COVER SHOT

CAP­TUR­ING THE PER­FECT

Sport Diver - Inside: Sport Diver - - PRESSREADER INSIDE -

Cover im­ages are vi­tally im­por­tant to Sport Diver, as we want to ‘pop’ on the news­stand against our ri­val ti­tles and ‘wow’ sub­scribers when they pick up the mag­a­zine from their door step.

Choos­ing a cover is never an easy thing to do. While we need an im­age with plenty of im­pact, we also re­quire room for the mast­head and cover lines—a re­mark­ably hard task to ac­com­plish. I get cover pho­to­graphs from every­where—im­age banks, reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors—I’ve even stum­bled across the odd great shot on Face­book and tracked the pho­tog­ra­pher down to get the orig­i­nal im­age. How­ever, I have also started to cap­ture my own cover im­ages, taken while on as­sign­ment for the mag­a­zine, and see­ing first­hand what goes into tak­ing a solid cover shot has given me even more of an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the skill in­volved.

The De­cem­ber is­sue of Sport Diver was a case in point. I was on as­sign­ment in Bon­aire in the Dutch Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. My wife, Pen­ney (my reg­u­lar buddy and un­der­wa­ter model) and I were cruis­ing along a wall at 25m when I spot­ted a mas­sive Caribbean spiny lob­ster crawl­ing along the reef some 10 me­ters be­low us. I caught Pen­ney’s at­ten­tion, pointed out the lob­ster and then care­fully dropped down to its depth sev­eral me­tres in front of it, which then al­lowed me to slowly ap­proach the crus­tacean with­out spook­ing it. At the same time, Pen­ney stealth­ily ap­proached from be­hind it. Get­ting close enough to shoot took sev­eral min­utes, as ev­ery time the lob­ster looked like it was get­ting ready to dart away, we had to pause, hold po­si­tion and then move once it had set­tled down.

I was ini­tially shoot­ing land­scape, and got a couple of great shots in the bag with Pen­ney right along­side it. How­ever, upon re­al­is­ing that the large lobby was quite re­laxed in our pres­ence and didn’t seem to mind us sur­round­ing it, my mind turned to­ward cover po­ten­tial.

I care­fully ro­tated my cam­era into po­si­tion to shoot por­trait and eyed the viewfinder on my un­der­wa­ter hous­ing. The lob­ster was big and boasted some great coloura­tion on its cara­pace and legs. Pen­ney was lo­cated right next to it to give some idea of size and scale, and the reef on which it was perched pleas­ingly ran from the bot­tom left to the top right of the im­age. I snapped a couple of shots, and the sec­ond one was the im­age we even­tu­ally ran with on the cover.

Ev­ery­thing just fell into place. The reef nicely splits the cover in two, with the co­ral and the lob­ster on the one side, and Pen­ney and the dark back­ground on the other. I de­lib­er­ately shot with a high F-stop to achieve a dark back­ground, which gives the mast­head and top cover lines a deep black to stand out against.

For once, the marine life played ball and be­cause of our care­ful, non-threat­en­ing ap­proach, the lob­ster was happy for us to ‘wran­gle’ it into po­si­tion. It is not nor­mally that easy, and we have spent ages work­ing a sub­ject only for it to tire of our pres­ence and swim away, just as I was get­ting ready to take the shot. So frus­trat­ing!

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