Underwater Photography Essay Research Paper Since the

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Underwater Photography Essay, Research Paper Since the development of the Aqualung by Jacques Cousteau and Emil Gagnan in 1943, we have been able to stay underwater safely and comfortably for extended periods of time. This amazing technological breakthrough allows us to discover, explore, and photograph the wonders of the underwater world. It was one of the first challenges underwater pioneers, such as Cousteau, faced was capturing the beauty and mystique of this foreign world on film in order to share it with those unable to see it for themselves. This challenge has been answered over the past fifty years, in both still and motion pictures. Today, television and cable audiences can frequently find a documentary or special about an aspect of the underwater world. What makes

the underwater world so intriguing and appealing to photographers? First, it truly is another world – a world of motion and tranquillity. Like outer space, it offers photographers a sense of adventure, the thrill of discovery, and the promise of excitement. The underwater world also appeals to photographers because its natural state seems so foreign to ours. In part, this reflects tremendous differences between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Land environments are dominated by plant life, while the underwater environments are dominated by animal species. When we describe land environments, we refer to grasslands, redwood forests, and oak tree groves. When we describe underwater environments, we refer to coral reefs, oyster flats, and mussel beds. In addition, the animals

photographers encounter underwater often have unusual, if not bizarre, shapes and colors that provide a never-ending supply of photographic subjects. Land objects, which take on an entirely different nature and sometimes increase in value when submerged, can be excellent “foreign” underwater photography objects. Objects such as doorknobs, old nails, and bottles are usually termed junk, but they are considered treasures after resting at the bottom of a body of water for a decade or two. The broken hull of a lifeless ship sixty feet below the surface is another intriguing photo opportunity that lures many photographers into the water. Although the fundamentals of land photography – like measuring light, calculating exposure, focusing, framing, and composing – are

essentially the same fundamentals applied in underwater photography, the challenge of capturing images on film underwater lies in dealing with the constraints of the underwater environment. First the photographer has to master the skill of scuba diving. Mastering this exhilarating sport is essential to mastering underwater photography. The aquatic realm imposes some unusual environmental constraints on both camera and diver alike. The relatively poor clarity of water as a medium in which to photograph, and the loss of and change in the quality of available light underwater are the most serious constraints. Environmental constraints also require photographers to develop and sharpen their organizational and planning skills, which make or break any attempt at underwater photography.

The steps it takes in order to simply get to the subject are often complex, involving events beyond anyone’s control. For example, when an electronic flash fails underwater, a photographer cannot simply reach into their equipment case and pull out another one. Replacing the flash unit requires them to alert their diving companion, get back on the boat, take off most of the gear it originally took them a half an hour to put on, find a dry place to work on the equipment, and the get back in the water. Being unable to change film underwater is the best example of a photographic environmental constraint that requires careful planning. On land, photographers usually take this simple procedure for granted, but it is a significant part of preparations for an underwater shoot. On the