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.

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