Saturday, July 11, 2015

Underwater Photography

As a portrait photographer, I do an ongoing series called
"Vintage Val" using a gorgeous mom of  two named Val.

We shoot a themed session every season and for summer
I bought her a 50's red and white 'bikini' for
our photo session at my neighbor's pool.

Then I got the wild idea of shooting some of the photos

After the idea came into my mind, I was on a mission to find a
camera that could shoot underwater and not cost much.

I decided on the Nikon CoolPix S33 that I bought for $119
on Amazon.

I read the reviews, and figured it would at least hold up for
this ONE photo shoot...and it really did work GREAT.

Yes, you will need those goggles!

I read the simple instructions and practiced with the camera at
a friend's wedding.  It's a point and shoot, so it is very easy to work and to
compose the photo on the back screen rather than looking 
through the eye piece as with a DSLR.

We shot on a sunny evening in mid July at 6:30pm
with the sun shining directly into the pool for good light.

As we got started, I had the bright idea of having Val 
on a raft while I went underwater
and shot her from below looking into the water.

This camera also shoots video, so for my
first plunge, I took this video and you can see I
totally FAILED!    Ha ha!

I got Val off the raft and we dunked down a few times,
and talk about hilarious...I was pretty much thrashing around
underwater, clicking the camera aimlessly!

My biggest problem was, I kept floating to the surface and
struggled to hold the camera steady.

Plus, I was up way too close.
I was actually THRILLED to get this shot and figured
if I didn't get another in focus, I would at least have this ONE shot...ha ha!!

After several times of thrashing about,
we both got our bearings.   I found I did best when I was
standing in water about  three inches below my shoulders.

We counted to three and both submerged at the same time.
I went underwater slowly with my camera steadied in both
hands with my finger on the shutter ready to click.  
This gave me much more control.

I also didn't go too far down, so I wasn't floating up as much.

I wasn't getting anything good yet, but at least a few
were in focus.  These were taken in shallow water
so lots of light was shining on us.

Then I got this pretty shot!

I felt she didn't look like she was underwater,
so I instructed Val to breathe out slowly through
her nose to get some bubbles.

But, I kept cutting off body parts, so she
ventured into the deep end.

I was further away to get her full body.
We lost clarity...yet found a rhythm that

Val could even start deliberately posing.

Who besides Val can elegantly pose and still
look beautiful UNDERWATER???

To best hold the camera steady,
I concentrated on getting just ONE quality shot during 
each plunge.  The camera had a slight ANNOYING I concentrated
on quickly framing the photo and holding it steady for ONE SHOT!

I also got water in both ears, so when I got home, I used my
trusty ear drops my doctor suggested when I was little girl with swimmer's ear.

Ear Drops for Water in the Ear
Equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar
4 drops in each ear, then shake out water

You can see the loss of clarity
and color the further I was from Val, but I LOVE these photos!

As we were finishing, we did these close-up shots
with her face half in the water.

You can get incredible clarity just below the surface
where there is lots of light.

In post processing, all the photos were noisy, so I had to
de-noise in Lightroom...or you can do it in Photoshop.

I ran an action and added contrast.

I wanted to share our adventure because I think this would
be FUN to try this with your kids and it doesn't require
a huge investment for the camera.

Thanks so much, Val for being a great sport and model!!!

Bye bye makeup...


  1. Love, love this shoot!!! Val doesn't look old enough to have a son that age! Thanks for sharing these photos!

  2. Thanks, Carol! Actually, the "cabana boy" is my neighbor's son...we used my neighbor's pool for the shoot. I went back and clarified!

  3. I love this post and it makes me want to run out and try this. So kind of you to share the experiment and how to do with us. Thank you Jill
    I think you need to do a cabana boy shoot:)