Lake District Photographer interview with Olympus UK
Jason Chambers is a full time Wedding Photographer
based in the Lake District who spends his days shooting portraits, commercial work and weddings – but despite
cameras being continually present during his day job, when the time came for Jason to enjoy a well-deserved
holiday in the Philippines, photography was still one of his priorities. “I’ve been a photographer ever since
my school days, but finally turned pro four years ago after receiving some very positive feedback and finally
having the confidence in my work to make the jump,”he said. “It was a big move for me.”
In addition to his skills in photography, Jason is also a keen diver and was eager to combine both
interests – so he and his partner Lana headed for the Philippines to experience the fantastic diving on offer at the Magic Island Resort in Moalboal, organised by Ben Stokes at Dive Safari Asia. Before embarking on their trip, Jason approached underwater specialists Ocean Leisure Cameras for help choosing a dedicated underwater photography serious business but, if you’re dedicated to your underwater photography, then the pictures to enjoyed shooting underwater using a compact camera for a couple of years, so was now looking for something a little more durable.
After Ocean Leisure Cameras’ advice (Jason singled out Paul Duxfield for his help during the decision-making process) Jason eventually plumped for the E-PL3 and dedicated underwater housing PT-EP05L to take the PEN beneath the waves. “I’d had my eye on this little beauty [the E-PL3]for some time now, because I was looking for a small compact camera with SLR qualities,” Jason explained. “The waterproof PEN housing has the facility to accommodate wet lenses, which makes it a good choice for underwater photography.” Wet lenses are detachable optics that connect with the camera’s housing rather than the camera itself. It’s impossible to change the lens connected directly to the camera while underwater, as this would obviously flood the housing with water – but wet lenses can be changed during a dive to give the photographer more flexibility. “It gives you the opportunity to shoot macro and wide on the same dive, which would not be possible with an SLR,” Jason explained. Jason also picked up two lights – an Inon S2000 strobe and IST Video Light for providing lighting while submerged. Though seas might look perfectly illuminated when you’re standing on the shore, the amount of light available underwater reduces dramatically the deeper you go, and it’s often useful to have these additional lights available to add a pop of flash to a scene. “A few photographs were lit with the Inon S2000 strobe, but unfortunately the strobe had a malfunction only a few days into the trip. “The other photographs were lit with the on-camera flash and the diffuser attached to the Olympus housing. This worked very well as the majority of the shots that I took were macro, and I found having manual flash power very handy.” Upon arrival in the resort, Jason and Lana were greeted by the amazing view from their bungalow looking out onto the reef. They were planning to spend as much time diving as possible, but Jason also enjoyed using his new PEN out of its housing to capture images of the locals enjoying themselves on the land. However, it was underwater that the camera came into its own. “The housing was absolutely fantastic!” Jason said. “It feels great in your hands and is really robust. I used the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens on every shot with the addition of the Inon wet lenses – I used the macro and the wide wet lenses and carried them in my BCD (buoyance control device) wetsuit pockets! The housing was a great upgrade for me as it has the ability to accommodate the wet lenses. Olympus has done a great job featuring this function in the official casing for the PEN.” Although Jason has been a photographer his entire life, learning to shoot underwater was a very different experience and requires very different skills. “Shooting underwater is a completely different ballgame and I am still learning – I just need more air!” Jason joked. “There are so many things that come in to play.” Understanding the many marine subjects and their behaviour is a key part of the process, enabling you to semi-predict which way a certain fish might move or how they might react to your presence. “You have to get to know certain characteristics of marine
life,” Jason agreed. “And of course, understanding exposure is a must for any shots where you want to include the bright sun in shallow water.” Another of Jason’s shots (right) shows the technique of shooting half in and half out of the water, including both the submarine life and a traditional seascape style image in the same frame. “Shooting half-and-half shots can be quite tricky,” Jason said. “I would take an exposure on the surface first, then half-submerge the lens and shoot on continuous mode with the super quick E-PL3. Spending roughly an hour on each dive, Jason was particularly impressed with the robust nature of the camera. “ I didn’t experience a single problem with the E-PL3,” he said, “or battery life – though I was diving in 28°C water….” The quality of the images produced also impressed the experienced photographer. “I was concerned about the picture quality from the wet lenses, however I can quite honestly say that the image quality this little camera delivers is superb,” he said. “I didn’t notice any loss of contrast or difficulties from the extra layers of glass in front of the sensor. My favourite picture from the trip has to be the whale shark image I captured showing a diver and sun flare (p12).” Always shooting in Raw and Auto White Balance in order to process the images later, Jason also loved the quick AF offered by the E-PL3. Although the E-PL3 can also capture HD video, Jason didn’t manage to experiment: “I didn’t capture any video on this trip as I was having too much fun capturing stills!” – so perhaps moving images are something for his next trip. One thing’s for certain: if these sort of astounding images are on offer, perhaps all PEN owners should venture beneath the waves…
My Underwater Photography Tips…….
Get Close: Underwater particles can cause a reduction in quality and contrast when you’re far from your subject, and can appear as white floating dots in images. Getting up as close as you can will enable the best possible quality – watch out for those sharks!
Shoot Raw: Capturing Raw images allows you to adjust the White Balance of your images at a later date and also correct any exposure variations that you hadn’t accounted for. Pack a large memory card and shoot both Raw + JPEG for quick reviewing of images while also preserving detail in a larger file.
Look for the light: Shooting slightly upwards will enable you to make the most of all available light flooding down from the water’s surface. Additionally, the best time to shoot is midday when the most light is available –unlike on land!