Imagine this as a moving time-lapse…
Back in the Bahamas. I’ve been coming down here to a little island in the Exumas for 4 years now to play in the ocean and collect footage of this crazy blue world. My friends like to give me a hard time about my “rough life,” but the truth is that underwater videography is a lot of work. I’m not going to complain, not only because complaining is lame, but because I love what I do – but it’s a lot of work.
Last year the underwater camera setup I was using was big and bulky and weighed about 50 lbs. Every day I’d get up early, go set up a morning still-photo timelapse and then come back and start hauling loads of gear to the boat. Camera gear, dive gear, clothing (for bugs and sun) sunblock, food, water, etc., etc. The sheer amount of gear required is my least favorite thing about filmmaking and when the things you want to film are underwater, it just gets silly. So then all day running around in the boat. Stop, throw the anchor, jump in, swim around, fight the current, hold your breath, (what the hell was that big shape that swam by at the edge of your visibility?) find a way to climb back into the boat shivering with giant 50 lb camera, warm back up, reapply sun block, drink water, pull up the anchor, repeat. Come home at sunset totally water-logged, tie up the boat and start hauling all the gear back to the house. Fresh water rinse down for all the fins, masks, tanks, regulators, wetsuits, cameras, etc. Go inside and start recharging all the batteries for the underwater video lights, underwater monitor, video camera, still camera, field recorder, and time-lapse head, start downloading all the footage and the time-lapse images from that morning. Rum. The order of those last two is important. Rum before you set up the downloading process leads to mistakes and lost copies of footage. The big-budget guys who spend a small country’s GNP on a film have assistants to do all this stuff – and to take their camera before they try to climb back in the boat. Still, it’s a ton of fun.
So I just got down here again this year. Well, a couple weeks ago actually but I haven’t even been in the water yet. Everything (bad) that they say about boats is true. They are just holes in the water that you throw money into. The salt air here is amazingly good at reducing all working things to piles of rust. Whatever doesn’t rust, rots or gets cooked in the sun and crumbles. Anyway I’ve got an 18′ modified v-hull with a 90 hp outboard and what’s left of a trailer that have been sitting for about 7 months and need some love. Only I’m not very handy. I spend too many hours studying compression codecs and obsessing over camera sub-menus to hold much knowledge of any use. Anyway, I’ve about got everything fixed and all the new camera gear figured out and am poised to launch my assault. I’m shooting all my underwater stuff this year with the Canon 7D so, for fellow camera nerds, stay tuned and I’ll post more about that workflow, pros, cons, etc. Here’s a photo that I took the other night. It’s an HDR image which stands for High Dynamic Range. This is achieved by taking multiple exposures of the same scene and then blending them together to achieve more dynamic range than current camera sensors can capture. HDR photography can capture images that are closer to what our eyes see. This frame actually came from my first attempt to shoot an HDR time-lapse sequence. The road to HDR timelapses is full of all the obstacles and layers of nefarious software that all cutting-edge imaging is these days, but the rewards are just too exciting. If I had enough bandwidth down here to upload some video I would but for now the still image above will have to do.