When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea. I immediately fell in love with the ocean and I'm pretty sure I owned a snorkel mask before I owned a watch. We got our Scuba certification as a family when I was thirteen and to this day the tropical ocean feels more like home to me than pretty much anywhere with a street address. After moving to Israel in 2011, my wife and I celebrated our honeymoon in Eilat, a city on the northern end of the Red Sea, known locally as the Gulf of Aqaba. Putting up with the crowds of loud, boorish Israelis during the and it was on one of these dives that I decided to rent an underwater camera and shoot some video during the dive. The camera was old and awkward and the footage was a dismal 640x480 but suddenly a connection was made between my love for the ocean and this crazy new idea I had of making a career in videography. You can watch that video here.
Fast forward two years and a post-exam trip back to Eilat was the perfect opportunity to test out a shiny new piece of tech. I bought the Pentax WG-2 back in December for a number of reasons. First, the rugged construction means not only can I use it in the desert and underwater but I can also carry it in my cargo pocket everywhere I go and it will survive the knocks and daily abuse. It shoots at full 1080p HD (as well as 60fps at 720p) and has a built-in time lapse function which is both flexible and visually impressive. The WG-2 is also waterproof down to 12m which is deep enough to safely take it on shallow-to-medium Scuba dives. I've gone free diving with it down to fifteen meters safely which puts it in a class above most recreational underwater cameras.
For this last trip to Eilat, I also brought along my small Gorilla-Pod. On my first snorkel tests with the camera, I realized that if I set the camera up on the seabed and left it there, I could get much more natural close-up footage of animal life underwater that simply wasn't possible with a big human floating behind the camera. I could also dive deep, position the camera and then return to the surface and watch from an unobtrusive distance while the camera recorded. This allowed me to set up shots at depths normally reserved for Scuba divers but without being limited in time to the capacity of an oxygen cylinder. I could go out for two hours at a time and the flexible tripod allowed me to position the camera in weird places and ensure that the camera would stay stable when I was positioning it extremely close to fish or coral.
The results were fantastic. It took me a couple days to start going through the footage on my computer when I got home but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something with it. I've been filming desert plants and animals over the last year and a half with the intention of making a video about wild life in the Negev desert. At this point I think I'm going to use all the footage to create a short video series under the title of myEARTH. This episode is called "Beneath the Surface" so perhaps the desert episode will by "Beneath the Sun" and I can continue the name trend for other biomes. I've always said that the best thing about filming plants is that you don't have to fill out release forms. Same goes for fish luckily.
At any rate, I'm very proud of this video and how well the camera-and-tripod system performed. The Red Sea Underwater Photography Competition is being held the first week of November in Eilat so I'm hoping to take part this year. Enjoy the video and please, watch it in HD like the director intended. Cheers.