Although our conversation with Marie Davies took place on a dry terrace of a Dubai beachside bar, the topic we spoke of would not leave the deep-water, the Galapagos, the creatures and the strobes. Marie is an underwater cinematographer from Australia. Well actually, from UK, but one particular New Year’s Eve, she decided to see the Millennium in the land Down Under. She lived in Australia ever since. When Marie is not diving, she produces educational shows for children on ABC.
Taking photos under the sea is not only a physical challenge: buoyancy and currents, sea dwellers that refuse to stand still, time and tank capacity limitations. Lighting conditions, unpredictable visibility add to many a complexities. Backscatter — a reflection of particles caused by a flash or a strobe — could be a potential disaster for a beautiful shot.
Marie tells us about how she always tries to focus on the eyes of her subjects, trying to light them up. The wee sea horse on the photo above as if amassed all the wisdom of the universe, and the scorpion fish below is clearly a politician, don’t you find?
The sea world presents a diver with a perfect texture and colour, yet it takes an eye to concentrate on a subject and emphasise it. Manta rays are tricky to shoot. They are blank on top and white underneath, and the right exposure really defines a good photograph.
“I’m self taught, says Davies. I worked on a dive boat as a photo/video pro and had to teach underwater photography. When you dive 60 times per month shooting video and taking photographs you learn pretty quickly.”
P.S. All photos in this post are by Marie Davies, and Light Intelligence published them with her permission. Marie shared her settings for each shot, which you can see in the caption under the photo. The list of equipment used:
Camera Canon 5D Mark iii with Nauticam housing, Canon lenses 17-40mm (W/A) and Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS USM macro. Strobes – 2 x INON z240