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What They Carry
Underwater Photography:
Gear Up Like a Pro

Click to Enlarge.
Underwater photographer
Tim Calver

Underwater photographer Tim Calver rarely straps on scuba tanks. He prefers to simply take a deep, calming breath and sink into the sea—often for more than two minutes at a time. “Free diving is completely silent and unaggressive,” he says. It sets sharks and dolphins at ease—and people, too.

Calver, 32, specializes in “splash” photography: action shots that catch the play of light near the surface. He has photographed world-champion free diver Pipin Ferreras, Cuban fly fishers, and snorkelers in Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park (see photos). His advice for novices? Use a wide-angle lens and get close to your subject.

   1. Main Camera and Waterproof Housing
   2. Deep-Water Camera
   3. Wet Suit, Fins, and Mask
   4. Carry Cases, Dry Bags, and Utility Kit

All prices in U.S. dollars

1. Main Camera and Waterproof Housing

Calver sheaths his favorite topside camera—Canon’s professional EOS (www.usa.canon.com), which lists for $2,900 but can be found for under $2,000—with a housing made by AquaTech ($1,695; (www.aquatech.com.au).

The system is rated to a depth of 15 feet [4.6 meters]—but he has used it effectively to 30 feet [9.1 meters].

2. Deep-Water Camera

The rugged, lightweight Nikonos V’s lineage begins with Jacques Cousteau, and the camera is rated to 160 feet [49 meters]. The Nikonos V remains the benchmark for pros despite being discontinued last year.

A novice-friendly option is the versatile, easy-to-use Sea & Sea MX-10 ($600; www.seaandsea.com).

3. Wet Suit, Fins, and Mask

To maintain his core temperature, Calver wears a thin, highly flexible Rip Curl 3/2 Ultimate Elasto wet suit ($299; www.ripcurl.com).

His Cressi-sub supersize Gara 2000 fins ($181; www.cressi-sub.it) help him generate power quickly. And his close-fitting, single-lens mask, the Oceanic Shadow ($80; www.divesource.com), allows for wide peripheral vision.

4. Carry Cases, Dry Bags, and Utility Kit

Calver carries his gear in watertight Pelican cases (www.pelican.com) of two sizes: the carry-on 1550 ($150) and the huge, wheeled 1650 ($260).

Other essentials include SealLine Baja dry bags ($12 to $32; www.cascadedesigns.com); packets of silica gel, the moisture absorber that comes in the box with new electronics; and a tube of extra-gooey Aloe Gator sunscreen, SPF 40. Says Calver, “You literally have to scrub it off.”

—Kalee Thompson

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Life Lesson

You get the best light transmission—and the best shots—where the water is clear and utterly flat, Calver says. If the sea is murky with sand near shore, head deeper.

“And no matter what direction the wind is blowing,” he says, “you can always find a sheltered place in the lee of the island.”


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July 2002:
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