Training

Taking quarries to new depths

Mark Thomas, an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer, snaps photographs of the diving quarries in Ohio in the US. Scuba diving quarries are depleted or abandoned rock quarries that have been allowed to fill with ground water and recommitted to the purpose of scuba diving.
Diving quarries are often used as training sites for new divers, where classes and certification dives are carried out. They are often stocked with fish for the divers to enjoy and feature contrived ?wrecks? such as sunken boats, cars and aircraft for divers to explore.
Thomas? dual hobby has only recently taken on a greater sense of purpose. When his photos became a topic of discussion among friends and divers on Facebook, Thomas was inspired to document what the quarries have to offer. 
?Instead of coral, there might be a tree,? Thomas said. ?Instead of a shark, it?s bass. There still is colour. It?s just about taking time to look for it.?
Thomas has dubbed the informal effort ?Discover Ohio?s Unseen World?. Through social media, he shares pictures and encourages other divers to discover and appreciate the beauty of diving quarries.
?Everybody thinks you need to jaunt off to Indonesia, the Caribbean,? said Andy Silverman, a diving instructor and the owner of Columbus Scuba which provides certified training in diving. 
Silverman has several poster-sized prints of Thomas? works hanging in his business. ?There is so much in these bodies of water that people don?t know about and Mark puts it on paper,? Silverman said.
It is little known that that freshwater jellyfish swim in the 20-foot-deep Circleville quarry ? or that the rock walls of Gilboa Quarry in northwestern Ohio resemble a saltwater reef off the coast of Mexico.
Thomas said that winter dives in Ohio don?t always yield stellar photos, as clouds and snow darken the water and hibernating fish are hidden.
In the water, he said, he relies on patience. He can sit at the bottom of a quarry for 20 minutes waiting for a bluegill to become comfortable with him. In turn, he explained that perfecting underwater photography ? whether it be in a quarry waterhole, the ocean, shipwrecks or in caverns ? requires time.
?I can?t tell you how many thousands and thousands of bad photographs I took before the magic started happening,? he said. ?There are no books on how to get these colours in these quarries. You have to think outside the box.?
Sources: The Columbus Dispatch, Wikipedia

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