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the ar t galler y

underwater por traiture

by

elena kalis

of

ontario


underwater por traiture

by

aquatica

by

elena kalis

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

exhibited

at

the ar t galler y m a r c h 13th

to

of

a p r i l 13th 2009

ontario

of

ontario


2 aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

contents

curtator’s message page five

a quiet death page twenty

wonder girl page eight

picnic page twenty two

the taming of the shark page ten

breaking the surface page twenty four

red fan page fourteen

gallery page twenty six

of

ontario

superheros page sixteen falling backwards page eighteen

left just breathe

may 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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6

aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

c u r a t o r ’s m e s s a g e

of

ontario

the ago has been collecting photographic works since the 1970s and now holds more than 40,000 images in its collection. In recent years, the Gallery has received several gifts of major photographic collections, including a significant group of 1850s prints by British photographer Linnaeus Tripe, nearly 1,000 vintage photographsby renowned Czech photographer Josef Sudek, and nearly 20,000 original photos from the Klinsky Press Agency taken in the 1930s and 40s. The photography collection at the AGO is installed in the Betty Ann & R. Fraser Elliott Gallery. Five themes in the installation – pioneer, perform, document, remember and wonder – allow visitors to make connections between the many historical and contemporary images captured by photographers, both famous an of lesser renown but worthy of attention for their art and imagination.

Each themed area is bridged with touchstone images by Elena Kalis, Lotte Jacobi, Henri CartierBresson, Edward Burtynsky, stereographs of Egypt, and the extraordinary albums of the 1851 Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace

left dolphin rides

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

of

ontario

lion rider

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

left falconess

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

bottom gueniviere

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

of

ontario

underwater imaging is considered an especially challenging area of photography, since it requires very specialized equipment and techniques to be successful. Despite these challenges, it offers the possibility of many exciting and rare photographic opportunities. Animals such as fish and marine mammals are the most common subjects, but photographers also pursue shipwrecks, submerged cave systems, underwater “landscapes”, and portraits of fellow divers. The primary obstacle faced by underwater photographers is the extreme loss of color and contrast when submerged to any significant depth. The longer wavelengths of sunlight (such as red or orange) are absorbed quickly by the surrounding water, so even to the naked eye everything appears blue-green in color. The loss of color not only increases vertically through the water column, but also horizontally, so subjects further away from the camera will also appear colorless and indistinct.   This effect is true even in apparently clear water, such as that found around tropical coral reefs. Wide-angle shot of coral reef in East Timor. Underwater photographers solves this problem by combining two techniques: The first is to get the camera as close to the photographic subject as possible, minimizing the horizontal loss of color. This is best achieved by using wideangle lenses, which allow very close focus, or macro lenses, where the subject is often only inches away from the camera. In practical terms, serious underwater photographers consider any more than about 3 ft/1 m of water between camera and subject to be unacceptable. The second technique is the use of flash to restore any color lost vertically through the water column. Fill-flash, used effectively, will “paint” in any missing colors by providing full-spectrum visible light to the overall exposure.    Since underwater photography is often performed while scuba diving, it is important that the diver-photographer be sufficiently skilled so that it remains a reasonably safe activity. Good scuba technique also has an impact on the quality of images, since marine life is less likely to be scared away by a calm diver, and the environment is less likely to be damaged or disturbed. There is the possibility of encountering poor conditions, such as heavy currents, tidal flow, or poor visibility.  Generally, underwater photographers try to avoid these situations whenever possible. Underwater photographers have several basic options for equipment: A compact digital point and shoot camera, a compact digital camera with full exposure controls, and an SLR. 9


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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

of

ontario

fly away

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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left shark tamer

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas 12

aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

top flying

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

bottom little wonder girl

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

of

ontario

housings are specific to the camera and are made of several things from inexpensive plastic to high-priced aluminum cases. Housings allow many options, since the user can choose a housing specific to their everyday “land” camera, as well as utilize any lens in their collection. In practice, underwater photographers generally use either wide-angle lenses or macro lenses, both of which allow close focus, thereby eliminating the need to have excessive water between the camera and subject. Digital media can hold many more shots than standard photographic film (which rarely holds more than 36 frames). This is one of the primary advantages of using digital camera underwater, since it is impossible to change photographic film underwater. The instant feedback provides faster learning and improved creativity, which is why virtually all underwater photographers now use digital cameras.   All underwater housings are outfitted with controls knobs that access the camera inside, giving the photographer use of most of its normal functions. These housings may also have connectors to attach external flash units. Some basic housings allow the use of the flash on the camera, but the on-board flash may not be sufficiently powerful and are improperly placed for underwater applications. More advanced housings either redirect the on-board strobe to fire a slave strobe via a fiber optic cable, or physically prevent the use of the on-board strobe. Housings are made waterproof through a system of silicone o-rings at all the crucial joints. There are optical issues with using cameras inside a watertight housing. Because of refraction, the image coming through the glass port will be distorted, in particular when using wide-angle lenses.   The solution is to use a dome-shaped or fish-eye port, which corrects this distortion. Most manufacturers make these dome ports for their housings, often designing them to be used with specific lenses to maximize their effectiveness. The Nikonos series allowed the use of water contact optics: ie, lenses designed to be used whilst submerged, without the ability to focus correctly when used in air. There is also a problem with some digital cameras which do not have sufficiently wide lenses built into the camera. To solve this, there are housings made with supplementary optics in addition to the dome port, making the apparent angle of view wider. Some housings also allow for the use of wet-coupled lenses, which thread on to the exterior of the lens port and increase the field of view. These wet-coupled lenses may be added or removed underwater, allowing for both macro and wide angle photography on the same dive. With macro lenses, the distortion caused by refraction is not an issue, so normally a simple flat glass port is used. In fact, refraction increases the magnification of a macro lens, so this is considered a benefit to the photographer of small subjects. 13


right circus

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

below kimono

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

of

ontario

the use of a flash or strobe is often regarded as the most difficult aspect of underwater photography. Some common misconceptions exist about the proper use of flash underwater, especially as it relates to wide-angle photography. Generally, the flash should be used to supplement the overall exposure and restore lost color, not as the primary light source. In situations such as the interior of caves or shipwrecks, wide-angle images can be 100% strobe light, but such situations are fairly rare. Usually, the photographer tries to create an aesthetic balance between the available sunlight and the strobe. Deep, dark or low visibility environments can make this balance more difficult, but the concept remains the same. Many modern cameras have simplified this process through various automatic exposure modes and the use of through-the-lens (TTL) metering. The increasing use of digital cameras has reduced the learning curve of underwater flash significantly, since the user can instantly review photos and make adjustments.    Color is absorbed as it travels through water, so that the deeper you are, the less reds, oranges and yellow colors remain. The strobe replaces that color. It also helps to provide shadow and texture, and is a valuable tool for creativitiy. An added complication is the phenomenon of backscatter, where the flash reflects off particles or plankton in the water. Even seemingly clear water contains enormous amounts of this particulate, even if it is not readily seen by the naked eye. The best technique for avoiding backscatter is positioning the strobe away from the axis of the camera lens. Ideally, this means the flash will not light up the water directly in front of the lens, but will still strike the subject. Various systems of jointed arms and attachments are used to make off-camera strobes easier to manipulate.    Macro image of a Whitemouth Moray Eel using 100% flash for the exposure/ When using macro lenses, photographers are much more likely to use 100% strobe light for the exposure. The subject is normally very close to the lens, and the available sunlight is usually not sufficient. Natural light photography underwater can be beautiful when done properly with subjects such as upward silhouettes, light beams, and large subjects such as whales. Although digital cameras have revolutionized many aspects of underwater imaging, it is unlikely that flash will ever be eliminated completely. From an aesthetic standpoint, the flash often adds “pop” and helps to highlight the subject. Ultimately the loss of color and contrast is a pervasive optical problem that cannot always be adjusted in software such as Photoshop. With macro lenses, the distortion caused by refraction is not an issue, so normally a simple flat glass port is used. 15


going under

july 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

of

ontario

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

top manatee

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

opposite life is fun

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

of

ontario

another format considered part of underwater photography is the over/under or split image; it is a composition that includes roughly half above the surface and half underwater. The traditional technique was pioneered by the National Geographic photographer David Doubilet, who used it to capture scenes above and below the surface simultaneously. Split images are popular in recreational scuba magazines, often showing divers swimming beneath a boat, or shallow coral reefs with the shoreline seen in the background.   Over/under shots do present some technical challenges beyond the scope of most underwater camera systems. Normally a wide-angle lens is used, similar to the way they are used in everyday underwater photography. However, the exposure value in the “air” part of the image is often quite different from the one underwater. There is also the problem of refraction in the underwater segment, and how it affects the overall focus in relation to the air segment. There are specialized split filters designed to compensate for both of these problems, as well as techniques for creating even exposure across the entire image. Some photographers will also rely on extremely wide or fisheye lenses, which have enough depth of field to overcome any differences in focus. Digital darkroom techniques can also be used to “splice” two images together, creating the appearance of an over/under shot.    Macro image of a Whitemouth Moray Eel using 100% flash for the exposure/ When using macro lenses, photographers are much more likely to use 100% strobe light for the exposure. The subject is normally very close to the lens, and the available sunlight is usually not sufficient. Natural light photography underwater can be beautiful when done properly with subjects such as upward silhouettes, light beams, and large subjects such as whales.   Although digital cameras have revolutionized many aspects of underwater imaging, it is unlikely that flash will ever be eliminated completely. From an aesthetic standpoint, the flash often adds “pop” and helps to highlight the subject. Ultimately the loss of color and contrast is a pervasive optical problem that cannot always be adjusted in software such as Photoshop. With macro lenses, the distortion caused by refraction is not an issue, so normally a simple flat glass port is used. Although a number of human activities are conducted underwater—such as research, scuba diving for work or recreation, or even underwater warfare with submarines—this very extensive environment on planet earth is hostile to humans in many ways and therefore little explored. An immediate obstacle to human activity under water is the fact that human lungs cannot naturally function in this environment. 19


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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

of

ontario

opposite native

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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right jellyfish

august 2008 photograph 90.7 x 71 cm the bahamas

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aquatica

by

elena kalis


the ar t galler y

of

ontario

the density of water also causes problems that increase dramatically with depth. The atmospheric pressure at the surface is 14.7 PSI or around 100 kPa. A comparable water pressure occurs at a depth of only 10 m (33 ft.) (9.8 m (32 ft) for sea water.) Thus, at about 10 m below the surface the water exerts twice the pressure (2 atmospheres or 200 kPa) on the body as air at surface level.    For solid objects like our bones and muscles, this added pressure is not much of a problem; but it is a problem for any air-filled spaces like the mouth, ears, paranasal sinuses and lungs. This is because the air in those spaces reduces in volume when under pressure and so does not provide those spaces with support from the higher outside pressure. Even at a depth of 8 feet (2.5 m) underwater, an inability to equalize air pressure in the middle ear with outside water pressure can cause pain, and the tympanic membrane can rupture at depths under 10 ft (3 m). The danger of pressure damage is greatest in shallow water because the rate of pressure change is greatest at the surface of the water. For example the pressure increase between the surface and 10 m (33 ft) is 100% (100 kPa to 200 kPa), but the pressure increase from 30 m (100 ft) to 40 m (130 ft) is only 25% (400 kPa to 500 kPa).   Any object immersed in water is provided with a buoyant force that counters the force of gravity, appearing to make the object less heavy. If the overall density of the object exceeds the density of water, the object sinks. If the overall density is less than the density of water, the object rises until it floats on the surface. Note the bluish cast given to objects in this underwater photo of pillow lava. (NOAA)    With increasing depth underwater, sunlight is absorbed, and the amount of visible light diminishes. Because absorption is greater for long wavelengths (red end of the visible spectrum) than for short wavelengths (blue end of the visible spectrum), the colour spectrum is rapidly altered with increasing depth. White objects at the surface appear bluish underwater, and red objects appear dark, even black. Although light penetration will be less if water is turbid, in the very clear water of the open ocean less than 25% of the surface light reaches a depth of 10 m (33 feet). At 100 m (330 ft) the light present from the sun is about 0.5% of that at the surface. The euphotic depth is the depth at which light intensity falls to 1% of the value at the surface.   This depth is dependent upon water clarity, being only a few meters underwater in a turbid estuary, but may reach 200 meters in the open ocean. At the euphotic depth, plants (such as phytoplankton) have no net energy gain from photosynthesis and thus cannot grow.

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“a series of photographic portraits that plunge the viewer deep into the r e a l m s o f c h i l d l i k e f a n t a s y. � -Catherine de Zegher

aquatica

by

elena kalis

Aquatica  

An Art Exhibition Catalogue mock up for my Editorial Design II class.