Sunday, May 1, 2011

Assignment 5: Planning

Much of DPP looks at the overall issues of workflow in photography.  For a diving trip workflow is critical and starts with the pre-travel preparation.  Underwater photograph, particularly with a DSLR is a demanding activity and requires a considerable amount of equipment, in my case:

  • 2 x Canon EOS 40D (always have a spare body, sea water kills cameras)
  • 60mm Macro
  • 10-22mm WA Zoom
  • Batteries, Chargers
  • Memory cards - I take an 8GB for each days diving, I do not earse them until I return to home
  • Laptop for downloading cards
  • external HD for back - this way I have 3 copies of every photograph
  • Underwater Housing - Mine is an Ikelite, made from tyrasnparent plastic, very handy for seeing if any water has entered the system
  • Flat port for Macro and Dome port for wide angle - each lens must have a separate port on the housing
  • 2 external strobes with 125J each, underwater photography requires a lot of light, these are considered small strobes even though each weighs around 1Kg
  • Arm system to enable me to position the strobes underwater
  • Tool kit to enable simple repairs
All of this has to be assmebled and carefully checked before getting on the plane.  In addition I have a 15-85mm and 70-300 zoom for above water work.  Added to this is a second system for HD video that my wife uses, less weight than my system but still quite bulky.

This is my camera system laid out in preparation to pack - I always arrange the system on a table to mentally check that I have everything

The second aspect to planning an underwater photography trip is contemplation of subject and the style of image that I wish to achieve.  I have been shooting underwater with an SLR for over 5 years and am technically an accomplished shooter, however, ost of my work is very much orientated towards accuracy and detail.  My great joy is macro frequently working at 1:1 magnification and often f/22 or even smaller apertures.  This yields often impressive results, e.g.

but can be a little too precise.  In the above image the background is black because I have shot with a very small aperture and the only light reaching the sensor is from the strobes.  I do like this image and it was part of my Assignment 5 submission for TAOP, but it is of a certain style.  recently I have experimented with very shallow DoF and wide apertures, yielding a much better rendition of the water and an almost dreamy look to the image:

This takes some care as placing the focal point is critical to the success of the image. 

These two images are successful underwater macro shots, however, the second has a better feel to it.  My goal on this trip will be to further develop this style applying it also to larger subjects such as schools of fish.  I also plan to experiment with dragging the shutter on moving subjects to try and obtain a sense of movement in the images.

The photographer I hope to emulate (to some extent) is David Doubilet, regularly featured in NAtional Geographic, but also one of the most sensitive underwater artists.  He frequently works in B&W and creates some truly dramatic imagery

The destination for our trip is the Sulu Sea between Borneo and the Philippines.  This is priamrily a macro destination, so I expect to most often be using my 60mm macro.  However, the island we are visiting is the home of a number of large schools of fish so I hope to combine some wide angle work as well.

The goal for this trip will be the publication of a book of underwater images produced as an art photo book, rather than a holiday album.  I use Blurb to publish my books and have been very happy with the quality of their work.  I do not expect to include this in my submission for the course, but it is an option. 

For the course I plan a series of 10-12 prints, each using different techniques in capture and processing, illustrating my learning in the course, but also (I hope) conveying my passion for diing and the art of underwater photography.

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