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 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 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.
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!!
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