En­ter­ing a WHOLE NEW WORLD

Com­mer­cial brand man­ager ROSS ARNOLD had never con­tem­plated tak­ing a cam­era un­der­wa­ter, but af­ter be­ing ‘vol­un­teered’, he soon be­came bit­ten by the bug

Sport Diver - - Entering a whole new world - Pho­to­graphs by MARK EVANS and ROSS ARNOLD

With over 500 dives un­der my belt, I wouldn’t re­ally con­sider my­self a rookie, but that all changed when I was tasked with tak­ing un­der­wa­ter pho­tos. I was a com­plete new­bie when it came to shoot­ing pic­tures - I’d not touched a cam­era since the days of Po­laroids, other than the one on my iphone and even then, that wasn’t very of­ten. I much pre­fer to live for the mo­ment and, to this point, had al­ways tried to avoid star­ing at the world through a four-inch screen.

All that changed when Ed­i­tor Mark Evans de­cided I should come on the Ba­hamas Bash reader trip and take part in Stuart Philpott’s photo work­shops. I needed a good, solid cam­era to be­gin with, and opted for the Canon Pow­er­shot G9X with a Fan­tasea hous­ing and wide-an­gle lens. As a starter cam­era, it was very easy to use and of­fered ba­sic au­to­matic func­tions for a to­tal begin­ner, which I could grad­u­ally turn to man­ual as I be­came more con­fi­dent with the cam­era. The hous­ing of­fered large but­tons which made it easy to nav­i­gate the set­tings even with gloves. I also had a Sea & Sea YS-03 strobe, although by the end of the week, I was re­ally re­gret­ting not hav­ing two of these great lit­tle strobes.

For the first cou­ple of dives, I just took the cam­era in the wa­ter with me and played around with the set­tings. Ev­ery­thing was com­ing up blue or red, which was no great sur­prise as I’d not had a chance to speak with Stuart. It did al­low me to get a sense of just be­ing with the cam­era and work­ing on my buoy­ancy and spa­tial aware­ness, which com­pletely went out of the win­dow once I started to fo­cus on get­ting ‘the shot’. Af­ter a few dives, I was more com­fort­able with the cam­era - and my abil­i­ties not to run out of air, or dam­age the reef in any last­ing way! Now it was time to sit down and get some ad­vice on what to do next.

At this point, I should men­tion I get in­cred­i­bly sea­sick, so be­ing on a boat isn’t the best place to learn, es­pe­cially when fo­cus­ing on a small ob­ject tends to make me turn green. In any case, I sol­diered on learn­ing about com­po­si­tion and the dif­fer­ence be­tween aper­ture, shut­ter speed and the ISO, which I’m told all play a cru­cial part in get­ting that per­fect shot. Of course, this mainly went in one ear and out the other, and as I sat there with a con­fused look on my face try­ing not to throw up, I was hop­ing some of it would sink in. We ended the work­shop with the agree­ment that I would run with the cam­era on shut­ter pri­or­ity, and I would man­u­ally con­trol the aper­ture and ex­po­sure my­self.

Back in the wa­ter and this time Stuart was with me on mod­el­ling duty. We were the first into the wa­ter and quickly fined away from the group to find some coral or sponge as a fo­cal point. We dropped down the side of the wall to a nice sponge stick­ing out into the blue. Stu dropped down be­hind it and pa­tiently waited while I ma­neu­vered into po­si­tion. I fired off a cou­ple of shots, but they didn’t look that great so I went back to the set­tings and whacked the aper­ture up to F11. I fired an­other cou­ple of shots, and now it was look­ing bet­ter, but was still not quite there. By this time Stuart was look­ing to move on, but I sig­nalled for him to hold for one more go. I’m rack­ing my brain for what we dis­cussed in the work­shop and I re­mem­bered some­thing about ex­po­sure, so I knocked this down to -1 so it was slightly un­der­ex­posed. I fired an­other shot and this time we were spot on the money with a bright blue back­ground and a rea­son­able shot of a diver with a sponge - not bad for some­one that had only taken a cou­ple of dozen shots.

Af­ter more dives, I was start­ing to take a few cred­i­ble shots, which we would share with the group as we came out of the wa­ter. It was great be­ing on a boat with like-minded peo­ple of all ex­pe­ri­ence as it re­ally helped me de­velop my skills and I could con­tinue learn­ing from oth­ers. Although this was a pho­tog­ra­phy week, the G9X also of­fers a great video mode, and I got a crack­ing video of the big fi­nale shark feed we did with Stuart Cove’s Dive Ba­hamas on the day be­fore we left.

Ross stalks a li­on­fish

Ross’ mod­el­ling ses­sion with Stuart

Shoot­ing Stuart on the plane wreck

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