Photographer Adapts His Underwater Photo Gear to Take Pictures of Birds in His Garden During Lockdown

Despite the incredibly strict lockdown rules in his native Cape Town, one photographer is adapting to quarantine restrictions by utilizing his underwater equipment in order to take high-quality bird and wildlife pictures in his back garden.

Speaking to PetaPixel, photographer Steven Benjamin explained how South Africa is on so strict a lockdown that exercise of any kind – including dog walking – is not permitted. Despite the heavy restrictions, Benjamin says he looked for a project that would help keep him creative, and that making the birds his subject was the perfect choice given how much freedom they have.

In order to produce the portraits you see here, he has adapted his underwater photography workflow to function in ordinary circumstances. The set-up, he says, allows birds the freedom to drop in or leave whenever they wish.

The gear used in the set-up includes:

Recalling the procedure, which involved shooting at above 1/2000 to garner sharp results and to blacken the background, he said:

The birds did not like flash photography so I had to figure out how to get constant light onto them with my underwater video lights. However, the lights are meant to be underwater where they can cool down, so I have to turn them off often to prevent overheating and burning them. Then I had to get the birds used to being close to bright lights, which also took a while.

See more of Benjamin’s work at his website, or on Instagram.

All images courtesy Steven Benjamin, and used with permission.

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

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Very cool!

I'd think the birds would do whatever they wish no matter the set up!

Great series, thanks for sharing.