I love my underwater camera. It is a Pentax Optio W60. It is completely waterproof. I bought it eight years ago and I still use it all the time.
Swimming with the camera’s strap around my wrist, and the body gripped tightly in my hand, is the BEST feeling.
The act of taking underwater photographs is precious to me because it was one of my first awakenings to what art could do to the artist.
My First Underwater Camera
My first underwater camera was a gift in college. I was about to travel to the South Pacific to study abroad. I used a point-and-shoot 35mm film camera with Ewa-Marine underwater housing (similar to this model).
The hardest part was being limited to a 36-exposure roll of film. Taking pictures under water requires a lot of trial and error, so often the whole roll would be blurry, out of focus, or awkwardly cropped.
Before long, the underwater housing leaked and destroyed the point-and-shoot camera within, which I’d borrowed from my uncle and always felt bad about never returning.
My Current Camera: The Pentax Optio W60
After many years of saving money and waiting for technology to improve, I purchased a digital underwater camera on July 23, 2008.
Resembling a typical compact digital camera, the Pentax Optio W60 has no waterproof housing. The entire camera is waterproof.
The Unseen Details
When in the water, viewing the camera’s display or looking through the viewfinder is totally impractical.
It is an exercise in accepting partial blindness and embracing constantly changing images: understanding the camera and conditions of the water without being able to see what the camera sees.
When I review the photos, there are always surprises waiting: images that I never saw and could never plan.
Anytime there is a body of water, there is a water line, and the possibility of a cross-section photo where the water comes up on the lens: one world so close to another, and yet so totally different.
At the surface of a backyard pool, Redlands, CA, 2013. Taken with my Pentax Optio W60.
The view from the water
The camera doesn’t need to be waterproof to photograph great images out on the water. But if it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have had a camera with me at all.
The feeling of being in the water
I don’t love swimming as a sport: I enjoy the sensory experience of the water: the act of leaving the land and floating in a giant lens.
This feeling, and the photos, are enough to offset discomfort: the cold, the clothing hassles, the hours of wet hair.
I never get tired of it
Experimenting with my underwater cameras was my first exploration into how changing our sensors changes our experience of the world. Jumping into the water with my camera in tow can lift my mood like nothing else.
I never get tired of it.
All Photos by Emily Wick Unless Otherwise Noted