Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Recording swimmers underwater, 'Muybridge' style.

I've been gathering the information and equipment to start to photograph swimmers underwater. After a fair amount of research, I've aquired a serviced Nikonos V, a 20mm wide angle lens and a SB 104 strobe light.

The idea is to start to photograph the swimmer closeup, 3-6 feet away from underwater at first in very clear water, either a pool or tropical waters. It would be ideal to be moving at the same velocity as the swimmer, either with fins or some kind of cable winch, then to fire off a burst of shots covering the key phases of the stroke.

The strokes are fairly well documented here at swim.ee for instance. There are the pull and push phases of the stroking arm and the recovery phase of the the opposite arm. The pictures are fair to poor quality in my opinion, and well that's part of the challenge, can one take better shots for motion studies? There are a few obvious challenges due to the nature of the shot been in / underwater. Firstly the photo will be 'bluish' to start so I'm hoping the strobe will be able to rectify that. Also when swimming at 100% effort, well there is usually a lot of white water, noise, bubbles etc, so it's possible to make that part of the dramatic effect, or to get the swimmers to swim more slowly and carefully without loosing the quality and accuracy of effortless swimming.

Ideally I can capture a sequence of shots for a stroke and have them represent how the motion took place. This may be difficult given the manual winder on the Nikonsos, but I may need to later on use either a motion film camera or some kind of high speed SLR in a housing. One thought here is to gather enough well framed sequenced shots so that I could start approximate the style of Muybrige and Marey


Early evidence of passion for boats and water.




Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My life and water

I've always loved been in and around water. I grew up on the suburban highveld, Joburg, South Africa. We lived in a modest split level home with a 18 meter pool where I took my first strokes. Later I'd feel the tide retreat and i'd sink into the sand of the warm Indian ocean of the coast of South Africa. In the early 70's my Auntie Daphne Taylor was my first swimming teacher and I remember I used to get these gold stars and boiled sweet for every accomplishment, like completing a width of backstroke in her Johannesburg swimming pool. I never really swam much or well at school for one reason or another, but did love swimming in the clear aquamarine waters whilst holidaying in Mauritius with my family. It was there on the southern tip of the island that I first learnt to scuba and started to fall in love with the reefs. Since then, I've dived mostly in the Caribbean, where I became Padi certified ( only Open Water One at this time ), Hoduras and Belize been the best aquatic experiences. Whilst studying Physiotherapy in Cape Town, I started to get into the healing power of water by way of hydrotherapy, and experienced high pressure water massage, and also got to see the importance of buoyancy for rehabilitaion of Guillain-Barré patients. When I moved to California a few years ago, I first lived in the sleepy wonderous surfer town Bolinas. It was here that I learnt to long board in probably one of the most idyllic surf spots, despite the cold, riding a wave while a flock of pelicans glide by is pretty spectacular. About two years ago my good friend Tracy encouraged me to try some openwater swimming, and I did swim the South End Invitational from Alcatraz Island across the cold San Francisco bay, my times are steadily improving and I've gone from 63 minutes to 55, and I hope to finish under 45 next year. Last night was a turning point, I got accepted to the USF Masters swim team. I've also been getting brilliant inspiration and coaching from Allison Wagner at USF. With her guidance, I've improved leaps and bounds both in style and motivation. I feel like swimming will always be an important part of the fantastic journey my life is turning out to be.

So I've decided to start to journal and aggregate mine and others aqua related experiences. I hope to be able to share with others, my absolute love for swimming, water, it's transformations and all it brings to life.