Mark is a friend of 2 Guys and sent us these images and story of how he got started in underwater photography. As someone who thinks an excellent scuba experience is watching “Jaws” with a large bag of popcorn, I found Mark’s images and narrative fascinating. Enjoy!
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For most of my life I was never really a photographer. Like most Americans I had a camera and took pictures on vacation and Christmas but that was about it. After doing a discover scuba dive in Mexico while on vacation in 1997 I was hooked, and as soon as I got back home I enrolled in a open water course and booked my next trip to Cozumel. A couple of years later I bought a camera and underwater housing. It was then that I started to look at photography as more then just a way to capture a moment but as a way to capture an emotion or feeling. It was the ability for me to take people to a place they had never been.
I have found that underwater photography has many challenges that most people take for granted when taking pictures on land. I’ve spent a few years now improving my skills to overcome these challenges as well as learning to shoot in manual mode and upgrading my equipment. In underwater photography a flash is called a strobe and I use two Ikelite strobes and have my Panasonic GH2 in a 10Bar underwater housing. Light does not penetrate water very far so the deeper you go the more colors you loose so bringing your own light is critical to getting a good shot. Most water is organic and by that I mean there is a lot of stuff floating around and by stuff I mean fish poop ;-). The strobe tends to light this “stuff” up and cause scatter in pictures so it important to get as close to your subject as possible. I’ve found the two best lenses for this are macro and wide angle.
The above shot is of a Napoleon Wrasse. They can get up to 400LBS. and are the largest of the tropical reef fish. They are a gentle giant of the reef and are shy so getting close to one is a challenge in itself. This shot was taken with my now deceased Olympus 8080 using a 22mm equivalent wide angle lens and 2 Ikelite DS125 strobes. Like most wildlife photography the key is to not spook the subject. Underwater this often means holding your breath because the bubbles are loud to fish and tend to spook most of them.
This big eyed little guy was a challenge and at about 6 inches long required macro. Getting a fish to look at you and not turn away before you can take the picture is a combo of skill and luck. With you, the water and your subject almost always moving it can take some time to hone your skills. The shot is soft and is a good example of how my personal expectations have changed over the last few years. I would not keep this if I shot it today but Ed saw it on our web page and liked it. (Note from Ed: You bet I liked it — if I saw that while diving, I’d be on the beach in 10 seconds!! Of course, that’s before I knew it was six inches long!)
On the other hand, this shot was taken at The Grotto on Saipan with the M4/3’s Panasonic GH2, Lumix 45mm macro lens and Iklite DS161 strobe earlier this year and is an example of how my own personal expectations have increased as I have improved my photography.
Always on the lookout for an opportunity to move closer to the water and maybe someplace a little warmer, I was thrilled when my employer had an opening on the island of Saipan. My friends were all very jealous when I told them that we would be moving to Micronesia. Now at 50 years old, I get to dive every week and can take pictures as often as I like. My wife Tammy is great at finding the small stuff and helps me all the time. You can look at more of my work at http://www.underexposed.us
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Thanks Mark for contributing to 2 Guys Photo. Mark has many more images on his site so please be sure to visit. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and constructive comments on Mark’s images below.
If you’d like to be featured on 2 Guys, please email us your images with commentary and we’ll do our best to get you published !
And thanks for visiting 2 Guys Photo. Posted by Ed