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Hello from New Joisey!


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#1 Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz

    Sting Ray

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  • Interests:NASCAR & IndyCar photography; large format photography; wet darkroom work. Getting ready to drag my gear underwater...

Posted 15 October 2007 - 11:58 AM

Hello from Sayreville, in the central part of The Peoples' Republic of New Joisey!

I'm an Electrical Engineer; and I moonlight as a professional photographer covering IndyCar & the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series; and on occasion I shoot Bar Mitzvah's & weddings with my Speed & Crown Graphic 4x5 press cameras. I also provide tech support to photo labs, graphics/prepress shops, and increasingly to photo studios as they transition to the digital imaging workflow.

I stumbled across this website while searching for underwater medium format gear for an acquaintance who introduced me to underwater macro photography at his NYC gallery exhibit two years ago. This gentleman's work with an F4 was spectacular as it was; but when he saw what a 6x45 frame can produce when blown up to 30x40 inches (like my friend, Lisa Fiel, produces with her Mamiya 645AFd), he asked me to "look around."

Yes, although some of the 39 megapixel images from an H3D-II look pretty good, there's just no substitute for shooting film if you can control what happens in the processor & enlarger: I've been using Photoshop since v2.51 in 1994, and I use an S2 Pro as my "point & shoot;" but you'll have to pry my Jobo ATL-3 from my cold, dead fingers! :)

________________________

Anyway, I've gone on a couple of resort dives when I was at my parents' timeshare down in Grand Cayman (in fact, they are down there Right Now); and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The issue I have -- And why I'm posting here -- is that if I start to shoot underwater, my standards are quite high... In other words, I'll be a photographer first, that just happens to be shooting underwater. Yeah, I can snag a used Nikon housing... And end up with 24x36mm film frames, which I know I'll not be satisfied with.

Instead, I'm looking to bring my Mamiya 645AFd gear under the surface; and then guide the resulting film through my darkroom, for the "end-to-end" control of how I want my images to appear.

Since I'm a total newbie when it comes to submerging expensive stuff that is supposed to be on terra firma, I'll be paying particularly close attention to housing recommendations from the pros here... Though I doubt I'll find a housing for my Crown Graphic & Kinematic 10 shot 4x5 film holder! :D

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Self-portrait with my Pacemaker Speed Graphic
I love the smell of fixer in the morning!

#2 Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz

    Sting Ray

  • Banned
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  • Location:Sayreville, Peoples' Republic of New Joisey
  • Interests:NASCAR & IndyCar photography; large format photography; wet darkroom work. Getting ready to drag my gear underwater...

Posted 17 October 2007 - 03:40 AM

By the way, this is what landed on our front lawn last week -- A red-tailed hawk, munching on a baby bunny rabbit.
DSCF4290_tight_crop.jpg

And this is Crackers, our rabbit we raised from an infant:

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I love the smell of fixer in the morning!

#3 loftus

loftus

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 06:00 AM

Dan,
I have read your intro and your posts on housings, MF etc. You are obviously extremely knowledgeable as a photographer and computer guy, as are a lot of the guys on this forum. For what it's worth, I would strongly suggest you do a bunch more diving and start shooting with a point-and-shoot before you invest a dime in high end MF underwater stuff. I think you will see that there is a huge jump from being an accomplished topside photographer to doing decent stuff underwater (at least decent according to others), and that high end resolution is the least of your concerns during the underwater learning curve process. Frankly, being a decent diver, good buoyancy control etc is the first requirement. Issues you may never think of like being able to compose decently while dealing with surge / currents / keeping still with good bouyancy / moving subjects are all things to consider before worrying about resolution. Then you will have to deal with ports working with your lenses, light changes and colour balance changes with depth, keeping the water column between you and your subject to a minimum, backscatter and strobe placement, balancing strobe and ambient, and on and on. There are guys on this forum with point-and-shoot or housed low end cameras, that way outshoot others, like myself, who have fancier stuff.
Who knows, maybe once you get all this down after a few dives, you will actually decide to house your 4x5.
Jeff
Oh, and the other thing - safety - remember, you and others around you, can drown doing this.

Edited by loftus, 17 October 2007 - 06:07 AM.

Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.

#4 Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz

    Sting Ray

  • Banned
  • PipPipPip
  • 240 posts
  • Location:Sayreville, Peoples' Republic of New Joisey
  • Interests:NASCAR & IndyCar photography; large format photography; wet darkroom work. Getting ready to drag my gear underwater...

Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:41 AM

Hi Jeff!

Actually, indeed I've been thinking along the lines of housing a P&S or prosumer digicam for starting out, for just the reasons you mention.

Fortunately, I have a few things working in my favor, which I haven't mentioned.

First, my father, though he's a bit long in the tooth, has been a diver for about 20 years, taking on some of the more challenging stuff like cave diving, nitrox, drift diving, and so forth; so any diving I would do would be with him;

Second, my parents have a nice time-share on the East End of Grand Cayman (the Tortuga Club) going on 15 years. The dive shop there also has excellent instructors; and in fact it's where I took the "resort course" back in 1994; though also under my father's watchful eye. Also, although the limit is six students per divemaster, they limited it to 4 per, to be on the safe side. Then, we went out on two dives: The first was on a reef in about 20 feet of water; and then the second was in the underwater petting zoo, a/k/a Stingray City.

I mention this because, even in just 20 feet of calm water, I saw more than enough material to photograph for me to justify housing my 645AFd.

[Yes, while we were there, my mother & I took the big sub where it went out to the wall & then down 150 feet: Sure, it would be nice to eventually go down to the 132 foot limit and shoot that too; but I know I can get images worthy of blowing up to 30x40 inches in just 20 feet of water.]

Also, here at my fiancee's house, we have a 20 foot above ground pool, so I can toss some things in and practice shooting with just a mask.

Next, our friends have a cabin on Beaver Lake, just an hour away. It's a freshwater lake that is only 8 feet deep at the most; and in the summer is a pleasant 83-85 degrees. Also, Uncle Chazz, the owner of this cabin has been a SCUBA diver for over 30 years; and has been on many, many dives with my father. [And, Uncle Chazz is a crackerjack electrical engineer -- He's who I go to when I have an engineering problem I can't solve.]

So, my basic plan is to go in big by housing my MF gear for underwater use; but then to practice extensively in friendly swimming pool and lake confines before going to Grand Cayman.

On the other hand, your suggestion about taking a P&S instead is quite well taken, and here's why: I can foresee almost a year's worth of prep before all the MF gear is ready to go: About the earliest I could take it swimming in Beaver Lake would be July `08 (takes a while to warm up); and if I decide to go down to the time share in January (when there's a foot of snow on the ground!), I sure would take along an inexpensive P&S.

Cheers!
Dan

PS: Surprisingly, it's quite easy to house a Graflex for underwater, since all you have is the focusing rack, shutter, and a way to pull the handle on the Grafmatic (6 shot) or Kinematic (10 shot) magazine to change sheets.

Dan,
I have read your intro and your posts on housings, MF etc. You are obviously extremely knowledgeable as a photographer and computer guy, as are a lot of the guys on this forum. For what it's worth, I would strongly suggest you do a bunch more diving and start shooting with a point-and-shoot before you invest a dime in high end MF underwater stuff. I think you will see that there is a huge jump from being an accomplished topside photographer to doing decent stuff underwater (at least decent according to others), and that high end resolution is the least of your concerns during the underwater learning curve process. Frankly, being a decent diver, good buoyancy control etc is the first requirement. Issues you may never think of like being able to compose decently while dealing with surge / currents / keeping still with good bouyancy / moving subjects are all things to consider before worrying about resolution. Then you will have to deal with ports working with your lenses, light changes and colour balance changes with depth, keeping the water column between you and your subject to a minimum, backscatter and strobe placement, balancing strobe and ambient, and on and on. There are guys on this forum with point-and-shoot or housed low end cameras, that way outshoot others, like myself, who have fancier stuff.
Who knows, maybe once you get all this down after a few dives, you will actually decide to house your 4x5.
Jeff
Oh, and the other thing - safety - remember, you and others around you, can drown doing this.


Edited by Dan Schwartz, 17 October 2007 - 07:42 AM.

I love the smell of fixer in the morning!