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Phil AbrahamOffline

Swimming with a camera … Deliberately!

July 21, 2021

The Plan. The day didn’t start with a swim as part of the plan, however when an update arrived from the Wild Seas Centre (my ‘seaside office) advising of amazing condition, calm and clear, it slipped in as a good way to wind up a scorching day. Batteries charged, camera housing prepared, camera controls reprised and initial setting input. Tucked into a bag along with a range of snorkelling kit it was off to Kimmeridge in the calm before the rush hour. The Kit. The kit used was fairly minimalist, I could have just gone with the Panasonic tough camera, my ‘go to’ wet pursuits camera, but I find it lacks low light capability, and even on a bright sunny day the light levels sub surface soon fall off. So the next step up on the minimalist approach is a better specified compact in an underwater housing. Over the years I have had a number of the Canon ‘G’ series Powershot compacts, only replaced when they die or are killed (oops!). The current one, a G5X is a sound performer, still not a low light lover but for the price good enough. The housing by Ikelight is camera specific, even allowing the Canon eTTL system to control an external strobe. The Action The bay was very lightly populated, with the majority of the visitors not bothering to walk beyond a stone’s throw from the beach entrance. That suited my plan well as I dislike leaving my bag on a busy beach and the are I was working from had three other couples, one pair being a photographer on a one to one with Dorset’s landscape guru, Guy Edwardes. It is easy to see why the bay receives a lot of photographic attention. It is pleasing to say that the water was around 17C! So, for the first time, the first flush of water through the wetsuit didn’t take my breath away. In fact I was over-suited (thanks Howard) but better warm and wet, than shivering. So after around two blissful hours of marine meandering it was time to leave the water, primarily as the bay shuts to the public at 20:00. The Outcome At first glance the images are a little lack lustre But a quick run through LR with some general dehaze adjustment, and some localised tweaks, a final run through Topaz AI to manage the noise inherent to small sensors and high iso (well, high for a compact) Some subjects are almost grab shots such as the crab and fish, but the seaweeds and slower moving fauna give the opportunity to move the camera around the subject to use the sunlight that provides some fascinating light conditions beyond just front light and backlight. Light rays and refracted rainbows are two of the most obvious. There was even time for a little Arty interpretation … Take an over exposed image of light penetrating slightly ‘soupy water’ apply a little dehaze, tweak the levels, apply some selective exposure and saturation and Robert is your father’s brother …one impressionistic underwater image… or is it the Northern Lights? Health and Safety note. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the perceived wisdom is that you should not snorkel alone, however prior knowledge of the bay meant I knew that the area I was planning on swimming in was never more than a stroke or two from being able to stand up, and that the tide was on the fall with a subsequent 1m reduction in depth. Also the bay is not subject to rip currents in all but the most extreme circumstances , and those are certainly not conducive to swimming!! Thanks for reading, I hope it was of interest

My camera is in the water … Deliberately!

July 21, 2021

The Plan. The day didn’t start with a swim as part of the plan, however when an update arrived from the Wild Seas Centre (my ‘seaside office) advising of amazing condition, calm and clear, it slipped in as a good way to wind up a scorching day. Batteries charged, camera housing prepared, camera controls reprised and initial setting input. Tucked into a bag along with a range of snorkelling kit it was off to Kimmeridge in the calm before the rush hour. The Kit. The kit used was fairly minimalist, I could have just gone with the Panasonic tough camera, my ‘go to’ wet pursuits camera, but I find it lacks low light capability, and even on a bright sunny day the light levels sub surface soon fall off. So the next step up on the minimalist approach is a better specified compact in an underwater housing. Over the years I have had a number of the Canon ‘G’ series Powershot compacts, only replaced when they die or are killed (oops!). The current one, a G5X is a sound performer, still not a low light lover but for the price good enough. The housing by Ikelight is camera specific, even allowing the Canon eTTL system to control an external strobe. The Action The bay was very lightly populated, with the majority of the visitors not bothering to walk beyond a stone’s throw from the beach entrance. That suited my plan well as I dislike leaving my bag on a busy beach and the are I was working from had three other couples, one pair being a photographer on a one to one with Dorset’s landscape guru, Guy Edwardes. It is easy to see why the bay receives a lot of photographic attention. It is pleasing to say that the water was around 17C! So, for the first time, the first flush of water through the wetsuit didn’t take my breath away. In fact I was over-suited (thanks Howard) but better warm and wet, than shivering. So after around two blissful of marine meandering it was time to leave the water, primarily as the bay shuts to the public at 20:00. The Outcome At first glance the images are a little lack lustre But a quick run through LR with some general dehaze adjustment, and some localised tweaks, delivers the image, and after a final run through Topaz AI to manage the noise inherent to small sensors and high iso (well, high for a compact Some subjects are almost grab shots such as the crab and fish at best nervous, but often skittish! However other such as seaweeds and slower moving fauna give the opportunity to move the camera around the subject to use the sunlight that provides some fascinating light conditions beyond just front light and backlight. Light rays and refracted rainbows are two of the most obvious … and there is even an opportunity to get arty … The base image is a fairly mundane shot of light rays through the water, overexposed to reduce any noise issues in the planned editing … but with  strong use of some of the light room tools this impressionistic image results These is jus the results of a re-familiarisation swim with the camera, when the next opportunity arises a very different target is waiting in the bay If you have got this far I hope this has been of some interest. Thanks for reading Health and Safety note. Now, perceived wisdom is that you should not snorkel alone, however prior knowledge of the bay meant I knew that the area I was planning on swimming in was never more than a stroke or two from being able to stand up, and that the tide was on the fall with a subsequent 1m further reduction in depth over the next few hours. Also the bay is not subject to rip currents in all but the most extreme circumstances , and those are certainly not conducive to swimming!!

Inspired by talk of Narrative …

February 24, 2021

The Tuesday night Buzz-Zoom got the cogs whirring, all that talk of narrative took me back to the years spent at the Bournemouth Arts Institute back in the Noughties …. Narrative, Semiotics, Visual Voice, it all came sliding out of the mental box marked ‘Photo Theory”, about two rows down from the ‘Nothing’ box. It got me thinking …. So this morning I fired up the Mac and picked an event that hadn’t really been edited since uploaded. The chosen event had been a serendipitous personal project, come across by happenstance, one element of a couple of weeks travelling through the Outer Hebrides, one of series of trips from a busy year. However, its moment had arrived, Lightroom booted, files opened, a ‘cold’ view of what had been a really wonderful community event allowed for a dispassionate edit of the files. Five years away from them allowed a critical eye to roam and evaluate where, closer in, the still fresh emotions attached to the event would have diluted the process. The resulting five images hopefully say all they need to about a traditional community event that welcomed outsiders with a warmth lost in larger communities. The Clans gathered Lost in the moment Under Expert eyes Giving his all The Objects of Desire   Thanks for popping by, let me know how this worked for you (or how it didn’t)

Inspired by Narrative

February 24, 2021

The Tuesday night Buzz-Zoom got the cogs whirring, all that talk of narrative took me back to the years spent at the Bournemouth Arts Institute back in the Noughties …. Narrative, Semiotics, Visual Voice, it all came sliding out of the mental box marked ‘Photo Theory”, about two rows down from the ‘Nothing’ box.  It got me thinking …. So this morning I fired up the Mac and picked an event that hadn’t really been edited since uploaded. The chosen event had been a serendipitous personal project, come across by happenstance, one element of a couple of weeks travelling through the Outer Hebrides, one of series of trips from a busy year. However, its moment had arrived, Lightroom booted, files opened, a ‘cold’ view of what had been a really wonderful community event allowed for a dispassionate edit of the files. Five years away from them allowed a critical eye to roam and evaluate where, closer in, the still fresh emotions attached to the event would have diluted the process.   The resulting five images hopefully say all they need to about a traditional community event that welcomed outsiders with a warmth lost in larger communities. lost in the emotion . Judgement Giving his all The objects of desire Thanks for popping by, let me know how this worked for you (or how it didn’t)