Jessica ScannellaCompare and contrast a form of photography being producedduring two different periods of timeThis essay will explore the development of underwater photographyfrom 1893 to present day. It shall explore relevant photographers andinformation sourced from a range of different media types. The aim of theessay to compare, contrast and understand underwater photographyfrom its early creation to what it has become to this present day.Underwater photographers are faced with a range of difficulties, forexample water is six hundred times denser than air and is primarily blue incolour. As well as producing a proficient image, it is important to keep thecamera dry and the photographer must take their safety intoconsideration in an unfamiliar environment.It was the Bay of Banylus where the beginning of underwaterphotography evolved. Louis Boutan was a doctor of Science whoseresearch tasks gradually led his interests in the marine environment.Boutan became very familiar with using helmet-diving equipment andafter numerous dives his initial wonder of the underwater world soon ledhim to realise the potential of photography for this scientific work. Boutanbegan to act on this idea by designing and producing a camera that wascapable of taking pictures whilst diving. However after frequent attemptsBoutan decided to create a housing for an existing camera as opposedto making a waterproof camera.Boutan used a small 9x12 cameranamed ‘Detective’, which was commonly used at the time for generalphotography, into a housing. This camera had some great advantagesand adaptations that suited its use for underwater photography, forexample, it did not needed to be focused as long as the subjects werenot more than three metres away, it also had the capability of changingplates whilst underwater, this meant a lot of time and effort was saved byavoiding the return to the water’s surface to change plates. Weldedcopper plates with two portholes and two watertight controls foroperating the camera constructed the housing for the camera. Howeverthe problems caused by pressure on the housing at depth were soonpicked up by Boutan, to overcome these promblems he had the idea offitting his housing with a compensation ball that automatically balancedthe pressure within the housing with ambient water pressure. The outfit wasnot easy to handle, yet it worked. This allowed Boutan to capture imagesthat were deemed a revelation at the time, as they were the first imagestaken underwater.Once Boutan had created his housing for the camera he soondiscovered that the lighting conditions underwater were an issue, this wasbecause the light was too weak at a certain depth which required very
Jessica Scannellalong exposures which is not ideal when working underwater. Boutanfigured he needed some sort of artificial lighting to brighten his subjects.At the time it was a complex and technical issue, however Boutan wasnot disheartened, after abandoning an electrical solution, due tofinancial reasoning, he designed a method based on the oxidation ofmagnesium. His first attempt of a magnesium system was not effective, ashe had to return to the surface after every shot to replace themagnesium. His second lamp involved a barrel filled with oxygen, whichsupported a flame fulled by alcohol, a charge of magnesium powder wasthen sent onto the flame, triggering the flash. It was Boutan’s hard workand curiosity that allowed him to experiment with plenty of ideas andeventually take extraordinary underwater photos of the time.Boutan’s images and methods are a great deal different to apresent day underwater photographer such as Zena Holloway forexample. It is essential that most present day underwater photographersare expert scuba divers this is because they may be able to cope withcold temperatures, aggressive wildlife, strong currents and bad visibility.Zena Holloway is in fact a commercial diver and self taught underwaterphotographer who has a long list of clients such as Dazed & Confused,GQ, Nike, Sony, Herbal Essences and many more. The equipmentHolloway uses is much more sophisticated and advanced compared toBoutan’s equipment, for example the use of dome ports on the housing ofher camera. The optical issue of refraction in a watertight housing meansthe image coming through the glass port will be distorted, especiallywhen using wide-angle lenses. To correct this distortion, a dome-shapedport is often the solution, many manufacturers produce dome ports fortheir housings; they commonly design the dome ports to be used withparticular lenses to increase their efficiency. When lighting situationsHolloway would use flash or strobe, it is often said that the use of strobe isthe most problematic element of underwater photography;photographers would normally try to generate a balance between theavailable sunlight and the strobe. Understandably the deeper and darkerenvironments can make this balance challenging due to the lack ofsunlight available, however modern cameras have overcome this processthrough numerous automatic exposure modes and the use of ‘throughthe lens’ (TTL) metering.Colour is absorbed when travelling through water,this means the deeper the water, the less reds, yellows and orangecolours remain, and thus the strobe replaces the colour lost. Strobelighting is also an essential tool for creativity as it offers shadow andtexture; this is why Holloway uses strobe lighting, which is visible in herworks.Holloway demonstrates how much underwater photographyhad developed since 1983, she does this but no only capturing innovative,creative yet elegant images, but she also captures motion underwater.
Jessica ScannellaOnce again Holloway has done this for press and editorial purposes, yether motion picture are just as stunning and breathtaking as her stillimages. She has truly shown how much underwater technologies haveimproved since they first started by introducing different types of media tothe underwater realms.The lack of knowledge and technology of photography during 1893led to people like Boutan creating and developing the equipment usedtoday, for example, Boutan’s ideology of underwater housing for thecamera.It is clear to see the change and development of housing over time.Boutan’s housing seems bulky and a struggle to handle underwater,whereas the modern version of underwater housing looks easier to controland has a sleek appearance with more adaptions that fit with the use ofunderwater photography. The same applies to the weight of eachhousing, as boutan’s housing was constructed with welded copper, itwould have been heavier than present days housing of plastic.Boutan’s housing Modern day housing
Jessica ScannellaThis is one of Louis Boutan’sunderwater images taken in1893. To produce this image,Boutan attracted the fish to aclear panel so they were morevisible. This image is clearly usedfor documentation as it recordsthe fish underwater in therenatural environment, it alsoallows doctors of science, suchas Boutan himself, tounderstand and gainknowledge of creatures and plants to record how there existence andbehaviors. The image is shot in black and white, as colour photographyhad not yet been discovered. The overall image is effective as it providesan insight into the fish underwater, it also creates an interesting picture toview as the bold contrast of the fish’s silhouettes against the clear panelillustrate an exciting image.Zena Holloway produced this image; ithad been shot for advertising purposes andwas used by ‘Georg Jensen’, a Danishjewellery company to promote their stock.The main aim of this image is to make thejewellery look pleasing and to attract theviewer’s attention. Holloway has taken thisimage effectively as she has lit the jewellerywith precision and made the overall imagelook fashionable and suitable for theproducts being sold. The effects the waterprovides the model’s hair gives a uniquetouch, which Holloway has captured well.The two images produced by Boutan andHolloway are very different and shows howmuch underwater photography haschanged and developed. An obviousdifference is the subject and purpose of the images, Boutan’s imageswere often used for marine biologists and discovering new informationfrom the underwater world, whereas Holloway’s images are used for moreadvertising and editorial purposes so they are often images of models andbeing creative with the fabrics and the water. Another differencebetween the two images is the format, Boutan’s images was taken with afilm camera which is visible through the gainand lack of sharpness withinthe image, whereas Holloway’s image was taken on a digital camera. Anadvantage of taking an underwater image with a digital camera is that
Jessica ScannellaHolloway is able to digitally able to manipulate her images with softwaresuch as Adobe Photoshop, this allows her pictures to look a lot more neatand clean and able to discard of any unwanted elements within thepicture.When producing my images I decided to produce two modernimages in the style of Zena Holloway and the other two images to basedon an older style of Louis Boutan’s. Due to the financial cost of professionalunderwater housing equipment, I instead purchased a plastic housingbag which is secure and protects the camera for getting wet.This is one of my modernimages I attempted torecreate. I wanted toproduce an image likeZena’s that showed flowfrom the water, yetelegance that didn’tmake the scene lookunnatural. The doll’s hairportrays movement andthe flow of water aroundher; the material from thedress also does this as youcan see behind the doll.From studying Zena’s workI had noticed she plays a lot with hair and long materials to produce ascene of floating and provides theseelements with a life of their own, this issomething I have tried to create thoughthe doll’s hair and dress.However the modern picture I tried toproduce on the right I intended to be anadvertisement. I tried running the tapabove the deodorant can to produce abubbling effect to portray the fact thatthe can is underwater. I feel this workswell as an underwater advertisement asit represents that the deodorant will keepthe consumer fresh and the use ofbubbles help to illustrate the message.The brand is also visiable and clear tosee, this is why it is an effectiveadvertising image.
Jessica ScannellaI tried to recreate the image on the left, which is one of Louis Boutan’s firstunderwater images. My image was originally in colour but in order tomimic Boutan’s image I converted my image to black and white.Boutan’s image is in balck and white due to the lack of technology in1893 as only black and white film was used at the time. Boutan’s imagecontains the water surface and with a rippling effect from the surface, myimage also contains the surface of the water, which can be seen abovethe model’s ankles. The image that Boutan produced was forexperimental purposes as this was a new thing for him and photographyand I feel that my version of this image suits the original.Finally, my last image is basedon Boutan’s ideology and purpose ofunderwater photography, to gaininformation for scientific purposes.This image demonstrates whatunderwater photography wasoriginally designed for, the imageprovides a range of information suchas what lives underwater such as fish,mammals and plants, the behavior ofanimals and plants underwater andthe details about the environmentunderwater. This image wasconverted to black and white to
Jessica Scannellaemphasis the time period the image would have been taken in. Theframing of the piece is also realistic as the composition would not havebeen perfect due to the lack of technological equipment andenvironment they would have been in.In conclusion, I have found researching and experimenting withunderwater photography myself has proved interesting yet challenging. Ihave found that underwater photography is difficult to master andrequires a logical approach to techniques and equipment in achievegreat results. From studying the start of underwater photography topresent day, I understand how much technologies have changed. At thefoundation of underwater photography I now understand and appreciatethe amount of time and effort that had gone into taking an underwatershot and realise how modern equipment has been adapted fromprevious years. The only similarities of these two periods are the general setup of a housing for the camera being used and balancing artificial lightwith sunlight. On the other hand there seems to be a great developmentwithin underwater photography, which has created some differences, forexample, more advanced technologies. The housing for cameras in 1893was bulky difficult to handle, whereas modern housing has been adaptedand includes features such as handles and being more lightweight.Another key difference within the two periods are the subject matters, thisis mainly due to social effects and changes over the years. It was morecommon for marine life to be photographed in 1893, although marine lifeis still captured today, underwater photography has been led to a morecreative, artistic approach which has been adopted for the use ofadvertising and editorial purposes due to its unique effects. Overall I feelthat underwater photography is a unique yet significant form ofphotography as it is specialized and requires dedicated equipment. It isalso a way of discovering another world whether it is for marine or editorialpurposes.