Cal isn’t the first person to bring models in a pool to the screens of Wetpixel readers, but he is by far the most recent and regular. For me, the part that draws me in is the feel of movement and grace with simplicity and style. The part that I think everyone is open-jawed at is the studio feel they all have.
It all started (if memory serves) with Alex Mustard and his choice of models, which—lets face it—were complete dogs! Next pool images to stick in my mind were those of James Wiseman and his Planet Funk Dancers which brought the human element into the game and showed us that some people wanted a new way to showcase themselves. James has stuck with it and each time brought us some insights into his learning curve and techniques. James’ recent Adam and Eve style shoot shows off the use of props to create something familiar in a new way.
Cal I believe has already in a short time shown off the most amount of pool sessions out of anyone and in most cases there is a variation in theme each time. It started off with ‘Girl with a pearl earring’ and then we had the The funky white gloved running man’. It was the latter which got my attention and made me realise the potential of the art one could produce in a swimming pool. A few more sessions came by with some ‘Urban Vibes’ & ‘The venetian man’ whilst a little bit creepy utilised props and outfits and backdrops to create a very unique effect.
The most recent of Cal’s pool shoots he has shared with us didn’t hold back either. In ‘jesters, wedding dresses and even a guitar’ we were given everything the title promised my favourite was most certainly the jester who through pose and props and creative photography made me feel like I was meant to be laughing as he jested a smile onto my face. I am still a little bit disturbed by the harm brought upon the guitar but am secretly hoping it was either already broken or survived its dip in the swimming pool.
Whilst we all may not have access to a pool I am guessing that swimming pools are more accessible than open water or lakes for real scuba diving adventures. Pool photography could definitely be a great way to keep up with your skills during the time you are working hard to save up for your next vacation. More than that it could be a new style for you to explore, go photograph your local scuba club practicing, the swim team training or maybe even some Eric Cheng visits the NASA neutral buoyancy labs! In the mean time while you wait patiently to get yourself and your camera wet why not go and check out Cal’s most recent images where he is ‘Losing my mind underwater’
It wasn’t so long ago that scuba diving was an exotic sport to most of the world and underwater photography an even more exotic art form. How does a person end up putting a studio in a swimming pool and shooting modeling shots underwater then? It seems like another exotic departure from the normal. Cal’s reasons for getting into his swimming pool on a regular basis should hit home to a lot of us.
In October last year I moved from Melbourne to Townsville on the Great Barrier Reef for university. In Melbourne, I usually dive from the shore and simply had to pay for petrol and air. When I got to Townsville I literally couldn’t afford to dive because of the tourism industry. Each dive was well over $100.
I started doing some freshwater snorkeling with my camera to satisfy my underwater photography cravings but there simply wasn’t much subject matter and I was little nervous about crocs.
I managed to convince a good friend of mine, Annika, to do some modelling for me so I could just have a bit of fun with my camera. The results were suprisingly good and I loved that I could bring my own creative element to the shoot rather then relying on what I found out in the sea.
But before you decide to go and jump in your own pool and give it a go you may want to think about all the hard work that has to go into getting some decent results. It doesn’t come easily and every step of the process from location, model, set up and the shoot has to be thought through as best you can in order to make it work for you.
Quite a bit of work goes into each shoot. Firstly, you need to find a decent, clean and large pool to work in which is by far the hardest part of organizing a shoot. I’ve got a good relationship with my regular pool but I had to contact at least a dozen pools in Melbourne before I could find one that would let me shoot there. Secondly, you need a model who can open their eyes and appear relaxed underwater. Again, this is suprisingly difficult as most models really struggle with it. Then you need an outfit, costume or idea to shoot around. Sometimes they can be as simple as a model waving around fabric and looking pretty or they can be really complex involving props, wardrobe changes and make up artists.
Once all that is sorted you need to work out the lighting for the shoot. At the momment I favor two on camera ds-51 strobes connected via hotshoe and 2 off camera d2000 fibre optically triggered strobes which I use both above and below water. Lighting is the single biggest learning curve when making the change from shooting wildlife to models - it’s something that i’m constantly trying to improve with discussion and advice from fellow wetpixel members Loftus and James Wiseman.
Shooting time is usually 2 hrs, after which, the model is usually to tired to keep going. I currently shoot in quite a deep pool so I have to be careful of wearing the model out from making them tread water etc.
Post production is long and time consuming. I usually use multible layer adjustments including dodging, burning, levels, local sharpening (eyes etc) and tonal adjustments.
For more of Cal Mero’s photography, see calmero.redbubble.com