An Amateur’s Guide to Underwater LEGO Photography (featuring Aquaman)
Early adventures in shooting photos underwater with LEGO… and a free colouring page to boot!
I have been trying to manage my stress levels by setting aside time to do things that I enjoy. LEGO has been my primary focus, but born out of that has come an interest in photography. I am still just an amateur, dabbling in the art. But, I have started an Instagram feed and Pinterest page to showcase some of my work (please, feel free to follow me). While on vacation at the cottage, I thought it would be cool to try my hand at underwater photography. Today, I’m going to tell you how my first attempt went.
Like, I mentioned before, I am by no means an expert. I have no formal training in photography, and I am sort of teaching myself as I go. I do have a decent DSLR with a limited selection of lenses, but this particular experiment was actually done using an old point-and-shoot.
The first digital camera that I ever bought was purchased just prior to going to Africa. I was going to be working in the field in various weather conditions, and it was important for me to have something that could withstand dust and heavy rain. I bought the Pentax Optio WPi. Keep in mind, this was almost 11 years ago. This camera has been amazing. It has withstood everything that I have thrown at it and more. It survived field work in the South African bushveld, numerous dips into marshes while studying frogs in Canada, cave explorations in Belize, torrential rainforest storms in Costa Rica, snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean, and all the other more day-to-day use that I have required of it over the last decade. My Pentax is completely submersible without any extra protective casing needed, and has remained water tight since I first bought it. All the pictures in the article have been taken with it. When the day comes that this little guy finally dies, I will certainly look into Pentax’s waterproof line again.
The biggest challenge for me was aiming the camera in the right direction. Once underwater, the screen on the camera is no longer very helpful in determining what you are looking at, even if you wear goggles. I had to sort of point the lens in the general direction of my subject and hope for the best. So, it helped that my model was LEGO Aquaman, and did not move.
Another challenge that I faced was the fact that Aquaman floats. I ended up taking a Minifigure display tile and either partially burying it or placing some rocks on it to keep it from floating. Aquaman was then positioned on the tile.
The fine silt on the lake shore also posed a problem. It did not take much for the water to cloud over. But, that wasn’t always bad. I kind of like how the above picture turned out with all the suspended debris.
The other cool thing about a waterproof camera is that it makes shots like the one above really worry free. I don’t have to care about the camera getting wet when I lean down to the water surface for shots like these. In fact, the bottom of the camera was actually in the water for that shot.
You might also want to consider the effect you are trying to attain. You can see a big difference in the water clarity between the lake on the left and the swimming pool on the right. The lake requires more Photoshop work if you want to attain that bluish hue, and even then it is cloudy. But, it is more realistic in my opinion. I found it easier to take photos from underneath, facing up in the pool though. The pool jets also guarantee a current to get the ripple effect you see in the picture above. You could pretty easily set up some fake fish tank plants and large rocks in the pool to make a more realistic scene.
My final piece of advice is to take lots of pictures and experiment with different settings. Sometimes a picture might look good on the small camera screen, but be out of focus on your computer screen. The autofocus on a point-and-shoot isn’t always the greatest, so I used manual focus a lot. You have to stay in really shallow water for this though. With my camera, I was not able to see anything on the screen if it was more than a couple of centimeters below the water’s surface. I took about 80 pictures, and the six here were the ones that I actually kept and was comfortable displaying. I also found the underwater shooting mode on my Pentax to be very good.
I hope some budding LEGOgrapher out there finds this insightful or inspirational. Again, I am by no means a professional. If you have any tips from your own experiences I would love to hear them. If you have any comments, feel free to leave those too! Remember to follow me on Instagram and/or Pinterest for regular postings of LEGO pictures!
Until next time,