Waterworld

Monday, August 11, 2008




Last weekend I was swimming in the ocean and as I looked towards the shore people were arranged in groups and posed in mid-action in ways that struck me from my watery perspective as views I had never seen before. Beaches have long been a favorite shooting spot for numerous photographers – Elliott Erwitt, Eric Fischl, Weegee, Robert Frank, Joel Meyerowitz, Richard Misrach, and Massimo Vitale are just a few who come to mind – but because of the obvious technical difficulties none of these photographers have ever shot from the water. So I thought, here’s an opening, and decided this would be a fun end of summer project.

The first challenge was to find an appropriate camera and as it turns out, Pentax have just released a new digital underwater camera, the Optio W60, which is billed as a great knock-around little camera. It's waterproof down to 13 feet, sand and scratch-proof, has a 5x zoom, and can be found for under $300. It also uses the standard SD memory card. As I hate the idea of taking my regular camera to the beach for fear of ruining it, this seemed like a sensible addition to my camera collection and therefore a justifiable expense.

So this weekend, and under the most favorable conditions imaginable,
I headed into the water with my new toy. Once immersed I realized there were a few immediate and rather serious challenges. The first was that in the water it’s impossible to hold the camera or frame the picture with any great accuracy as the waves and swell have you in constant motion. Secondly, the W60 has a noticeable time lag between pressing the button and snapping the picture. So clearly luck was also going to be an element (which I guess is always the case with any kind of spontaneous as opposed to controlled photographic situation). Finally, it occurred to me that if you’re a lone male swimmer, you might want to think twice about taking pictures of strangers in bikinis. While this seemed like a promising angle with great commercial potential, for reasons of propriety I demurred.

Anyway, here are the results of my first foray into the water - my best 4 snaps edited from about 30 taken. (Click to enlarge.)


The Pentax Optio W60







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