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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Getting your camera underwater

The world is awash with photos. Everybody and their dog has a digital camera and snaps away willy nilly with it.

So how do you make your images stand out from the pack? One way is to come up with a different viewpoint - to get your camera somewhere other people don't.

One option is to take your camera underwater. You don't need to have a really expensive underwater housing with lots of strobe equipment. If you've got a point and shoot digital you can often find small housings for quite a low cost.

For those shooting with DSLR's one option is the Ewa-Marine bag. I've used one of these handy bags on a few commercial photo shoots, and often take it with me on trips just in case there's an opportunity for me to get wet.

The camera fits in pretty snugly and you can put a flash on top as well. It's pretty hard to push all the buttons on a digital camera so you'll want to set everything up before you go. For these shots of my youngest playing in our pool I put the ISO on 200, turned the flash off and just let 'er rip.

One thing to keep in mind is that when you're shooting underwater things get pretty murky pretty quickly. In other words you can't use a telephoto lens and shoot stuff 50 metres away. You need to put the wide angle lens on and get as close as you can. In this case I had the Canon 10-22mm extreme wide-angle on. I tend to not zoom all the way out to 10mm because it vignettes at the corners where the edges of the glass port get in the way.

One thing I can never stress enough is always play with a new piece of kit before you take it away. Get to know it so that you can use it instinctively when you get to your destination. Playing around with it in my back yard let me see that it's pretty hard to see the LCD so I just used it to check the histogram.

I also found that even though you can go up to 50 metres down with the bag I found it easiest to use when I was floating on the surface and had the boys come up to me. It's pretty hard to stay down unless you have a weight belt on. Allen Murabayashi over at the Photoshelter blog took his Ewa-Marine bag for a surf.

These bags aren't dirt cheap but if you're looking for a great way to get your camera somewhere different then it's a great investment. Oh, and they're great for self-portraits too! :)

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