Last week we discussed saliva and keeping our wide-angle ports droplet-free. This week it's all about dry ports and keeping those 70-200mm photographs crisp and sharp.
A few years ago I made the exciting purchase of a 70-200mm port and subsequent housing. After years of only shooting wide angle surf photographs from the water, I was as excited as a cat with catnip to be taking the next step. Little did I know that it was going to be a frustrating and depressing first year. After months and months of trying everything, I could only get 50% of my photographs to be acceptably sharp. No matter what I did, or how much I salivated over my port, the photographs were just not consistently sharp. In fact most of the time the photographs were blurred.
Problem: Soft or unsharp photographs while shooting with a 70-200mm from the water.
Cure: A dry, dirt-free port. As strange as it may seem, when it comes to shooting with a longer lens in the water, the only way to capture consistently sharp photographs is to have the glass/perspex of your housing port free of any solution or substance. This is best achieved by extensively cleaning the port with toilet paper moments before entering the water. This removes any unwanted oily substances, and gives you a clean port which water can run off. Once you've made it out through the impact zone and you're set up down the line, give your port a good rub underwater with your finger tips before quickly picking up your housing out of the water and putting the port at a 45-90 degree angle. You should notice that the water runs down and off your port in a clean line, hopefully leaving no water droplets or water behind. Repeat this process if necessary until the port is dry and water free. Then you just need to keep your housing above water while you shoot. Should you need to duck-dive or some spray lands up on your housing, repeat the underwater rub-down.
Helpful Tip: When shooting with a 70-200mm, sitting on top of a bodyboard will give you the advantage in height and additional control over keeping the port dry. Just be sure to have an arm leash strapped to your wrist. I have already lost a good few bodyboards at places like The Factory and in The Western Sahara.
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