March 20th 2010 will be known to most Perth people as the day the ‘Great Storm’ hit. For me it would be the day I pulled out one of my best sporting photos ever.
It was the last job for the day and I was heading to Woodbridge to photograph Alexander Graham (14), a young kayaker who recently returned from the National Championships where he won best junior at the event.
Preparing for the shoot I brought along my EWA underwater bag housing which I was slowly learning how to use, and a pair of board shorts which I carry for situations like this.
I scouted the area on arrival to see what I could do. A shot I had in mind was something taken from a low angle in the water with lots of water splash. With that in mind, I put my Canon 1D Mk3 fitted with a 16-35mm into the housing.
The camera is set to aperture priority, as changing settings while the camera is in the housing isn’t easy. I knock back the exposure -2/3 stops as I wanted to capture more detail in the sky due to shooting in jpeg.
When Alexander arrived I talked to him about what sort of shots I was after. He looks into the horizon and goes ‘There’s a big storm heading our way’. I look over and not really knowing what I was seeing I wasn’t all too phased by it.
Alexander gets into his kayak where I ask him to bog it up onto the sand. This idea came to me as a way to stop the kayak from moving if he was to start paddling. It also enables me to get consistent shots of him in action. I then set up two flashes, one in the water on a light stand and the other outside of the water. Both fitted with diffusers, and triggered by PocketWizards.
I get into the water, body laying completely underwater while keeping my head and camera above water.
15 minutes in the water and 65 shots later I get the shots I was after. As I was taking the last shot Alexander goes ‘Oh it’s hailing’. I look over to see some small hail stones melting on the kayak. I couldn’t feel the hail as it probably melted when it hit the water.
Getting out of the water the heavens decided to open up. The Great Perth Storm had arrived, and my camera gear was still out in the open and uncovered. Alexander’s mum helps me pack up my gear while I’m covered in sand trying to clean up as the strong winds and rain hit me.
The main difficulty during the shoot was trying to keep as little water droplets off the front of the housing. This problem would have probably been reduced with the help of some windshield protection fluid.
Overall, I was very happy about the final photo considering the time and conditions.
Canon 1D Mk3
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
1/80th @ f/8 - 200 ISO
EWA Marine bag housing
2 x Canon 550EX II units with external diffusers
PocketWizards TT1 and two TT5s
Manfrotto light stands