Underwater Photography

I spent 10 days in Hawaii and brought along a small intro waterproof camera. The Olympus Tough is good down to 15 meters, so deep enough to take scuba diving, it shoots raw at 16mb files, and has accessories to give you various focal lengths, including a fish eye which is very useful for underwater work, plus a floatation strap so it won’t sink if it slips out of your hands (very useful and came in handy a lot). The functionality is that of a consumer point and shoot, which comes with the territory I guess for a camera under 350$, but does have some easy to access priority functions which is important when working underwater. For the money it’s quite a good little piece of gear.

I took it snorkelling everyday, down on my first couple scuba dives, and even along a night swim with manta rays to shoot some video.

But this isn’t a camera review! The main thing is that I got to play around and experiment under water for the first time and I loved it.

One thing I noticed was that I was freed from using a horizon line and could see the world so differently without that one factor. Another important difference from shooting on terra firma is that I was really at the mercy of nature, whether I was shooting while snorkelling or underwater while scuba diving.

Obviously the main issue with this type of work is breathing, and being conscious of where my next breath is coming from. The second factor was the energy in the ocean and where it was taking me, sometimes for the good, sometimes against my will. It’s very hard to stay in one place, as everything from the plants to fish to you, are being moved by the unseen energy of the water. The third factor was visibility and not seeing what was out there to shoot (due to the colour of the water or light issues) until the very last moment a lot of the time. Shooting on the surface (snorkel) or underneath (scuba) was dangerous/life threatening, overpowering, and required a willingness to instantly react to get the shots you hoped to get.

Bottom line is it’s a very freeing experience if you allow it to be. Certain rules still apply like framing and rules of thirds, but only if you want them to. They are very easy to break and let go of while still creating something that is pleasing on the eyes. When I came home I bought full 5 inch wetsuits for myself and my daughter. I can’t always get to exotic locations to have fun so want to be ready to jump in here in the Pacific Northwest when the inspiration is there.

I was lucky on my dive because three pro shooters were on the boat with me. They were all using D800’s, in pro housings, with two light attachments. To fully outfit myself with a similar rig would cost around 10K, and every time you change lenses need a different accessory for it, and each time you upgrade to a new body, BOOM, you have to drop another 2-3k for a new matching housing. So diving and shooting like a pro is an expensive game, and you have to either be independently wealthy to play along, or have a business plan to make money from your underwater shooting.

If you’ve had any experiences with diving/snorkeling, positive or not, I’d love to hear your personal stories and about the gear solutions you came up with.

British Maritime Museum

In the summer of 2016, I took some time off for the first time in years.  I joined the Cloud Appreciation Club, and simply let my mind wander and open up to new ideas and inspirations. I read more, and one book I sunk my teeth into was an early 20th century swashbuckling novel about the heights of the British Navy, during the time of Lord Horatio Nelson, in the late 1700’s.

I became fascinated by those times, how different they were in terms of materials that shaped their lives.  I was also blown away actually by how similar those times were to now, especially in terms of trade and globalization.  The Brits, and the Spanish and French, were all setting the table for what civilization is like today; global trade routes, bringing in goods from around the world, plantations, plundering the natural world, using and abusing other cultures for the betterment of the West and etc.

I was also very interested in how slow life was back then, simply because they didn’t have electricity yet.  Stoves were heated by burning wood.  Ships were set in motion by the wind. Things were made by hand, and machines run by human effort.  I became fascinated by what they built and how they built them, the materials they used, and how the task at hand was more important than the health of the people who were performing those tasks.  On the Man of War battleships, with three masts, sailors had virtually no private space, ate horribly, had to crouch to walk around, were hardly ever let off the ships during years of service, and slept hanging above the tables and canons.

It was a frigid December day in this small coastal town on the English Channel.  I walked around for hours, exploring the two ships they had there: The HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s Man of War wooden ship from 1805, and the HMS Warrior, an entirely iron built Man of War from 1860 that changed things forever.  These images are a small portion of the images I took that day, and it’s really just a personal interest post today.  I’m not sure where this interest will lead me, but that’s the beauty of it.  Unlike my business efforts,  this doesn’t have to have a plan behind it.