Monday, June 29, 2009

Great White Sharks in South Australia

I spent last week in South Australia, photographing great white sharks with Andrew Fox and crew from Rodney Fox Shark Adventures. We had as many as 9 sharks in a single day, and more importantly, "players" (sharks that come close enough to the dome for effective photography) every day!

The ultra-close bite shots came from my SEACAM polecam system, all the better to keep my fingers intact. The rest were done from a cage at the surface, or their unique subsurface cage which put us on the seafloor in 50 - 80 feet of water watching the sharks in their native habitat.

The reason the sharks come to North Neptune Island is for the colony of New Zealand fur seals who live and birth their pups here. The fact that it is so good for shark photography is a happy coincidence.

Special thanks to Andrew and crew for providing the stellar photo ops! The pictures of me at work were either by Ana Maria Avila (polecam on inflatable) or Ian Lauder (underwater shots of me with housing).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II video, with firmware upgrade
Above is a link to the 5D Mark II video I shot last week on Snapper Ledge, specifically to test manual exposure control with the new firmware upgrade. Notice brackets from underexposure to overexposure, on the fly while rolling.

Very powerful technology. I look forward to some video captures next week with great white sharks in South Australia.

Thanks to Frazier Nivens,, for the editing and vimeo upload.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Key Largo Digital Master Class - Some New Images

Key Largo may offer the greatest UW photo-diversity in this hemisphere. It remains an awesome place for me to teach my photo seminars. This year again with the extraordinary help of Eddie Tapp teaching the Photoshop seminars, Chuckie Luzier from Canon providing helpful technical assistance, and Mike White as an all-around go-to-guy.

It was a wonderful week with an outstanding group of students!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sigma 8mm lens on Canon 5DII, Seacam housing

Today we are wrapping up my Digital Master class in Key Largo. Great diving all week and a wonderful bunch of students to dive with. My daughter Alexa even came out on the boat for a few days, and you'll see her in the UW photos posted here.

One of the very nice things about this class is that the diving is so easy, and there are soooo many fish, that it is easy to experiment and still be productive. Earlier in the week I tried out the new Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens, and today I shot some circular fisheyes with the Sigma 8mm.

Of course, for it to be truly circular, it needs to be a full frame digital camera. It was designed for film cameras after all, so a cropped sensor camera doesn't do a good job. But, mounted on my Canon 5DII, it provided an interesting perspective. I had to take the removable sunshades off the Seacam superdome, so the shade would not vignette, but that is a 2 minute fix. Just remove 6 allen screws.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Canon 17mm Tilt-Shift lens Underwater for First Time

I am teaching a photo course in Key Largo this week, and as we are in the water so much during the seminar, it provides an opportunity for me to try some experimentation. Also, since we are fortunate enough to have Canon technical wizard Chuckie Luzier join us for these courses, I get to play with some very interesting new Canon equipment as well.

Today's project was housing the unique Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens. While underwater was never likely in any engineer's mind in creating this lens (it is primarily for architectural photography) it is a very sharp 17mm prime lens, a focal length very useful for me.

The downside to using it underwater is that it is manual focus only, and because of the tilt and shift controls, adding even a manual focus gear would be tough. But, I guessed at where the focus should be according to the dome's virtual image, and really had very nice performance with the lens. If Seacam ever offers an option to actually focus the lens manually via the housing (the tilt knob will likely be the issue, as that is taller than the position of the focus gear), I'd seriously consider making it a go-to for wide angle work. Not that many would actually buy the lens exclusively to use underwater, but I can see a lot of topside applications for the lens, and if I owned it of course I'd want to use it underwater too. It truly is a beautiful piece of glass!

Intuitively, I tried the Seacam superdome, a 9" mineral glass wide angle port, in conjunction with a 35mm port extension, which actually worked out quite well for subjects 2 feet to infinity.