CHAPTER 5: THE SOCIAL ASPECT
Kids are the first to comment upon anything out of the ordinary. A father and son were playing in the pool when I showed up to the edge, hovering protectively over my oddly-shaped black box; to which, the 3-year old instantly took note.
No doubt father and son were equally curious about the small alien spacecraft I was easing into the water, but it was the son that was unhesitant in asking “What’s that thing?” The father seemed a tad embarrassed, but he was also no doubt relieved that his own curiosity would be satisfied without having to ask me what it was.
“It’s an underwater camera”, I replied, leaving out the detail that the camera wasn’t in it. Dad translated the message into a form the son could understand, the significant part of my sentence being that most cameras can’t go underwater.
With dad standing by (literally) in the pool, the son was honing his swimming abilities which is a rather unremarkable photographic opportunity. However, he was wearing these really cool dark-blue goggles and I thought he’d make a great subject - barring any leatherback turtles in the pool I haven’t spotted yet. Alas, by the time I had gotten the camera in the housing and the rig back out to the pool, he and dad had gone inside. The shot had gotten away. I was too shy to ask if they could wait while I went in to get the camera. While allowing myself to ease into the notion of my camera in water, the “shot got away”. The need for a photographer to be ready for any shot that arises and secure a shot they wanted was a lesson already learned.
Unlike the parallel to having children, the taking pictures of underwater is an endeavor shared by relatively few people. It rarely comes up in casual conversation; elections, the economy, or the intricacies of 18th-century European footwear seem to be discussed more often. Not to mention that showing a non-diver/photographer your most cherished photographs can be a crushing blow. “Oh, a squid… thing. Neat!” Photos of a frogfish or scorpion fish often provoke a “why did you take a picture of a rock?” These people don’t understand that you may have spent 48 minutes utterly motionless, holding your breath to the point of panic to avoid a bubble scare, patiently waiting for an animal the size of a grain of rice to strike that one behavioral pose, only to later find a far better shot taken by someone else. There’s nothing like achieving on a nominal level what others have on a grand scale.
That’s perhaps the sense that gets lost - this hobby is very much about the hunt. Your ability to find something designed not to be found or keep up with something that does not want to be followed, in an environment you were never designed to inhabit photographing something that probably spends 99% of its time in near darkness. Pure heaven.
Only one thing left to do. Introduce the rig to salt water. But first, I needed to get it to salt water…
by Daniel Brown
Dome Port Diaries
The Adventures of a Newbie Housing Owner