Gettin' Down Seeing & HEARING
Below the Surface By Capt. John King 11/13/2012
Meat Head Test
Spring King Salmon
The Behind the Scenes Reel Story
I was born with a
lifelong case of tunnel vision. Tunnel vision eliminates all the
reasons not to do something. Tunnel vision eliminates the need to
stay in a comfort zone and work towards a reachable goal. Guess
another good thing that comes with a narrow focus is that it lessens
doubt. Doubt is one of the big 3. That being: fear,
worry, & doubt that only cloud the issues that have no
bearing on the outcome. Besides, it's in our DNA to explore, see new places, do new things,
accept new challenges, and always look over the next horizon. This
pretty much describes my journey into the realm of video, because going
in, ...like usual ...I didn't have a clue!
Got hooked on underwater videography the first time I stuck my eBay
cheapie Extreme Cam in the drink in April of 2012. Seeing, yes ...actually
seeing what was going on down below to me was a revelation. An
awakening of the long held hidden dream of seeing the same way fish see
things (fish-POV) might become a reel-reality!
All underwater sport cameras
we can afford were designed for shooting videos above water. Acton
cams use regular
lighting and do a phenomenal job in the battle of cost vs. quality.
Forget the well-lit beautiful full-color video scenes we see normally.
That just ain't gonna happen in the nutrient rich Great Lakes waters when you're shooting video footage at deeper depths.
In truth, I'm a dumber than a stump newbie to video. Above and below
water, but know what I want to see. Only shot video at depths from
30' to 150' down twice late in the 2012 season. Touching on this has
me a long list of fun to-dos in the 2013 season. Reel-facts say
there were a lot more video questions presented ...than answers. It
will be my pleasure attempting these video-audio questions in the future!
Rigger Cam Horizon
Lk. MI 30' down
Hitting the Bottom
Task at Hand
Technology is on a constant forced march towards the future. Advancements
in video has led from bulky shoulder mounted camcorders to cameras that
now fit in the palm of your hand. Cost is very reasonable. $200
to $250 will buy either a Go Pro Hero, or a Contour camcorder. Both
cameras have their good points. Contour is fully water proof to 1
meter without a case. GoPro is not. Go Pros have a leg up
with a replaceable battery, but are only waterproof inside their protective
case. Audio value is superb in the Contour Roam. Even inside the
waterproof housing, the Contour captured the surprisingly annoying rigger wire hum
along the noise of my 15 hp kicker 4 stroke motor at depths of 100'
to 150' down. Kickers (trolling motors) might be quiet on top, but downstairs?
...it's a piercing sound machine like a rattle trap junker car with
a hole in the muffler riding on rims.
Sport camcorders are made to capture events with no muss
and no fuss, but this comes with a loss of features. The ability to
zoom to better frame your subject matter will not happen with either a
GoPro, or Contour. Field of view is extremely wide beginning at 170
Close-ups are very fisheyed with distortion from the center
of the frame outwards. After about 5'-6' this skewed view
becomes less noticeable.
Eternal Quest for the Magic Bullet
Going into the realm of the rarely seen appears to be a
mystery that needs the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes
to unlock. Sure, topside we get to catch fish. But what's going on
down below? This is our unseen handicap. Piecing together what
might work and what does work is strictly all trial and error. My overt
fascination with underwater cameras stems from my quest for the magic
bullet in color selections. Seeing things from a fisheye point of
view might/could go a long ways solving the right color mystery.
That being ...the amount of available light, as a full season runs it's course
depending on water clarity.
If you're like most of us, your time on the water is at
a premium. Wasting time with colors that do not provide outstanding
visibility is a reel-waste of time. While fish feed with other
factors such as sound and scent, having a lure with a definable standout
profile is where the reel-bonus comes in. First couple of underwater
test session's footage
says the outline of black is the easiest for the camera to see. Keeping in
mind, black would be the easiest color for the camera to capture. Meaning? ...what the
camera sees best, but not necessarily apply to Mr. Fish. It would be some where's dead-wrong
and plain stupid
to apply camera vision to the highly evolved visual acuity all fish
are born with.
My You Tube
Rigger Cam Video Taken 10/1/12
To view best: click start, then remove mouse pointer to off to the side
of the page for full screen
Something I long suspected is the dive rate of my line
of 12" flashers. Underwater camera confirmed my 12 inchers will dive down below the trolled path of the
cannonball. How much free depth is gained? From what I could
see, it looks like around foot for ever 10' of lead length, drop-back, or
distance from the ball. Hence, on a 30' lead off the cannonball, the
flasher will dig 3' more. It stands to reason having the attractor and
meat rig/fly down below the slipstream i.e. disturbed water has to be a
Tighter closer to the ball, faster the action is a
lesson I relearned after reviewing the video late season footage of my 12
inch flashers at depth. Proper trolling speed that gives a lazy
action that still entices a fish to the dinner bell is like being between
a rock and a hard place. Most of my fishing efforts tend to focus on
the later morning to mid-day fish that present more of a challenge.
Hungry, banzai dummy fish at first & last light? ...the need for precise
speed control is not that critical. Just remember to control your
trolling speed. Not your speed controlling you!
Noise Signature of Your Vessel
Rigger hum and the racket of my
15 hp. 4 stroke kicker motor is intense at depths to 70'. There's
far more underwater noise telegraphed down below than I could have imagined. Standard
downrigger cable was used in my late (Sept-Oct) test sessions with the
Contour underwater edition. Even inside of a heavy duty plastic
housing ...the annoying hum-squeal of the cables was extremely noticeable. This is
a bunch better explained by watching the above video that is a must see companion
of this article to gain more understanding.
Downrigger cables telegraph
a huge volumes of noise. This fact was proven when I ran out too much rigger
cable and the weight laid on the bottom momentarily ...then all went quiet.
Under no tension, or slack in the cable, silence was achieved. Once
the weight was pulled off the bottom the din of the obnoxious cable howl
and the low drum-hum sound of the kicker was back in full force.
While kicker motors are fairly quiet above water. Motor
and prop harmonics are being transferred down ...into the water. So, cheese the
idea Salmon and Trout are easily spooked creatures not interested in
biting, or ready to shy off from any sounds not deemed natural to their
environment. Far to the contrary, Great Lakes cold water species are
willing to feed aggressively, at all times of the day. How else can you
explain a King/Chinook Salmon going from a egg (about the size of a pea)
to a full blown adult, possibly over 30 pounds if there's enough forage
around ...to fuel a 5 to 6 pound a year growth rate?
Rigger Cam Limitation Lessons
Please do not overestimate
waterproof downrigger camcorders. These little marvels can fit in your palm were made
to work above water. Where there's plenty of light. Full HD frame
rates are 30 frames per second. This is a 5 frame increase over the
standard 25 frames per second with the older style standard TV. So, there's
just not enough time to provide more exposure duration the camera needs ....being limited to
1/30 of a second to make moving pictures/video footage in an
environment that fades to black around 100'. Amount of light at
depth is going to be highly dependent on the angle of the sun, plankton in the water, sediment
or, turbidity caused from wave action. So, the amount of available
light will be over a wide variance during the course of an entire season.
Anything deeper than 80' to
100' all the Contour Roam saw was the black abyss between distant galaxies,
minus any light whatsoever. Range on how far back submerged
camcorders that offer up a halfway decent image is going to depend on the
time of the season that has a lot to do with plankton growth. Warmer
fall waters when my tests began loaded with plankton. This was
driven by one warmest summer on record during 2012. Possibly, the
warmest overall since record keeping began.
My brief venture into
the word of underwater video in 2012 only laid the ground work for
further explorations in the future. In my mind, there's more questions then answers using a rigger cam only twice. I'm
looking forward to the fun bringing you the best info on the web.
My skills at post video production are on the rise. It's fun
turning out reel movies!
Bright vs. Cloudy?
Videoed flashers on a sunny
flat calm day around the end of September, then about week later on
October 1, 2012 with clouds and light seas running at no more than a 1'. Surprising enough, the day I shot video
when it was cloudy without a ripple on the water seemed to provide more light downstairs. Don't take this
to the bank just yet, cuz with only 2 hours of filming at depth any firm rules written
in stone is a long ways off. Did notice black flashers provided the
best visible profile to the camcorder. Keep in mind, black is the
darkest color for the camera lens to discern the fast exposure
rate at, or less 1/30 of a second.
There's a steep learning curve filming above and below
water due to the reel-fact the light is so vastly different. So, this article will be revised as
time goes along. Let's never forget what we see, or the camera sees
is not what a fish sees Why? ...evolution has fine-tuned fish
vision with a very complex eye that is made to see underwater, cuz that's
where they live. It's a major mistake for us to impose what we see
on Mr. Fish.
Goals for the Future?
Action cameras such as GoPro
and Contour are multi purpose and not just for making underwater video.
It's a waste not to use action cams topside and record your entire fishing
trip. 15 minutes at 1080i is about 1 gig, so a 32 gig micro SD card is
capable of recording 8 hours in a stretch depending on battery life, or
how often you feel like swapping in fresh batteries.
My deal with underwater filming
is not to go, "oh, goodie, look at that fish hit the tackle I make!!"
Then, use it as strictly a promotional tool to hawk tackle. To me?
...these little action cams just might help explain part of the mystery
once we send stuff down-below. Opening up the formerly hidden abyss
with even the slightest bit of knowledge is a long-long ways from where we
are now. Essentially, we're groping along blindfolded, trapped by
trial and error that just wastes huge sections of time. With high price of fuel nowadays
turning our time on the water into an exercise in futility is something
none of us can afford!
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