Extreme Photography: Underwater Photography
Our friends over at Photography Talk have just created another one of their nifty lists. This list is about the nine most dangerous photography jobs. While I have only a few quibbles with their list (really, skydiving photography is probably pretty safe considering just how many checks there are before you actually get in the plane, let alone before you jump out of it at altitude), for the most part, we’re in agreement. War photographers and photojournalists do routinely put themselves in harm’s way in order to bring important stories back home to their readers. Sports photographers can get injured when the action goes out of bounds but, generally, they’re not in nearly as much danger as a war or a storm photographer.
Out of the entire list though, one really stood out to me and that is underwater photography. Underwater photography is probably the most hardcore kind of photography you can engage in considering that it forces you to get special cameras that can survive the pressure for deep dives but you also have to deal with the way that light gets bent in water (if you’re doing an open water dive, that is). You also have to be in fairly good health if you’re going to do much SCUBA work — the gear is not light at all (even underwater the weight is noticeable) and you have to keep good notes in your dive book as well as staying on top of all of your certifications (Open Water, River, Cave, Deep Water, etc). The only certification I have is Open Water (and it’s so out-of-date that I’d need to take a refresher course before I went out on a dive). Of course, if you do SCUBA dive, especially in open water where things are fairly picturesque (near a reef or where there are a lot of colorful fish), then you do wind up wishing you could take a camera with you so everyone who is too afraid of SCUBA diving could see how things are when you’re 30 feet down.
A lot of a photographer’s normal tricks go out the window when he goes under the water. The further down you go, the less reds and yellows you’ll see due to the sun’s shorter wavelengths being absorbed by the water over you. Even if you aren’t down very deep, the further away the subject is from you, the less you’ll see of brighter colors. Light from the flash reflects and behaves differently. Underwater lighting rigs are mounted and set off differently than their above-ground counterparts. However, once you’ve mastered the tricks that come with photographing things underwater, then you’ve pretty much made it as far as I’m concerned. Underwater photography is spectacular even when it’s just shots of the sun reflecting against the surface thirty feet up.
What about you? What do you think is the most extreme kind of photography? Let us know in the comments below!
– da Bird