Yesterday was an important punctuation mark in that occasionally-torturous passage that comprises a new book’s gestation. I completed the final draft of Winning Images with any Underwater Camera andnearly 2 months ahead of schedule. There is some serious follow-up work to do in Bonaire next week and Cuba in January, so I can already feel you weeping for me! But I do want to produce those final few images to a standard that might meet some high expectations, mine included. Although I never underestimate the gradient that a book designer and publisher must climb to translate raw material into a quality publication, yesterday did herald the finish line and I inevitably felt a crackle of excitement looking at the book cover mock up, which unfortunately I cannot show you just yet. The book will be published at the end of May, so in the New Year I will use this blog to progressively introduce what my thinking about underwater composition will be about. But I can tell you now what the big idea is and why.
Despite my great fortune to own one of the most capable cameras in the world, I proved to myself during the course of writing the book that composition was probably the most dominant factor in winning images and that technology was a relatively small, albeit necessary part of the equation. For the best part of a year, I put down my SLR and dived with a simple compact camera and housing costing no more than a few hundred pounds. I called the modest project back to basics and was absolutely delighted with the results, much of which will be included in the book. Every image on this page was taken with that compact camera. Good results came more from thinking about the pictures that I wanted to create and less about the technology that I often desired. Modern compact cameras are very powerful and micro 4/3rd performance is already entering SLR territory. But even if you have the same good fortune to own a high-end SLR, it will not necessarily make you a better photographer. I think that the greatest leap in performance will always come from learning more about composition and aesthetics. It is a supremely cost effective way of improving your underwater images.
For those that I know well, and also for the many wonderful new friends that I made this year, have a joy-filled Christmas and a very peaceful New Year. I hope that you will all be blessed in 2014 with some images to win the hearts of your friends, families, competitions judges and magazine editors!