When timid photographers venture past the boundary that separates us from our air-breathing, dry-loving equipment, a new world of possibilities abound.
Canon G10 with underwater housing
One of the reasons I recently adopted the Canon G10 as my compact camera was the ready-availability of an underwater housing. In addition to the luxury of having a RAW-capable, high-megapixel camera always at hand, I wanted to have a means to photograph in conditions that might be hazardous to my normal gear.
If any of you remember a previous post: water, cameras and I do not get along. You may also know that I am a shoreline, river and waterfall nut and love to shoot near the water’s edge. Rain, mist, the spray of waterfalls and the occasional accidental dunking have all contributed to equipment failures and lost shots. I thought an underwater housing might be a partial solution to the problem.
On my recent trip to Costa Rica, I mounted the G10 in it’s WP-CD28 housing while the tour group played in a natural hot spring at Las Bromelias. Here was a perfect chance to try out a little wet photography. Originally, I had envisioned using the protected camera as a normal device taking normal pictures but soon saw there were other possibilities.
The shot above was close to my original vision: a standard landscape with a precariously close-to-the-air/water interface as possible. The proximity of the lens to the water made for an interesting abstract color pattern in the foreground. I was excited about the possibilities and I started to play around a bit.
Underwater photography has its own set of problems and solutions I was soon to discover. Buoyancy and lack of buoyancy are two problems that don’t often intrude in the normal photographic world. A simple matter of the arm’s length self-portrait proved quite difficult. Buoyancy was one issue, bubbles were another. It was difficult to stay under long enough to allow those bubbles, I carried with me, to clear and get the unobstructed shot.
A helping hand, or pair of them, rather, from a fellow photographer and I was able to stay under long enough to snap this quick self portrait. It was only then I could start thinking about things like lighting, color shift, refraction indexes and even the other, more conventional, photographic concerns. I would have to say that the experience was eye-opening to say the least. Before, I would have thought that it was as easy as strapping on a protected camera and snapping away. It is much more difficult. It is photography in an alien environment. Care for personal safety and equipment protection are foremost. So much thought must be given to these that the technical and artistic concerns sometimes suffer.
If you decide to try, consider sharing the experience as well. Not everyone brings a water toy with them. Pass it around and let others catch the bug. My jungle hot springs portrait was taken by Laurie Hernandez of Worldesigns Photo’s Costa Rica tours. I love that the photo shows below the air/water interface as well as above. Great photography? Perhaps not but it is a step into a new world of creative imaging. I look like I am having fun too!
Consider a trip to the water’s edge and see what happens.
Rikk Flohr © 2009