Monday, May 17, 2010

Project 63

Having decided that I cannot wait to photograph the Oktoberfest and accompanying parades for this project I had to come up with an alternative subject for a narrative essay.  The solution was to create a set of images narrating a day diving during my recent holiday in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The biggest challenge I found was that it was very difficult to photograph an activity that you yourself are participating in.  Diving is a technical activity and requires careful preparation prior to going into the water.  Balancing getting my kit together and getting an SLR in underwater housing onto a boat without damage, with taking photographs of the process was difficult.  The final challenge is that salt water and electronics do not mix and a wet dive boat and wet photographer can terminate a photo session quite quickly.  The lesson here is to either be the subject or the photographer, not both!

However, I persevered and have generated a set of images mixing above and below water photographs.  All images were taken using a Canon EOS 40D, one maintained purely as an underwater camera.  The above water images are taken with a 15-85mm or 70-200mm zoom, all of the underwater shots are taken with a 10-22mm zoom.  On this trip most of the underwater wildlifewas macro sized and so I only took my wide angle zoom out on one day, limiting the number of shots I could take.

Every diving day starts with checking out your boat on the daily dive schedule and then getting a briefing from one of the dive masters.
Fortunately much of the heavy lifting is done for you, staff working at a dive base get a lot of exercise hauling tanks back and forth

They even put your gear together and place it onto the boat, all you need do is turn up wearing your wet suit

However, care should be taken to make sure that nothing has crawled into your dive gear, finding this guy inside your regulator would be a shock and a mouthful

The dive boats in this part of the world are large and comfortable, this one even has a working toilet (makes a change from using the big one over the side).

As the boats are quite large entry into the water is via the "giant Stride" method we all learn in training: "Heidi makes final checks before jumping"

Perfect split leg style, clearly remembering her training well.  Note that she is carefully hanging onto her mask, regulator, and hair clip, all of which can be ripped free by the impact with the water

Following impact a mass of bubbles hides all but her spare regulator ("Octopus")

Finally we get down to depth where final adjustments to equipment can be made in amongst the soft coral

The dive guides in Indonesia are all very experienced and the ratio of divers to guides is no more than 4:1, meaning that everyone gets personal attention.  Note the long stick in the guides right hand, useful for pointing, managing buoyancy and prodding various invertebrates into good locations for photographers

Arriving back at the surface the boat will quickly come and pick you up whilst offering an unusual perspective for a photo.  A good aspect of North Sulawesi is the large number of dive sites and limited number of dive bases, meaning limited boat traffic, although it is always wise to careful look for local fishing boats - the most dangerous aspect of diving is surfacing, propeller blades are very unforgiving

My final job of the day is to unload, recharge and clean my camera in the well appointed camera room

Heidi's last job of the day is a cocktail in the pool, at which a small bar appears magically after all dives for the day are finished

All that is left is to turn around and enjoy the sunset over a beer or two

This was not a sequence that readily made for a mix of photo sizes, however, I made up the following composites of the pre-dive images and the "jump".

This is a small subset of around 5,000 photographs that I took on this trip, 3,500 of which were underwater.  I will use a different set to work up the  images for assignment 5.  I also made up a 12x12" book of the complete travel and had it printed by Blurb.  This combines about 300 images in a mixture of image sizes from 12x24 inches to 3 x 5.  Perhaps this is the best Photo Narrative I can present at this time.

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