2012 PADI Diving Society Card Winner

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Name: Darin Dow Sakdatorn
Diver level: PADI Rescue Diver
Number of dives: 318

Darin Dow SakdatornPADI Diving Society (Society): Tell us a little about yourself as a PADI Diver?
Darin Dow Sakdatorn (DS):
After finishing school in the United States in 2004, I went back to Thailand to work. It turned out that I had a couple of weeks before I started my first job, and having passed by so many diving schools in Bangkok I decided to ask my friends if they wanted to take a scuba course with me during the few weeks I had. I was lucky that one of my cousins was interested in learning as well so we took the PADI Open Water Diver course together as buddies. However, I didn’t have much time to enjoy traveling or scuba diving until these past two years (2010-2011) after discovering how to balance my work life and scuba life.

My dad got me my first DSLR camera in 2009, which is why I became really interested in DSLR photography and videography. Thereafter, I met my Scubazoom, Sea Paradise and Panunee Yacht scuba gangs in Bangkok. They are the ones who introduced me to the world of DSLR underwater photography. Ever since I got my first Nexus housing, I can no longer dive without a camera in my hands!

Original Image by Sakdatorn(Society): As an Underwater Photographer – what tips do you share with your dive buddies?
Converting photos to black and white helps the photos look a lot better when the visibility is poor, like in my winning photo – see the original image, right.

For those who do not enjoy taking photos underwater, they can always turn to underwater posing for wide-angle shots as a model. After modelling for my friends a few times, I can confirm that it is not easy to pose underwater and have the pictures come out good if you do not kick your fins in a proper way or arrange your body posture in a nice position. You need to understand a bit about the camera angles and the kinds of shots that your buddies want to take and the best way to learn about it is to look from various photos taken by people. Hand signalling became immensely useful.

2012 Society Card(Society): Tell us more about your winning photo(right).
The photo was taken in Truk Lagoon aka State of Chuuk, one of the Federated States of Micronesia last year (2010) just before New Year’s Eve. I was blessed that an old friend of mine asked if I had heard of Truk Lagoon and whether I would like to join his trip. After googling about Truk Lagoon, I made up my mind to join the trip no matter what because it was a rare opportunity for me to find a group that was willing to travel very far from home and with an interest in WWII wreck diving. Surprisingly, there were not many books out there about this place so I mostly studied the wrecks I wanted to visit from the web and also asked my uncle who had dove in Chuuk before. Then my friend and I together with the dive guides planned out the possible combinations of wrecks we could visit on each day, depending on other guests’ preferences we shared the boat with and the depths of the wrecks as well. I had three airplane wrecks on my list, and “Emily Flying Boat” shown in my photo was one of them. I learned that only 165 of them were built. Since the aircraft was broken into three sections and because of its size, I used a 15mm fisheye with my Canon 5DMarkII in Nexus housing and two INON Z-240 Type 4 strobes to capture the cockpit and the wings altogether. Because the wreck was in a bit shallow water and normally with poor visibility, I decided to make it into black and white.

(Society):What made you decide to enter the contest?
My first attempt in entering the contest was back in 2009 for the membership card photo contest for the year 2010. Back then, I sent photos from my first two trips where I used my new DSLR underwater. Even though I did not win nor enter into the final round of the 2010 membership card contest, I decided to sign up for the Society Membership anyway. The reason why I decided to re-enter again this year was because I thought I had collected some nicer photos than I did before and I wanted to give it one more try.

(Society): What is the best part about being a PADI Diving Society member?
(DS): The members-only magazine subscription*.

(Society): When you’re not diving, what type of activities are you involved in?
(DS): I sometimes take pictures of my brothers in concerts; my brother is a singer in Thailand. Also, for the past two years, I have been enjoying safaris in Kenya with my mom so much that I am planning to go there again next year. Participating in safari game drives sometimes make me feel like searching for rare critters underwater because you really have to keep your head up and look for anything that moves in the field e.g. wildebeest migration, black rhino, leopards outside bushes, cheetah feeding, etc.

Want the new 2012 Society card by Darin Dow Sakdatorn? Join PADI Diving Society today*.

*Magazine publications and Society benefits vary by region
All photos courtesy of Darin Dow Sakdatorn