Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an underwater photographer? Imagine sitting on a boat, putting on this heavy gear (40-50 pounds) and then, after you giant stride into the water…. you’re weightless!
Actually, more than that, you’re floating (“wait, what?”), yep, floating. You get your camera rig handed to you from the boat, hook up with your buddy, let a little bit of air out of your BCD and descend, weightlessly gliding through the water in search of adventure, from the smallest sea critters to the largest pelagic predators, maybe even spotting a wreck!
You may be thinking “very cool, but how do I get there?”
Well, you have to start by being comfortable in the water – which takes education and practice – because when you are shooting on land, you don’t have to worry about breathing, but underwater, there is no air except what you bring with you. Even the best swimmers can always use practice and improvement; though I grew up freediving and spearfishing, I recently took a freediving class just to hone those skills even more.
Depending on what type of underwater photography you want to do, if it’s in a pool or other shallow water or you’re looking for large pelagics like dolphins and whales you don’t need SCUBA – you can simply take a freedive course to learn how to handle that environment, but don’t neglect a water-based first-aid course to keep yourself and others safe.
Now you’re feeling good and your comfortable in the water, how do I get my camera in there with out ruining it? There are several answers anywhere from a $50 plastic bag off Amazon that I would advise against, up to a pro level DSLR with an aluminum underwater housing and strobes that would run you the price of a small car.
But let’s start with something that is good and won’t break the bank, if you are planning on just working in your pool or in the shallow waters of a spring or river (Less than 33 ft.), Outex makes a great solution around $400. If you are looking for something a little more robust like a surf housing from AquaTech you will be between $1000 and $1500. The pinnacle will be a full dive housing that’s rated to depths from 60 meters or more; like Ikelites ABS-PC housing going for $1600 up to a fully machined aluminum housing like the one from Seacam for $5000 and that’s just for the base housing no ports or lights.
This is all assuming you know the camera you want to use, which is a topic in and of itself because the optics underwater are more different than on land and what makes a great land lens might make it a poor underwater lens.(more…)