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Posts from the ‘Photography’ Category

Olympus Pen – E-PL2 Lesson & Dive

The arrival of a new camera is always a bitter-sweet event for me. I look forward to playing with my new camera but fear having to learn the advanced operational features of the new equipment. The Fuji X100 I bought at the TDSI charity auction is a good example. It’s a classic retro looking rangefinder type camera that looks like the film street cameras that photojournalists used before the advent of digital. When I finally cracked the box I went through the manual with camera in hand but then purchase an e-book on the advanced features of the book. I am still learning how to use it!

With the Olympus given to me by my colleagues; I decided I had better go back to school. Not only do I have to learn the features of the new camera, but I have to learn about the features of the waterproof  housing, the strobe and the massive adjustable arm that connects to the camera. The guy that built the Canada Arm for the space shuttle may have used that as the prototype before designing the strobe arm.  The most important part of the process is the care of the underwater housing and strobe to ensure that the o-rings are absolutely spotless and are properly greased to ensure a watertight seal. If these fail underwater you can kiss your expensive equipment goodbye.

Much of this was explained when I picked up the equipment but I decided that a more formal lesson including a dive to take pictures and then evaluate them was needed.  The lesson included a refresher on the care of the housing during which I had to inspect and clean the housing, grease and inspect the o-rings with a magnifying glass, assemble everything and then place everything in a fresh water tank to ensure there are no leaks. A colleague in the USA has an expression, always use the 5Ps – proper preparation prevents piss poor performance!

Next came the theory for under-water photography and lighting. I know a fair bit about photography but I quickly realized there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, my wonderful instructor Adeline (Addy) is very patient and knowledgeable about the Pen E-PL2.  The main message is get close to your subject and then get closer. Shoot, evaluate the picture, modify the camera settings, change your position relative to the subject and the position of  the strobe as needed and shoot again. Repeat previous steps until you get the results you desire. Luckily we are in the digital age and get instant gratification after we press the shutter and get as many do-overs as we wish. Film photographers had it much, much harder . They would normally be limited to 36 pictures which then had to be taken to the lab which could take hours or days to see the results.

The underwater session was incredible. After donning our equipment it was time to jump in and do a few test shots. This is Eddie my instructor. 

I had imagined that we would shoot everything that moved to test out the camera. However that was not to be. Eddy armed with an underwater slate picked out about four subjects for me to concentrate on. After each shot I would get new written instructions, change F- stop, change shutter speed, get closer, go lower, get closer. Upon reflection, there is no better way to learn about underwater photography and the capabilities of the new equipment.

After the dive it was back to the classroom to review and critique the pictures I has taken. I had taken about 75 pictures and luckily got a few that were deemed ok. It was very educational to see the effect that various camera settings and strobe placement had on the pictures. It’s now up to me to keep playing with the camera before I go for another lesson.

For anyone visiting Grand Cayman and interested in learning about underwater photography, I highly recommended Cathy Church’s Photo centre. Cathy is the queen of underwater photography and has won awards to numerous too mention. Her team is great and can provide exceptional hands on experience. You can even rent high-end photo equipment.

If you visit the store be sure to say hi to Sparky, the African Grey parrot owned by Cathy & her husband.