Over Under Shots With Chris McLennan

You might remember seeing Chris McLennan’s awesome close up Lion photo’s that he captures with the help of an RC car and an Aquatech Sound Blimp, but he also takes some stunning water shots too.

On his website beyondf8.com he has a bunch of how to style posts about some of the work he’s done, the one that caught my eye recently was about half and half (aka under/over) style shots in Fiji: beyondf8.com/half-and-half

I recently posted about the different kind of ports you need depending on the type of shot you’re after, and said that the best port for over/under shots is a large diameter dome, like the 8″ dome I used to take this photo.

I took this shot in July, if I were to do it again now I'd push up the ISO and use a smaller aperture, ISO 100, 10mm, f5.6, 1/1000
If I were to re-do this shoot now I’d push up the ISO and use a smaller aperture, ISO 100, 10mm, f5.6, 1/1000

Chris uses the same style of port on his Aquatech housing as me, although he has the latest generation of pro housing and the port system has changed, here’s the gear list for his shoot (via his website and Aquatech’s blog post):

I like the fact that he shows the camera settings that he’s used on each photo, so make sure you click through to see the final image of a snorkeller and SUPer in the same shot, he’s shooting at a fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur and needs a narrow aperture so he’s bumped the ISO up quite high to get the results he needs.

In my shot above you can see I was at f5.6, it was shot in shutter priority with auto ISO as I have very limited controls on my housing, even so, if I were shooting this again today with an over/under in mind I would probably just set it up in manual mode and go for a high ISO and small aperture for the best depth of field.

I was shooting a big group of people at various distances above and below water and the shot that we were after was a straight underwater image looking up at a couple of paddlers, we got that fairly quickly so this was an idea I had to try and get the paddle and person in the shot, I was using autofocus as I knew I’d be above and below the surface and people would be all over the place, I will try and get a full post up on this shot at some point.

My normal procedure for underwater shooting with this setup is to manually focus the lens to 0.3 metres before entering the water. I duct tape the focus ring to prevent any chance of movement – Chris McLennan

The focus is set for the virtual image that the dome creates of the underwater scene and the narrow aperture helps to keep as much of the above water section in focus too.

Make sure you read his blog post for the full how-to, and check out the rest of his site too, I’ve already bookmarked a half dozen pages to go back and read properly when I get the chance.


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