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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