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Ulla Lohmann


Taking the plunge with the PowerShot G16

By Ulla Lohmann, Donnerstag August 14, 2014

© Ulla Lohmann

Ever packed for a two month long photo and film expedition into a remote area? If so, you will agree there is a lot of stuff to bring along. The scales already showed over 70kgs when I decided that I absolutely needed one underwater photograph to supplement my upcoming story for GEO Saison. But what to do? There was no way to also take a bulky, heavy underwater housing for my EOS 5D Mark III. Canon helped me out once more: they gave me a PowerShot G16 in a small, yet very robust looking, housing. I could not wait to be in the South Pacific to jump in the water with it.

From the very first dive, I instantly got along with the camera and the housing. In the water, I was able to operate all essential buttons easily - I could even photograph manually. The small built-in flash also worked great, thanks to a flash diffuser. The housing is good for up to 40 metre [deep] dives but I got the best results in the shallows, where there is still lots of available light. A function on the G16 I found very handy was the underwater white balance setting. It mainly adds more reddish colour to the image, which is lost first with the depth. To be honest, the images turned out to be truly beautiful!

If you ever think of taking the plunge yourself with a compact camera underwater, and you've never done it before, then I have following tips for you:

1) Go close to your subject - colours and sharpness are lost quickly in the water.

2) Compose your image like you would do on land: foreground, middle ground, background and, again, go close to your foreground.

3) Like on land, try to be on the same level of things you shoot - no matter if it is a cat or a coral. The underwater world looks at its best if it's not photographed from the top, but when it shows dimensions and depth.

4) Use your flash when diving deeper, especially for close-up subjects, or photograph in the shallows, where there is more light available.

5) To avoid back scatter, try not to stir up a lot of sand; practice your diving skills or shoot without flash if you can. If you do so, shoot with the sun at your back.

I never thought that I would one day take a compact camera for underwater images, but I have to admit that the quality is actually very good - just find out for yourself and enjoy!

© Ulla Lohmann