Calm before the Storm: The Long Story Shooting & TSUNAMI
Shooting some underwater photography I am a Scuba diver and love to dive when I get the opportunity, where better than in warm clear seas. The chance finally arose earlier in the year when we were commissioned by a travel company ( Whom I am friendly with the Boss) to shoot some great underwater shots that would be used in their marketing online and offline. The place we were being shipped to was the Maldives or to be more specific the South Ari Atol islands. What a Buzz. They were even happy for me to take along my family if I met some of the costs i.e flights but accommodation would be provided as would the food. I couldn’t miss this one so off we went.
Grand Centara 5 star Having not really shot anything in deep sea before or even with a camera housing it was going to be a challenge in getting the shot to work. No lights were needed as we were not shooting deep and was light enough near the water surface, shafts of light would be very strong at that time of year and would be reflected up from the bottom off the sand back to the subjects which would give a great look providing the seas were calm.
How it all mapped out on the day. When we arrived on location I met the models and although we were not to see their faces they had to be confident at swimming and comfortable at being underwater to a depth of 10ft max. The camera used was the Nikon D3X and the housing used was the Aquatica fitted with barrel to house the 50mm lens. I had to play around with it first to get a feel for it but once I was happy at my first few dives with it all was cool. Firstly before diving I had to take the guys out to about 10ft just on the edge of the reef to practise getting them together as a group of 3. They were to use only a mask and snorkel to make it look convincing a family out snorkelling. The final effect needed to convey the natural beauty and diversity of the reef in an open and convincing way.
The biggest problem for me would be being able to direct the models and group them together naturally as well as asking them to hold their breath to make it look like they had submerged for a closer look at the beautiful reef and fish. It was also suggested it might be fun if we had a couple of sharks in the shot. The finished image should be full of action and a little tongue in cheekiness with the sharks. These of course had to be shot separately then added to a composite set of images shot at the location to create an underwater environment of real interest. Where were we going to get sharks from? well it was lined up for me and even though we couldn’t shoot a white shark there were plenty of white or black tipped reef sharks??????? whaaat i thought swimming with fish was fine but not with sharks. The final shots were completed in about 60 minutes and the main shot of the underwater swimmers complete, now for the sharks?
How it all mapped out shooting with SHARKS. So the challenge was set, we would swim about 4oo yards around the island to where the 5 star meals were being served in a lovely restaurant on stilts but out into the sea. The water under the building was only 6 ft deep but apparetnly 5 reef sharks lived under there during the day but also so did the obligatory Stingrays, Puffer fish and the odd Eel with long teeth. I was a little apprehensive at the thought of swimming with fish that had long teeth hay ho. I finally decided to shoot the background of the reef sharks on a new Go Pro Hero 3 in underwater housing and attached to a telescopic pole mainly as it would give me more distance between me and the sharks
Once at the location were were taken right into the lions mouth there they were swimming around at about 30 ft away and circling as you see on the TV. I was pretty nervous but there were large stilts about 2ft circumference which held up the building but would give some sort of cover or feeling of cover at least. Any way it was left to me to start shooting when I felt comfortable. Go Pro switched on and pole extended i started to pouch it underneath the first sharks nose or as close as I felt I wanted to go. I suppose we could have sourced the images online bur as we were there it was a little challenge that needed to be completed fro me really, plus the thrill to see real sharks up close and personal.
Below is some video of me trying to capture the sharks. I have included other footage of interest whilst diving with fish and sharks and at the end of this piece i have added a video where i did manage to go diving to the edge of the reef where they is a Japanese freighter ship which is a wreck at approx 65ft. You can see me diving on it and having a scout around.
VIDEO OF MALDIVES DIVE COMPOSITE
THIS VIDEO SHOWS SOME 5ft REEF SHARKS WHICH WERE USED IN THE COMPOSITE BUT ALSO, THE PRE DIVE WITH THE 3 MODELS , TO MAKE IT A LITTLE MORE INTERESTING TO WATCH I HAVE ADDED THE FAMOUS JAWS MUSIC TO CREATE A LITTLE DRAMA.
TSUNAMI WARNING The whole shoot went great and all of the raw files were in the bag so to speak, although it was strange not working with #teamnader on a shoot and Phil who heads this up( Budget not good enough ) however to was a great chance and the only chance so far to mix a shoot with family. This was the calm before the storm as on the last day the news we didn’t need to hear after such a great shoot it had happened and scared us into submission a warning of a TSUNAMI of up to 1 metre high was heading our way from near Indonesia.
This gallery below features some artwork which tells as story in a scrap book style
OK So I am out on the edge of the reef in canoe on the last but one day and a guy is pedalling like hell out to me. I thought this is strange, maybe I had gone to close to the planes platform in the sea where they tie up to drop of the travellers. Finally the guy gets by the side of me and shouts “Get out of the water TSUNAMI WARNING” I replied in an international way and verbalised this to him in the usual British way. He repeated again “GET OUT OF THE WATER NOW !!!!!! TSUNAMI WARNING” by this time a really believed him, he asked me to paddle back asap and get back to the room and put on my Tsunami life vest and also to do this for the family and wait for further instructions. I zoomed back to the family and dragged them back to the room with them both in tears and worried terribly. We put on our life vests and had to wait.
We waited a while but someone had posted earlier a letter under the door which we had missed in the panic, the content of which I will write below. We were told that the island was expecting a 1 metre wave to hit the island in the next 1.5 hours and to make ready as best we could, This would be to climb up onto the bungalow roofs via a fence which would get us 30 ft off the ground and hopefully away from the swell. The buildings were 2 story bungalows and partly enforced in concrete so we would have stood a better chance that way. Any way a long story short and the day didn’t quite map out to a 1 maters wave but the beaches did change shape and the water had dropped initially by about 2 feet and then risen +3ft so 1 ft higher in all. This was the most scary event so far but if you take the time to view the images in the slideshow you get an idea of my time there in 1o days.