All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘underwater’
During my Von Wong Does Europe tour, I had the chance to meet and shoot the amazing cast and crew of the Underwater Realm. Erwan, my videographer put this amazing behind the scenes video together which goes into great detail documenting all the work that went into creating a few shots and some test video footage.
The idea behind this video was to showcase the crazy amount of work necessary to put together a simple day’s photoshoot. True, the day was also a practice for the crew of the UWR, but rarely do you have the luxury of time especially when it comes down to creative projects.
How I met the UWR
I guess some of you are wondering: How did you even get in contact with the folks over at the Underwater Realm in the first place? Did you guys know each other?
The answer is no. I stumbled on them completely by chance way back in 2011 when DIY Photography featured an article about Making A Non Destructible, Mobile, Power Efficient, Waterproof Kino Flo System and couldn’t help but reach out to them. Much to my surprise they replied.
At this point in time, I was still working as a full time mining engineer with no plans of quitting so it seemed like meeting and collaborating with them all the way in London was nothing more than a wistful dream. Somehow though, life brought us together and when I wrote back to him in March 2012, Dave Reynold’s reply was a simple and direct: Let’s do it.
Fast forward a couple months and we’re zipping accross Europe a couple days after my shoot with Pyrotechnician Andrey DAS. The travel has been quite hectic all around and there wasn’t very much communication between ourselves and the UWR due to extremely busy schedules and travelling constraints so things had to be finalized quite last minute.
We settled in at RealmHQ (at the time) around 10 PM and Dave and I sat around the living room table and began casually planning the one shot we were really looking to achieve – an underwater behind the scenes photograph worthy of a two page magazine spread. We wanted to create an extremely stylized and dramatic Behind the Scenes image of the cast & crew at work giving a sneak preview at the awesome project that they’re putting together. The image could then be used for a two page spread on a magazine without necessary giving out the plots or storyline.
Our morning began bright and early as the diving pool was only available from 7 AM to 4 PM. This meant that we would be dealing with an extremely tight schedule. Complex makeup, hair and costumes were going to have to be done on 4 different models, lighting & camera equipment to be set up underwater and the concept smoothed out. This meant a lot of waiting and testing as we dealt with the logistics of dealing with a high end underwater photoshoot. Simple things like swapping out a battery or memory card would take up to 30 minutes!
Since I only had only had small diving strobes with me that was really only designed to shoot small marine animals from very close up, I had no choice but to think of a solution to trigger the strobes on the surface of the water.
Since the camera was going to be stationary on a tripod underwater, I rigged up a small strobe that was suspended directly over the water with the help of a Nasty Clamp and a piece of wood. This way, I would be able to point my underwater strobe vertically upwards to trigger my speedlight, which would then be able to fire across the room to trigger my Linkstar 500 Watt studio strobe … which would then create all the light I would be needing for my shot.
Setup light diagram provided by Sylights.com: http://www.sylights.com/vonwong/6780-uwr
Once all the elements were ready, we barely had any time left in the day. Rather than take the time to shoot each person individually, we decided to do everything all at once, so we had the entire crew of the UWR dive into the pool all at once. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to nail one single shot where everyone was perfect but with a little bit of compositional magic, we managed to pull off the shot that we really wanted to achieve.
And the final shot:
On top of the shot we wanted to create, I had the opportunity to shoot some additional frames of the actors as they practiced swimming around. This allowed me to make some pretty nifty images that can now be used as promotional material for the Underwater Realm. Though these stories don’t quite exist yet… who knows down the line what crazy projects will result of this endeavour!
If you guys enjoyed these photos and videos, I would like to invite you to check out one of the five short videos that the Underwater Realm pulled together:
Also, if you’re looking to try out underwater photography on your own, I’ve taken all my experience from this shoot and a couple others and written out an article that you might enjoy! Click on the banner below to check it out:
Our tour is sponsored by: http://www.slrlounge.com/ and our studio equipment/lighting/equipment sponsored by: www.lovinpix.com
- Congrats to Ghislain Leduc for winning last weeks bracelet draw!
- I will be giving a 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th of March… if you’re interested, subscribe for my workshop updatesand I’ll contact you soon!
- I’ve been nominated in the [FRAMED] awards as one of the best conceptual photographers! Drop me a vote or two to support me: http://bit.ly/10QntqG
- I am hard at work on the Von Wong does Europe DVD! There is only one more BTS video remaining and we shall be fulfilling our print commitments!
Shooting creative portraits underwater can be quite a challenging task. I’ve summed up a couple tips and tricks that can help you get ready for your first couple experimentations in creative underwater portrait photography.
For those of you that want to try out underwater photography, chances are you’re not looking to spend thousands of dollars on an underwater housing. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that act as glorified plastic bags that are quite secure such as the DicaPac *** which can house a full frame DSLR and lens for only $75. Starter housings like the Ikelite housings cost over $1500 body only and that’s just the beginning!
*** When purchasing any type of glorified plastic bag, I highly recommend you test it regularly by sealing it and putting in a sink/bathtub/toilet full of water to check for leaks. Manufacturers will not reimburse your camera if it leaks!
Myself holding a DicaPac somewhere in Malaysia
1. Water will affect your shot and your lighting!
Water affects your lighting. As you probably know, the deeper you go, the less light reaches your subject. On top of that, water acts as a massive filter that eats up the entire spectrum of reds… which means that your shots will get more and more blue as you go deeper. Depending on lighting conditions, you might want to stay as close to the surface of the water as possible to get the best skin tones and to keep your shutter speed from getting too slow! Additionally, the farther you are from your subject, the blurrier they will tend to become!
Keep all of this in mind when planning your shots!
2. Radio triggers don’t work underwater!
If you were planning on triggering surface strobes using radio triggers, think again. Radio waves unfortunately don’t travel through water which means that you’re limited to optical triggering using underwater strobes, or hoping that your flash+plastic bag combination is powerful enough to trigger strobes on the surface.
If you plan on triggering using the on camera flash, cover any part of the housing/bag directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape/gaffer tape to prevent backscatter from the internal flash that could ruin your image!
Alternatively, if you happen to be a little bit on the handy-side of things, look into this fabulous DIY solution
Alternatively, contact the folks over at The Underwater Realm and ask them for their lighting plans for their underwater LED lights! They might still have them for sale: http://theunderwaterrealm.com/contact/
3. Plan for time! Things take 3 times longer to happen… at least.
Normally takes you 30 minutes to nail a shot? Don’t count on it when playing underwater. Things take exponentially longer to happen when it’s happening underwater. Everything is more complicated: framing, focusing, breathing, directing, changing settings, moving lighting… and even worst, as the day gets on, you get tired and things get only harder!
4. Think oxygen & comfort!
It may sound stupid but things you take for granted such as breathing and staying warm don’t work the same way underwater as they do over water.
Best case scenario, get an entire scuba kit.
Worst case scenario, grab some fins to increase your mobility.
Also, staying in water for long periods of time gets uncomfortable quite quick so be sure to grab a full body wet suit. These small things that help keep you comfortable will help ensure that your mind stays more focused on creating the image you want to create.
Finally, be sure to bring snorkeling goggles over standard swimming goggles. Keeping water out of your nose will make your life so much more comfortable in the long run.
5. Beware the drowning face
Unfortunately, most people tend to look quite ugly as they strike glorious graceful poses underwater. Many a time, shots are ruined because of a missed expression. Before taking photos of your models, run them through the poses underwater making sure that they’re comfortable. Getting them to perform the same routine over and over again while your attention is 100% focused on their expression and not grabbing the shot will help both parties understand what needs to be done to pull off the perfect expression.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the drowning face, some amazing portraits can be created by simply cutting off/obscuring the heads of your models. Brooke Shaden does this quite often in her amazing underwater works (beware a lot of her stuff is NSFW).
6. Light floaty clothes and props are magical underwater
Light transparent cloth looks amazing underwater and adds a glorious sense of ethereal beauty to your images and is great for helping you tell a story without drowning your models. Keep in mind that it will hinder your models movements which brings me to the last and final point…
Bringing props underwater will also make things even more surreal. Simple objects take on a whole new meaning underwater. Some ideas: guitar, chair, flowers…
Photo Credit: Renee Robyn Photography / Model: Madison Mah
7. Run through breathing and visualization techniques to help improve your shots
Speaking of drowning expressions, one thing that will greatly help you stay underwater longer and get a better expression is to perform a combination of visualization techniques and breathing exercises.
Surprisingly, it is not the lack of oxygen that triggers the urge for air after you hold your breath for very long but the body’s buildup of carbon dioxide. That can be controlled with a little practice.
8. Bring swim noodles and lead weights!
Swim noodlesare the perfect flotation device that are great to have so that your models don’t need to swim to the edge of the pool/lake/sea after every take. They’re long, bright, hard to loose and ridiculously useful.
Lead weightson the flip side can be useful for sinking your models rapidly if you happen to be in a deep environment so that they don’t waste time and energy to get to the bottom of the pool.
9. Prepare a safety person
I can’t stress how important this final point is. Having somebody standing by to get your model out of trouble if she tangles herself while you’re fiddling with the camera is absolutely critical. Water is dangerous and you always want to be sure that people are on hand just in case anything goes wrong.
And finally, some inspiration from some great creative underwater photographers:
- Zena Holloway: http://www.zenaholloway.com/
- Elena Kalis: http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/
- Alix Malka: http://underwaterfashion.org/archives/355
Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment!
The dream list of equipment… one day
And for those interested in seeing how I shot the Underwater Realm: