a LOT when I was first trying to learn exposure :)

D.R. Bartlette said...

Your pictures are gorgeous...I am so envious of you. I have always wanted to see the cenotes in the Yucatan. And your beautiful pix make me want to even more.
Only two more years to go (then the kid graduates high school and I'm free!).

mexpat said...

Mamacita- Yeah- raw... hubby sometimes shoots to raw when he's shooting manual. I dunno- I took photography classes in college as part of my major and promptly forgot it all! LOL! I'm horrible with that stuff... still, your pictures are fantastic, so maybe I should try the whole raw thingy and see! Thanks for the tip!

D.R. Bartlette- Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliment! We were just fooling around, you wouldn't believe some of the shots from the professional underwater photogs here... amazing!

Two more years to go! Hubby and I haven't even started the kid venture yet. We figured we would never move to Mexico if we had kids first!