Keep your DSLR safe from harm on a swimwear shoot by the sea with a simple, inexpensive underwater housing
|THE MISSION Take your DSLR into the sea and keep it safe and dry with an underwater housing|
|Time needed One hour|
|Skill level Intermediate|
|Kit needed * Underwater bag * Tissue paper * Silica gel|
Underwater housings offer the opportunity to shoot from a new perspective, safe in the knowledge that your camera is protected. Hard underwater cases, that are made to measure for specific camera bodies, can cost upwards of a thousand pounds. So for most of us, a more realistic option is a soft, watertight bag like the Aquapac DSLR Camera Case (£80/$105) or DiCAPac WP-S10 (£55/$60) we used on our shoot. These housings have a cylindrical space for your lens, fronted by clear, hard plastic. The idea is you press the buttons through the soft material of the bag. Although they look quite cumbersome, it's surprising how easily you can control the camera.
These bags are made to be tough, and you needn't worry about your camera sinking, either, as there's enough air in the bag to ensure it says afloat (in fact, Aquapac claims that a cameara lost at sea was found a week later, in perfect working order). Of course, it's not just water that can kill your camera; sand is notoriously dangerous. So even if you're not planning on taking a dip, the bag is useful protection at the beach.
The great thing about these bags is that you can get really close to the action and not worry at all about your camera. These's something quite thrilling about being able to dive into the surf with your DSLR, or drop it down in the waves. We left the beach with a memory card full of fun, watery photos, and a completely dry camera. So if you're off to the seaside, an underwater housing is a great addition to your kit bag.
STEP BY STEP TAKE YOUR DSLR FOR A DIP
Ensure your housing is watertight and set up your camera for beach portraits in the surf
Half-pressing the shutter is tricky through a bag, so set up back-button focusing in your DSLR's custom AF menus
01 TEST WITH TISSUE
Before you put your DSLR in the bag, first put some tissue paper in, then submerge the bag. If the tissue stays dry then you know the bag is watertight. Place some tissue in the bag along with your DSLR - it'll be a good early-warning indicator if any water seeps in.
02 PREPARE YOUR CAMERA
Once your camera is in the bag it's tricky to access controls, so set it up beforehand. Our starting point was Manual exposure, 1/200 sec, f/5.6 and Auto ISO. You're better off making further adjustments with the Q menu and buttons, rather than trying to twist dials.
03 WATCH THE LENS
It's unlikely that the clear front cylinder will match up precisely with the front element of your lens, so watch for vignetting around the edges of the frame and hold the front plate to keep it central. Pop a sachet of silica gel in the bag to prevent the glass from fogging up.
04 SHOOT IN THE SURF
Get down low in the water to show the shape of the waves, or try half-submerging the camera (you can go completely under, although it's hard to see much in choppy, sandy waters). A reflector comes in handy on a sunny day for bouncing sunlight back into shadows.
FIVE WAYS SHOTS TO TRY IN THE WATER
01 SPLASH THE CAMERA
02 GO UNDERWATER
04 BREAKING WAVES
05 ACTION POSES