The Great Underwater Photography Fantasy

Taking pictures above ground is the easy part. Keep the gear dry and safe on the zodiacs when traveling to and from shore. Be mindful of cold and ever-changing weather conditions. Respect the wildlife and understand the light. Bring some wide angles, bring some telephotos and bam, I’m set.

But, I’ve decided to complicate the whole thing by adding an underwater twist. I’ve got big dreams of bright blue icebergs below the surface and playful swimming penguins - all captured in high quality glory with my DSLR inside a ewa-marine bag. I dream of photos like this one by David Doubilet:

 Amazing photograph by Underwater Photographer,  David Boubilet .

Amazing photograph by Underwater Photographer, David Boubilet.

Of course, that kind of shot poses many challenges since won't actually be IN the water. Hopefully I can achieve something close with these fantasy scenarios:

Scenario 01: Dipping my underwater bag in the water from my kayak.

  • Subjects: Ice, swimming penguins, other swimming sea life.
  • Risks: Falling in the water. Not the camera… ME. Oh, and the bag failing, killing my camera.
  • Questions: How am I going to fire the shutter with big neoprene gloves? Is the water too cold? 
  • Note: Coincidentally, a photographer name Kyle has done this before!

Scenario 02: Dipping my underwater bag in the water on the shore.

  • Subjects: Splashing about wildlife.
  • Risks: Generally getting wet and being cold. 
  • Questions: Is there even a shot “underwater” here? This is not my dream.

Scenario 03: Dipping my underwater bag in the water from a slow zodiac “cruise”

  • Subjects: Ice, swimming penguins, other swimming sea life.
  • Risks: Zodiac drivers giving me hell. Falling in the water. Again, MY body, not the camera. 
  • Question: Will zodiac drivers let me do this? The same questions as the kayak.

I’m bringing some underwater point and shoots (film!), which should be fun and low risk and a complete mystery — which is half the fun! I’m also considering a GoPro - but am less into video and the photo quality isn’t as good. And of course, multiple camera bodies in case I kill a camera with this possibly ridiculous and mostly amazing ambition.

I have a practice simulation planned in a few weeks to try these scenarios out. Anyone have an experience or stories attempting something similar?