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Friday, February 2, 2007

Dive In

Digital technology makes it possible for anyone to get into underwater photography

Sea & Sea The high capacity of memory cards and the instant feedback of a digital camera have revolutionized anyone's ability to shoot underwater. On a recent trip to Tahiti, my camera was fitted with a blank memory card in the morning, and that's the card I used all day. I was using a Nikon D200, which has a 10+ megapixel image sensor, and shooting in high-quality JPEG mode. The camera was housed in a Sea&Sea DX-D200 housing (www.seaandsea.jp). The 4 GB memory card held hundreds of photographs, which freed me to concentrate on shooting instead of having to worry if I'd run out of card space. At the time, it was my first real foray into underwater shooting, so I made plenty of mistakes, but I was able to review each image instantly on the camera's LCD monitor and make an adjustment. The result was that I was getting keeper photographs on my first day beneath the waves. One of my traveling companions told me I was making progress in those few days that would have taken years if I had been using film.

The underwater realm is an extraordinary place, and it's easy to become overwhelmed by the scenery—you can literally miss the forest for the trees. My local dive shop, Eco Dive Center in Los Angeles (www.ecodivecenter.com), has been an important resource for both teaching me to use scuba gear as well as teaching me about the environment. The shop is much more than a place to buy gear. It's the hub of the underwater community. In addition to taking classes at the shop, I go there to learn about underwater plants and wildlife and to ask questions about what I've seen.

Whether you want to dive into scuba as a hobby or plan to do casual snorkeling on a vacation, the camera is an ideal companion. Digital cameras, advances in low-cost housings and high-capacity memory cards give you the ability to become a good underwater photographer quickly, and you'll bring back stunning photos from your first treks into the sea. Personally, it's changed my life. I hope it changes yours!




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