Silent Diving Photography: The Benefits of No Bubbles


Photo by: Aldo Ferrucci

Imagine finding the perfect subject to take pictures of while diving: you get your camera ready, settings are in place, you’re getting closer, and you are ready to capture this ideal image in front of you… then you exhale a mass of bubbles, and the moment quickly vanishes! Your perfect picture disappeared right before your eyes. After the dive, you compare images with a buddy team of rebreather divers, and you find that not only were they able to capture that perfect picture you tried to get, but they also got so much more!

In recent years we have seen a growth of rebreather use among the dive community, particularly with photographers for many reasons like “silent diving.” You might find yourself asking, “What is silent diving, and why is it becoming so popular?”

Rebreather diving, a component to technical diving, has many advantages over using traditional open circuit SCUBA equipment. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on one for photography applications. A rebreather essentially recycles every breath you take by removing the bad stuff (carbon dioxide) and adding in a little good stuff (oxygen) when needed while your breath flows through the machine. During this course of action, your exhalations are not let out into the atmosphere; they are recycled through the unit. This process allows for “silent diving.”

You might be asking yourself, how silent are we really talking about? If you take a moment while you’re reading this text to pinch your nose as you breathe in and out of your mouth, that is how silent rebreather diving can be. Now to compare the process… As you inhale through your regulator on traditional open circuit SCUBA, a hiss sound is created as you draw a breath in; when you exhale, bubbles are released creating even more noise. The noise produced by diving open circuit SCUBA is loud and heard by the marine life around you, giving them a chance to swim away or hide before you have a change to see them. Rebreather diving or “silent diving” gives you a quieter approach in the water allowing for more opportunities to see marine life you may not have even realized was there.

The experience with marine life interaction on a rebreather versus open circuit diving can be compared to your experience while watching a movie. When you’re diving open circuit, it’s like watching a movie on your television at home. You get to see the movie out in front of you nice and clear. You may not get the best details of the film, but you’ll find the overall experience is still good. When you’re on a rebreather, it’s like having a set of 3D glasses on with a massive screen in front of you. The images are brought to life and in your face, details are apparent and the overall experience is a lot of fun. Although the fish know you are there, they are not startled by your presence so they feel the freedom to swim around you and get close with ease. This gives photographers the ultimate viewpoint while capturing underwater photos. You may even have to remind yourself to look and not touch!

Taking photos underwater on a rebreather is a very attractive idea to many photographers out there, but there is a catch; you must have a third eye focused on the rebreather at all times and have the discipline to put the camera down if needed. The rebreather is the number one priority of the dive, even if you have a pod of dolphins in front of you! It’s important to ask yourself if you have the self-control to do this to keep you safe in the water. Rebreathers are a great tool for many diving applications and should be taken very seriously.

Now imagine yourself silently descending on a dive, and you see so much more while you’re gliding through the water. You find the perfect subject to take photos of, and it doesn’t seem to mind your company as you click away…

For more information on rebreathers, check us out at and search for a dive center or instructor near you.

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