Taking Pictures, Keeping Memories

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 14:21 | Filled in Biography, Dive Equipment

The Yue Family at the Beach

The Yue Family L-R: Charlie, Joann, Haeyoon and Author, Frank Enjoying a Day at Wrightsville Beach in 1968

I was moving some pictures around between computers an hard drives the other day. As I moved them, I would glance at them and recall the time that they were taken. That’s the beauty of photography.  The pictures are a link to the past and help stir images and memories of when that event occurred.  Of course, I don’t really have any memories of this first picture.  Here I am at Wrightsville Beach, NC in 1968.  That’s me on the right.  My brother Charlie and sister Joann are on the left of my mother, Haeyoon.  I am glad to see that I am in relatively good spirits, though I do know it took a little encouragement to actually get me in the water.

 

Nikonos-V Camera

Nikonos-V Camera

Photography is a great way for scuba divers to record their dives and retain a keepsake without physically taking anything.  Taking pictures underwater is a lot easier than one would think.  First, there is the equipment.  The past several years has been very friendly to underwater photographers.  Digital photography has completely changed the landscape. In the not too long ago past, one have to take a camera like the Nikonos-V which held a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film.  With only 36 shots, a photographer better make sure they have the right shot before they push that shutter button!  A digital camera can take hundreds or thousands of high quality images with its digital media.  The photographer can press that shutter button as often as they want as long as the camera battery holds up.  If the picture doesn’t look good, just delete it.

 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010

Cameras have substantially dropped in prices relative to their functionality.  It is possible to get a 14 megapixel rugged compact digital camera for less than $300 street price. To allow the camera survive the trip underwater, you will need to get it an underwater housing which can be as inexpensive as $200 street price.

 

PT-048 Underwater Case for Stylus Tough-8010

PT-048 Underwater Case for Stylus Tough-8010

These cameras are great and provide a very solid introduction to underwater photography.  They produce outstanding pictures and are easy to carry around both underwater and on the surface.  I used to use a Canon PowerShot S400 digital camera and housing before I recently upgraded.  Some of the digital compact cameras produced even have settings to optimize the picture for underwater settings.

 

Of course, just like surface photography, if you want better pictures, you need to move to fancier and more expensive cameras and accessories.  One of the first items you should consider is an accessory light.  This is typically a strobe/flash to provide additional light for your subject.  There are two lighting related problems with shooting pictures underwater.  First, as you go deeper, the water absorbs the light, so it gets darker.  Second, the water is selective in the light that it absorbs.  It prefers the red wavelengths, causing everything to look blue.  Red colors end up looking gray or black.

 

The flash that is built into the typical compact camera is not strong enough and is not designed to deal with the water very well.  A strobe will start around $300 and approach over $1000 for the larger and more advanced ones.  Some companies offer packages that combine the camera, case and strobe such as SeaLife Cameras.

 

Brad Butler Diving and Shooting

Brad Butler Taking Pictures in Statia

Of course, the serious photographers will want a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera.  These are the high-end recreational and professional cameras.  These cameras start around $400 street price, but are more typically priced from $1200-3000+.  The underwater cases for these cameras are more expensive, as well, since they are usually more complex with all the buttons and support for multiple lenses.  My friend Brad, who hosts Cool Dudes Diving, has an awesome camera setup.  He has a Canon 5D Mark II camera in an Ikelite housing with two strobes attached to it.  I am extremely envious of his camera and the quality of the pictures he takes.

 

Frank's Underwater Camera Setup

Frank's Underwater Camera Setup

I decided to compromise and get one of the new mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.  My camera is an Olympus E-PL1 micro four thirds format camera that sacrifices some quality that you find in the digital SLR cameras for size and cost. I added a single Sea and Sea strobe and a couple other accessories.  I am extremely happy with the size and performance of my system.  Here are a few pictures that I have taken that I like from recent trips and dives.

 

Christ of the Abyss

Christ of the Abyss

Green Moray Eel

Green Moray Eel

USS Duane

USS Duane

 

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Sea Anemone

Sea Anemone

Nurse Shark

Nurse Shark

 

 

-Frank

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