Dec 23, 2012 - Diving Therapy

Photo of the Week
Sand Tiger Shark atop the superstructure of the USCG Cutter Spar.

A Few Words First
     SCUBA Diving, as a form of therapy, has been a frequent theme in my Dive Blog Reports in the past and even as recently as the previous issue from Dec 15, 2011.  For years I have benefitted from diving's healing properties when it has help me cope with adverse times in my life. With the war in Iraq now officially ended and the men and women returning from over seas, I wanted to take a moment to touch on this theme again in this issue.  It could be of relevance to some.
       Also, win a free fine art print from my portfolio by simply signing up for Mike's Dive & Photo Newsletter (sign up here).  This newsletter will give you up to date dive industry and marine conservation news plus updates on my presentations and workshops. I will be drawing a name January 15th. The winner can pick out a print of their choice from my web site: The first issue newsletter will be out shortly after the New Year.
     For you photo buffs out there scroll down within this blog and check out the Photo Tip of the Week and pick up the latest dive news from North Carolina and Olympus Dive Center.
     In my next Blog Report I'll be reporting on recent developments in shark fishing tournaments in the US and how these new practices are affecting the sport fishing industry, conservationist movements and scientific research alike.
     Thank's again to everyone who takes the time to view my Dive Blog. I have had a lot of fun writing this and sharing my work with you. 2012 is going to be an even better year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!
Diving Therapy

     Most people who participate in the sport of SCUBA diving will emphatically tell you that  being submerged in the alien, but beautiful underwater world, is both peaceful and euphoric as well as, calming and uplifting. For many, during tough times in their life, it is of all things, an emotionally healing experience. Everyone has their own inspirations for diving. Wether  you are simply having a bad week at work and need an escape, or a veteran seeking a way to over come the physical and emotional scars of war, SCUBA diving has proven to be a highly effective form of therapy for all.
     If there is anyone who is more aware of these healing properties, it would be the men and women from Soldiers Undertaking Disabled SCUBA or SUDS (Please read previous Blog Report on SUDS for more information: July 12, 2011 - SUDS & Subs). Many of these men & women, some who have suffered debilitating amputations and injuries, have discovered the  liberating feeling of weightlessness that diving offers and how it speeds up the healing process by promoting mobility. The success of this form of physical therapy can be easily measured with performance data while the emotional healing may be more difficult to determine, but is as important as any part of the healing process.
    Recently, I had a very insightful discussion on this topic with a Marine Officer and avid SCUBA diver about what diving has done for him since his return from duty. After serving three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) , he solemnly said to me, "SCUBA diving has been the most effective therapy I've found in over two years of medical treatment". "It helped save me". After speaking to him in more detail, I became deeply moved by his passion for diving and the solitude that it offers him. After a while, I began to try to relate his feeling for diving to mine.  After pondering this thought for a few moments, I concluded that I don't think I have ever felt this intense about diving, but I've also never had to deal with the traumatic effects of war.  Do I take for granted what the ocean and diving is? In some ways, maybe. This can be acquainted to a person whose home has a beautiful view of the mountains and has lived in this house their entire life. The first thing a new visitor entering this home will notice is the striking view, while the home owner may simply shrug it off as common. After all, the view has always been there. Can they feel as passionate as the person who just saw it for the first time? I have looked out my window often in the past, but after the conversation with this Marine Officer, I will be looking out it much more.
     Wether you are a wounded warrior or someone who simply is having a bad day, SCUBA diving  can be a effective form of therapy. It can offer tranquility and the opportunity to forget. The fact that we are merely visitors in the watery world and cannot stay long, is an added incentive to return again and again. If you are a diver and reading this you can already relate to what I'm saying. If you're not, and are looking for a needed diversion from life, then I can strongly recommend becoming a diver. If SCUBA diving is beyond your means there  is more than one way to feel the healing effects of being immersed in water. Visit your local beach, lake or watering hole and try snorkeling or just take a splash and swim around.  If all else eludes you then simply fill up your bath tub up and allow the water to soak in and sooth your skin. It can help cure whatever ails you and put a smile on your face where there was none before.

Enjoy the view. Always!
(The summit of Blackcomb Mt., Whistler/Blackcomb, BC.)

Dive News from NC
     All is quite in the dive world at Olympus Dive Center here in Morehead City. Last week, the 'six pack' charter boat, the Thomas S out of Olympus Dive Center did made it out to the wreck of the Tako which is a small tug only a few miles off Atlantic Beach. Visibility was about 12' and the water temp a chilly 57 degrees, but the wreck was loaded with black sea bass, sheepshead and flounder. A good time was reported by all who went. The dive wimp that I am, I was home with my fireplace running, drinking tea and staring at my camera gear piled in the corner. Woe is me.
      Olympus will be running charters all winter if the demand is there. So give them a call at 252-726-9432 to check on the schedule or sign up for a dive in the 2012 peak season starting in May.

Photo Tip of the Week
     Many of you photographers who are new to the hobby may be wondering what that funny looking line graph is on your camera's LCD that accompanies each photo. Some of you may know what it is, but choose to ignore it because it looks too complicated. I say this confidently because I was one of those people who chose to ignore it when I first started shooting. I can now tell you  now earnestly that you are making a mistake by paying it no mind. This funny looking graph is called a Histogram. In actuality, it is a very simple representation of the exposure of your image. When you can learn to read a histogram properly you can ascertain wether or not the image is too dark, too light or in between.  The y-axis or vertical axis represents the number of pixels. The x-axis or horizontal axis represents the tone from shadows of the left to highlights on the right. Usually histograms are set up where the left side of the x axis is the shadow while the right side is the highlights but this depends on the camera.

     The histogram that is shaped like a bell curve,  where neither the left or the right side of the graph runs off the side and the mid-tones dominate the image, represents a properly exposed image. (See item a.) If the graph runs off the side to the left in the shadows, this is an indication that the photo was under exposed, thus loosing the details in the shadows. (See item b.) If the graph runs off the page to the right this in turn indicates an over exposed image where there is loss of highlights or burning. (See item c.) This clipping, as it is called, is undesirable with most subjects and can easily be compensated for by adjusting your exposure settings such as f-stop or shutter speed (see last weeks Photo Tips). Ascertaining what your image looks like by merely inspecting the LCD is not sufficient. LCD's can be misleading depending on how bright or dim your viewing light or ambient light is. Histograms, however, never lie!

Item a. Proper Exposed: note minimum clipping.

Item b. Under Exposed: note clipping on left.

Item c. Over Exposed: note clipping on right

     Sometimes you may be shooting a subject that is strong in the shadows and lacking any highlights. Your Histogram will look like this:

     Sometimes you may be shooting a subject that has strong highlights and lacks shadows. Your Histogram will look like this:

     Are you starting to see the correlation? Once you do, analyzing your shots while on the fly will be a cinch and save you a lot of time and effort on poorly exposed images.  Have faith in this little graph. There is a plethora of information within in it.  Good luck!

Note: The top photo is a Pink Anemone Fish and Magnificent Sea Anemone taken in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. The middle image is a sink and mirror taken on the Heian Maru, Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. The bottom image is the ship builders stamp, Toyo Toki Kaisha, taken from the side of a porcelain sink from the wreck of the Hanakawa Maru in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. To view more of Mike's images from Truk Lagoon visit here.

 If you would like to learn more please sign up for one of my online photo lessons. Each session is private and can be done from the convenience of your home with the use of a web cam and microphone. Visit to learn more or contact

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Anonymous said...

nice idea..thanks for sharing....

Mike Gerken said...

Your welcome!

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