August 27, 2013

Revisiting Underwater (Or at least In the Water) Photography

My underwater camera is struggling. I’m not sure if it’s because the camera is now three years old and I’ve never gotten it re-coated like I was supposed to, or if because consumer electronics tend to die earlier these days. We took Nicki to the community swim center last weekend and the delay between pressing the shutter button and having it actually take the photo was pretty impressive. I was catching the tail end of moments, rather than the moments themselves.

I decided to try something different this time around. In the past it didn’t make sense to get an underwater case for my point-and-shoot since the case was so expensive. These days, my phone has become my point-and-shoot and underwater cases for phones are rather inexpensive. We went with this one.

Daddy and Nicki in the Pool

I have to be honest, I loved the case right up until the moment I started working on this post and looked back over my photos to find a “good” one to use as an example. Don’t get me wrong, the pouch functioned great for it’s intended purpose. No water leaked into the case, and I was able to use my phone in the pool with confidence. On two separate occasions we were waiting for phone calls. It was nice to bring the phone into the pool rather than sit pool side waiting for the call, or worrying accidentally dropping and destroying my phone. It also has a neck strap so I could bring it into the ocean without fear of loosing it. I kept my room key and id with me in the pouch so I didn’t have to worry about loosing either.

The actual photo quality? That left something to be desired. There were two issues with the case that effected picture quality.

1.) Humidity / Fog

When getting in and out of the water, both the underwater camera and the iphone in the underwater case suffered from the same droplets over the lens problem. The droplets distort the light waves and you end up with something looking like abstract art.

The iPhone case had an additional fog problem. Since the case was not airtight, and Florida is a rather humid environment, humid air was trapped in the case. Once the case was in the cooler water, the air condensed on the case and it started to get foggy. There are sprays you can get to help, (spit will help too), but it’s a bit of a pain.

2.) Our figures kept getting in the way.

Chalk this one up to user error, but both Domingo and I kept getting fingers in the shot. Sometimes the entire subject was blocked by the finger! We’re both frequent users of the iphone camera so we weren’t expecting this to suddenly be such a problem.

Normal (at least for me) way of holding the iphone in landscape orientation.

Normally my index and middle fingers are supporting the front of the camera when holding the iphone in landscape orientation, my thumb is in the back. My fingers are positioned in the middle of the vertical axis so the weight is most balanced. The lens is in the top right corner, unobscured by fingers.

Holding the camera in the waterproof case

When the camera is in the waterproof pouch it tends to rest along the bottom. Now when my fingers are along the middle of the edge, they’re much closer to that lens.

The Verdict

Next time I’m bringing both the underwater camera and the waterproof pouch. In the mean time I’m trying not to beat myself up about not taking the underwater camera to our first beach trip. Momtographer fail.

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