We’re constantly amazed to see how customers use our products. From impressive (and massive) long term time lapse construction projects, to bringing awareness to environmental issues of our oceans, to creating immersive customer experiences. It’s always a nice surprise for the CamDo team to receive footage from customers that put our products to use in creative ways to capture unique footage of a world that most never get to experience.
Long-time customer, Russ Ricketts (you might remember him from the Under the Ice video of spawning salmon from last year), has utilized our Underwater WiFi Extension cable to capture his adventures as an avid river snorkeler and a self-described ‘fish nerd’. He always takes it a step further and edits his footage into truly beautiful videos. An artful yet subtle nudge to remind the viewer of the natural beauty that surrounds us. Check out his latest below, titled "The Search for Understanding".
CamDo: When you google 'river snorkeling', your name is almost the only one that comes up! How did you get into such a unique activity?
Ricketts: I grew up on a small creek in Washington State, so fish and water has always been part of my life. My 20's were spent away from the water, obsessively snowboarding and rock climbing in the mountains. This forged a strong ethos of exploration and adventure. In my 30s I moved to Las Vegas of all places where I finally turned back to water. Spending a lot of time kayak touring at Lake Mead, my wife Leah and I did a lot of self supported fishing, camping and snorkeling trips.We were hooked!
Finally, we moved back home to Washington where a fisheries biologist friend introduced us to snorkeling in our local rivers. We were blown away and slowly climbing and snowboarding stopped and river snorkeling became my sole focus. This is easy since the river is 3 minutes from my house. I traveled far beyond my local river this last year, snorkeling sections of 30 different rivers and creeks in Washington and Oregon.
Leah is the sane one in the family, sticking mostly to the summer months, but I snorkel 10-11 months a year. Only the spring and fall high waters keep me land locked due to water quality and safety concerns. The whole object is to be able to see. And if you can’t see, snorkeling can be quite dangerous. I swim by myself most of the time simply because there are not many people willing to suffer the cold water. I do have a small group of long time friends and we have a lot of fun swimming remote sections of water in the summer and fall.
What is the most interesting thing you've seen below the river surface?
The most interesting thing that I have discovered in my underwater travels is how complex the aquatic world is. I have become a keen citizen scientist, documenting hundreds of hours of fish behavior on video in detail most real fisheries biologists would appreciate. When a person enters the water, they invariably affect the behavior of the fish they are trying to observe. This interference has been eliminated by using remote camera systems like the CamDo Gopro WiFi Extension cable. My personal observations also include eyes on fish and several times, I've documented native species that are well beyond their known range. Not groundbreaking stuff, but I forward my images and video to local biologists. These unsung heroes of conservation are my favorite people, as they have long used snorkeling as a research tool. Most of the people river snorkeling are scientists. I may not have a degree, but I'm a big fish nerd!
Your videos go beyond simple documentation; they're creatively done - why and when did you decide to start recording and making beautiful videos of your adventures?
The GoPro camera changed the way we see the world, and it certainly changed mine. I only use GoPro cameras because they are small and very rugged, both important attributes when you are traveling rough. I started making little videos simply because what I was seeing was incredible and it was a worthy pursuit. I'm not a trained filmmaker, and that's OK because I've developed a strong personal vision for what I'm doing. Filming adult salmon and trout is easy, but doing it well is very difficult, driving me to develop a lot of black ops techniques to get a specific shot. I love CamDo because they understand the needs of the filmmaker and spend a lot of time developing quality products to help these people achieve their personal vision. The Wi-Fi Extender is a good example of this, although I won't reveal exactly how I make the magic happen! The magician never reveals the trick or the illusion is lost. Sorry!
What do you hope viewers take away from your videos?
I don't often reveal where I snorkel in my video for one reason: It's not about where I'm at, it's about the world around the viewer. I want my viewers to go "Whoa, that looks fun! You know, that one place I fish/ camp/ visit would be perfect!"... and they get to explore the underwater world in their own area with new eyes. We are inundated with information these days. A photo or video will often tell the reader who, where, when and why. I choose to use my snorkeling media in more of an artful, subtle way. Inspiring personal exploration and discovery is the path to forging a deeper connection with our world’s wild places and this forms the core of why I'm doing what I'm doing. I want you to care, and when you care, you will protect what you care about.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I'll see you in the water, but dress warm and don't forget to clean your mask... because seeing is believing.