Posts Tagged ‘underwater’

Cheng Han Pursues His Inner Captain Nemo

Cheng Han is the type of person who once he gets something into his head, he won’t let it go until it becomes real, at least when it comes to photography. And the funny thing is, up until not that long ago, photography for Cheng Han was merely a function of recording domestic life.

A visit to his website reveals an artist who is serious about the visual quality of his end products. His environmental studio and location portraits simply cannot be glossed over – each of his multifaceted images requires a careful once over… maybe two.

"Together"

“Together” © Cheng Han

Putting the geek and emotional sides together is the gist of Cheng Han’s photographic personality. “I’m basically a geek and the geek side of me likes puzzles. The creative side of me really enjoys producing surreal images that generate emotional responses… at least on my part, and I hope on the part of others who look at my pictures.”

Cheng is fascinated in creating technically challenging photographs, but when he decided to take his photographic odyssey underwater, he had no idea what he was getting into. (According to Cheng, his notebook contains over 200 production notes.)

At Peace

“At Peace” © Cheng Han

Right off he knew he wanted to include swaths of fabrics entwined around and/or about his models. eBay turned into a good source of fabric samples, not to mention lighting manufacturers he called on to see how their diffusion materials and backdrops would hold up underwater. He then had to see which of these fabrics were color-fast because the last thing he wanted was to tie-dye somebody’s swimming pool. (His first attempt with a red surplus parachute almost resulted in a nasty red stain along the lining of the pool ,which fortunately dissipated before Cheng had to drain clean, and refill the pool.)

Cheng Han’s goal was to create environmental portraits complete with models, make-up, costumes, backgrounds, and lights just as he would in a studio… but all partially or entirely underwater, utilizing the unique ethereal effect of weightlessness underwater in ways that cannot be replicated on land.

Cheng readily acknowledges outside influences. ‘Together’, an image of a woman wrapped in swirling silky material while floating embryo-like in a blue void of fabric and water was inspired by a scene in the movie ‘Gravity’, when Sandra Bullock enters an abandoned spacecraft and momentarily floats curled up as if she was in the womb.

To Be No More

“To Be No More” © Cheng Han

 

In a bid for camaraderie, Cheng goes below the surface with the models in all of the underwater pictures. “It wasn’t easy for anyone – take a breath, go underwater, get into position, avoid hitting the lights, pose, open eyes, focus, shoot, and resurface – all while not breathing.”

The camera and lighting part of the equation is equally challenging, the biggest problem being wireless communication between electronic flash systems positioned both below and above the waterline.

“There’s a lot of information available about underwater flash for photographing sea life and wireless flash on land, but there’s not much information about syncing studio flash above water with underwater flash simultaneously.  And then one day Jean Bruneau, the tech advisor for Aquatica, suggested I look into PocketWizards”.

In conventional underwater photography, the Ikelite underwater flash units would be hardwired to his camera’s Ikelite underwater camera housing and mounted in a series of cumbersome & heavy arms. The challenge was triggering the Elinchrom Quadra flash units that were poised above water along the flanks of the pool. Standard optical and radio remote procedures proved erratic if they worked at all.

Inversion (1)

“Inversion” © Cheng Han

Cheng’s solution was to run a hard-wired sync cord from his camera’s Ikolite flash housing up above the waterline where it was coupled to a PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver. Each Ikelite underwater flash and one of the Quadras were also individually connected to PocketWizard tranceivers via sync cords also above the waterline. The signal from the camera’s transceiver could then trigger all the lighting simultaneously. Any additional Quadras were triggered optically.

Cheng Han - Purgatory

“Purgatory” © Cheng Han

In most of the images the Elinchroms are the main lights and the underwater Ikolite flash units, which are often gelled for atmospheric effects, are for fill. In other cases, the Ikolites are the main light source and the Elinchroms are used for fill. The setup Cheng used allowed total freedom to position lighting with the same freedom you would have in a conventional studio.

Cheng Han - Carmen 01

“Carmen” © Cheng Han

Currently Cheng is trying to further push his boundaries by attempting to construct even more complex sets for use underwater with the goal of making the underwater aspect of the photographs secondary to the look and flavor of his photographs.

And a box of donuts says PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers will be an integral part of his lighting system.

To learn more about Cheng Han’s work, visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Cheng Han, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

 

 

 

 

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Tom Bol’s Underwater FlexTT5

Tom Bol - Underwater FlexTT5

© 2012 Tom Bol

 

We don’t know what possessed photographer Tom Bol to give his speedlights the cement shoe treatment and sink them to the bottom of a river, but we do know that experimentation is always a good excuse to do something just a little bit crazy.

He starts out by giving the speedlights just a taste of what awaits them, by putting them in ziplock bags and placing them in the bow, stern, and middle of the kayak that his wife, Cree, paddles out into the middle of the river. “In order for these flashes to fire,” he writes, “I used PocketWizard FlexTT5’s as receivers on all the SB900s. The radio signal triggers flashes in the boat, no line of sight needed.” Using an AC3 ZoneController, Tom sets all the flashes to group A and fires away. The result is a glowing, yellow kayak.

(more…)

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Adam Richins’ New Kind of Underwater Work

It’s no surprise PocketWizards are not meant to be used underwater. Photographer Daniel Houghton recently defied the odds by using a PocketWizard Plus II underwater. This is not recommended under any circumstances by PocketWizard, but Pocono Record photographer Adam Richins has found a unique workaround to get some underwater shots while utilizing his PocketWizard gear.

Assigned to shoot a swim meet, his employer didn’t have the budget to buy an underwater housing for his Nikon, so Richins got inventive. Borrowing a fish tank from a colleague, he floated it in the water, and shot through the tank’s glass while lying at the side of the pool. Simple, but genius.

Don’t forget, PocketWizard makes no provisions for units which get wet. Be careful with your gear!

Click here to see a gallery of the images Richins shot, including one of the fish tank setup. Click here for the full article authored by Richins and detailing all his gear and how he put the shots together.

See more of Richins’ work on his site. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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Daniel Houghton in the Water

Bowling Green, Kentucky photographer Daniel Houghton recently posted about something we don’t recommend. He was able to use PocketWizard Plus II units to fire his Profoto heads underwater. Yes. Underwater.

Back in October he photographed open-water marathoner Mallory Meade. After shooting Meade from a boat as she swam in a lake, they moved the photo shoot to an Olympic-sized pool. Houghton got underwater and was able to fire his Profoto heads with his PocketWizards submerged.

PocketWizard radios utilize a high frequency radio signal transmitted on at a very low power, which work great when the radios are transmitting through air. Unfortunately, the requirements for a reliable system underwater is the exact opposite of this. You’d need a very high powered, low-frequency transmitter to get any sort of reliable range (think military submarine or whales). In the limited testing we’ve attempted with our radios underwater, your triggering distance would most likely be measured in inches or centimeters instead of meters or feet. PocketWizard does not recommend submerging your equipment in water of any kind.

Be sure to read the full post here, along with the rest of Houghton’s work.

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