Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part One: Underwater

Kayleigh in Spain Part One: Underwater
I recently visited Spain with my long time collaborator and friend, Kayleigh Lush, to spend a couple of days shooting at a friends place out there. Grant runs a small converted farm house, which he’s extended and developed to provide five guest rooms. It’s usually a naturist place, so it was going to be the perfect venue for our shoot-no hassle, no chance getting any grief for shooting nudes around the grounds.

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Given that we would have a private pool to ourselves, and were just ten minutes rom the beautiful coastline of south east Majorca, one of the things I wanted to be sure to try was underwater photography. I looked around at various options-spend two or three hundred on a small waterproof camera, spend a whole lot more on a proper housing and risk throwing my D300s in there, but in the end, I opted for a comparatively cheap option, and using one of my older cameras, a Nikon D60 that’s been sat on a shelf gathering dust for a year or two.

The first thing I had to do was relearn the camera. Considering that at one point I was using the D60 on a weekly basis for at least a year, it’s shocking how much I’d forgotten. And, next to the D300s, just how small and light it felt. Once I’d remastered the basics-it was into the pool, and time to learn a whole lot more stuff. First thing I learned-it’s difficult to focus, frame, shoot *and* stay under water. Kayleigh would throw herself to the bottom of the pool, a second or two later I’d throw myself under, and grab about two or three frames before starting to float up again. After more than a little trial and error, we eventually figured out that the best way to do manage was to have Grant hold me under the water (really….) and to let me up to breathe once Kayleigh surfaced. So the routine was: Kayleigh dives, I throw myself under, trying to focus through the marine case and goggles, frame the shots, Grant holds me under the water, Kayleigh surfaces, Grant lets me surface…. And repeat.

It should also be noted that the pool was freezing. No matter that 16 degrees is a not bad Spring day, 16 degrees on a pool thermometer basically translates as ‘you’ve got five minutes before your fingers start going numb.’ So, our pool shoot was limited to two very quick ten minute sessions, with a much warmer and more enjoyable attempt at shooting in the sea sandwiched in the middle. It has to be said, though, that Kayleigh was fearless, whilst I was looking for any reason not to get into the pool again for a second time, regardless of the layers of, um… insulation that I carry, Kayleigh, slim as a twig and not an ounce of insulation to keep her warm in the water, was determined we were going to get back in there for a second attempt.

I was too ashamed to wuss out, and am glad that I was forced back into the water, though. Considering we had comparatively little time shooting, I’m happy with the results. I suspect that, I’ve overegged the processing a little, not least as I’m still trying to figure out what kind of approach I like best-whack the image with filters and clean ups to remove the grain that you inevitably get from the sand churning off the sea or the weird pool chemicals, as I’ve done in the second and fourth images, or go super grainy and gritty, and emphasize the grittiness of the environment, as in the first and third images. Like I say, though, I’m pretty satisfied at this first attempt at underwater photography, and really look forward to the next opportunity to try this again. Whilst the first shoot was brief, I feel I’ve got a few pointers for my next shoot, and hope I can get yet better pictures the next time round.

A small selection of our underwater images just below…
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Mini Miu, photographed in Tokyo

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I was recently in Tokyo on a business trip, something which I do once or twice a year. This time, though, instead of arriving wishing that I'd arranged a shoot before travelling, I actually did something about it. I posted a casting call on model mayhem, asking if anyone in Tokyo fancied shooting whilst I was over. Much to my surprise, one of the very first to reply was Miu, who I photographed at a group shoot a couple of years ago. She now lives in Holland, but was fortunately planning on being in Tokyo at pretty much the same time as me.

We planned to shoot on the Thursday evening. All set, no problem. Until Typhoon Roke decided to show up. Wednesday afternoon, all staff were told to go home from the Tokyo office, as the imminent arrival of the hurricane was likely to disrupt things. No kidding. Wednesday afternoon and early evening, the whole of Tokyo got battered by the Typhoon, and having had to cross the street in order to get to a restaurant, I can assure you it was… intense. LIke Skegness Pier in Winter, only twenty times worse. So, I thought the chances of us getting to shoot on Thursday were pretty slim.

Fortunately, though, the morning came around, and it was a completely different story from the day before, as evidenced in the picture below. So, despite it still being a little bit breezy, and certainly rainy on the Thursday evening, and despite the plan to shoot out of doors, we decided to go for it.

I chucked my main camera, and flash gun into my bag, but decided that I would, first of all, try to grab some decent shots on my new camera, the FujiFilm X100. It's getting some great reviews at the moment, and I was pretty happy with the test shots. I planned to shoot a handful of shots on the new one, but despite it being a little bit fiddly and difficult to set (trans: 'although I hadn't even looked at the manual…') I ended up shooting with just this one. I'm very happy with the shots we got. I suspect Miu was more than a little suspicious about the little old fashioned looking camera, and was probably a little bit worried about the images, but too polite to say anything.

Honestly, so was I. I knew they looked good on the back of the camera, but that's not much of an indicator of what it'll look like once it's on a thirty inch monitor. It can look fantastic on camera, and then once on the proper monitor, out of focus, super wonky, or just not right. And, with a new camera, you just never know what the foibles will be. I needn't have worried though-considering we shot for probably 50 minutes of the two hours, we got a good handful of images that were more than worth the effort.

Okay-not quite fifty minutes. We then did a handful of extra shots at the end of the shoot in the Taxi on our way back to the train station. This gave us another couple of images that I’m certainly very happy with, and one of which is featured as the gallery icon here.

Anyway, as will be evident with the images, I experimented with exposure lengths of around 1/4 to 1/2 a second to allow for light trails, and ‘blurring’ but still forcing flash to freeze the main image, and was pretty happy with the results. The neon, and various lighting trails in the backgrounds definitely add to the images, I feel.

Check them out by clicking on the picture of Miu at the top of the blog, and feel free to leave a comment.