Thinking of trying underwater photography? You're in for a treat.
"(It's) the finest hobby one could ever have," says Ernie Brooks II, president of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. "It offers the greatest joy, the greatest mystery, the most intrigue, and it's incredibly rewarding."
Before you plop overboard, here are a few snippets of advice from experienced underwater photographers aimed at helping you avoid the mistakes they made.
Get comfortable with diving first, says National Geographic contract photographer David Doubilet.
If you aren't a good diver, you will be fighting yourself, your equipment, the environment and everything else, which doesn't make for good pictures.
Doubilet recommends that you dive for at least a year before you take a camera down with you, then make sure that your first camera is a simple manual model so you can learn how to manipulate light, depth of field and other photo basics.
And shoot in black and white.
"You can shoot a lot of film for a lot less money" than using color, Doubilet says.
You can learn a lot from experienced underwater photographers, and probably the easiest way to do that in Ventura County is to join the Channel Islands Underwater Photographic Society.
The club has about 100 active members, many of them with plenty of expertise.
It meets on the second Wednesday of every month at the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club at Channel Islands Harbor. Meetings are free and everyone is welcome.
The club's annual fee is $25 the first year, $20 thereafter. Periodic seminars are offered, many of them geared to the beginner.
Along with their expertise, members are also willing, in some instances, to share their equipment, a real plus considering that the most basic package--underwater camera, strobe and wide-angle lens--generally costs from $750 to $1,000, and more sophisticated gear can easily run into the thousands.
The club also buys film in bulk, selling it to members at cost.
For more information, call 984-7759.