I’ve just completed a shoot that I’ve been planning for a while and I thought it would make a good choice for another anatomy.
Previously I’ve described shoots in which I was working towards a very specific end result – this is the most common scenario for a commercial photographer. In this case however the shoot was less restrictive – I was aiming to get 2 or 3 strong images for my portfolio and to gain more personal experience with underwater sports photography.
Planning and preshoot
Even though the shoot would have less structure than usual it still needed planning if it was to be successful. I needed to find a location, a model, and most importantly I needed to create a rough shot list.
For the location I used a private swimming pool that was in a particularly nice setting, and via a contact a I was able to find a swimmer from a local club who was both very good at her sport and enthusiastic about the photography. For the shot list it was just a case of sitting down, thinking, reading, browsing and generally trying to find inspiration. Even though I was prepared to experiment on set I knew that the shoot day would be a catastrophe if I didn’t at least have some starting points for shot ideas.
I also planned a pre-shoot day with a stand-in model (also known as my lovely – and expecting – wife). The pre-shoot in this case was very important, allowing me to:
- Check my equipment and make sure that the waterproof housing (a Ewa-marine SLR bag) was, indeed, waterproof.
- Experiment with shooting techniques. For example I wanted to know if I was better of trying to hold my breath or go the whole hog and bring diving equipment into the pool.
- Understand how natural light was going to effect my shots so that I could choose the best time of day based on this.
- Make sure that I had everything that I needed.
- Get more inspiration for the shot list.
- Experiment with post processing. Knowing ahead of time how I wanted my final images to look would help me when shooting for real.
Based on the pre-shoot I planned the shoot for the early afternoon. This is usually the worst time photographically since the Sun is high in the sky and produces unflattering shadows, however in this case the high Sun would produce lighting effects that had inspired me during the test. The pool was equipped with a jet that kept the surface moving, thus casting amazing patterns onto the walls and swimmer.
I arrived an hour early to set up. As usual I brought along some home made food – a fed model is a happy model. Same goes for the photographer….
The model arrived with a selection of costumes and once again the pre-shoot had given me some useful insights that allowed me to choose the best option. While experimenting with my post-processing options I had decided that I was going to take the tonalities slightly green. The lime-green costume was therefore an obvious choice.
We shot for 3 hours (with breaks) and covered most of the ideas that I had noted.
As I’ve stated previously, post-processing is a vital part of my photographic skill set; it allows me to deliver images in a personal style that’s simply not possible directly from the camera.
With underwater photography, however, post-processing becomes absolutely imperative – images direct from the camera lack contrast and, for lack of a better word, oomph. Following the test shoot I has already experimented with toning options, and I spent more time refining this for the final set of images.
To my mind the result is more interesting than a colour correct image and is also more indicative of my personal style.
Here are some of my favorite images from the shoot…