To celebrate 8 months of our Travelin’ Fools travel blog, the other half of this blog has decided to write his first official blog post. Hooray! And despite being a procrastinator, Mister Peter Rimkus is also a very talented underwater and above water photographer. He has spent kajillions of hours in the ocean as a scuba dive instructor and photographer and speaks fluent sea turtle. Learn how he got into the underwater camera world and learn something from his lessons in photography. Check out more of his photos online at Two Tank Photo.
Lessons in Photography
I started really playing with cameras when I was in 6th grade. Being the adventurous kid that I was, I started trying to take cameras places they didn’t belong. This was back when film was the medium of choice. I loved climbing and trying to get photos from as far back in the Austin greenbelt as possible. I also loved skateboarding. I would try and get photos of my friends jumping down stairs and other crazy places. My goal was always to get as close as possible and only get hit half the time. After lots of shooting and upgrading to a more durable camera, I was ready to take on adventures to crazier places.
My family has always loved being in or around the water. Our vacations were usually to Caribbean islands to go scuba diving and play in the crystal clear water. This is where I originally became interested in underwater photography. The first underwater camera I owned was a Nikonos V. This is a camera designed to be used pretty much only underwater. It had all manual controls and lenses that were only in focus when in water… oh and it was film. To add to the challenge, you had to guess how far away your subject was (which is difficult since everything appears closer and larger in water) to focus and turn the dial on the front to match the distance. Luckily fish stand still and water doesn’t really move at all. Ahem. Not the easiest way to start, but definitely a good way to really figure out what the controls do. Nothing like waiting 2 weeks after taking a picture to figure out you didn’t have the settings right.
Just about everyone these days has either an iPhone or GoPro. Both are very easy to use and take pretty good pictures and video. While the GoPro is designed to go right in the water from the box (make sure to have the completely enclosed case on), the iPhone needs a 3rd party case to make it water ready. The Lifeproof case is great for everyday use, but if you really want to play in the water, the Watershot housing is the way to go. The most important thing to remember is these cameras use electricity, which is not a friend of water.
The first thing you want to do with any camera before you bring it in the water is completely check all the seals. I can’t tell you how many cameras are now junk because a single hair or grain of sand was on the o-ring. It doesn’t matter if it’s a GoPro or an $8,000 professional setup, a strand of hair can destroy everything. Water places huge amounts of pressure on the housing and it just takes a small object on the o-ring to let water in. Each camera is a little different in how they want you to maintain the o-rings and how to put it all together, but they are typically very similar. If the manual tells you to use o-ring grease, only use the manufacturer recommended brand. Different chemicals can cause the o-ring to swell and not fit properly. Also, be careful not to stretch the o-ring. As long as you are meticulous, work in a clean environment, and really make sure you check the o-rings, you should be good to hop in the water.
Stay tuned for more photography tips, and thanks for reading!