Von Wong's Incredible Underwater Photo Shoot Part II: How He Did It

Last month we shared a really impressive project of an underwater shoot in Bali done by my friend and conceptual photographer Benjamin Von Wong. He stated then that was only part one and that part two would be coming soon. Well, soon is here and he's sharing more technical aspects of how he made the project come to life. Ben goes into great detail about how he made the project come together, from planning and pulling in the staff to how he shot and worked with the challenging environment. 

I learned that I would be able to shoot at ISO 400, f4.0 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/50th across most of the shipwreck with nothing but ambient light alone, even at 30 meters depth. In regular english? Images that wouldn’t be blurry or excessively grainy despite the 5 year old Nikon D90 that I was using.

A challenge that is easily overlooked? How colors react to different depths.

One of the challenges shooting underwater is that the deeper you get, the more desaturated everything gets. Thankfully, with a couple layers of color balancing (Color Balance, Curves, Selective Color), dodging and burning, and some careful masking, I was able to paint back color and tones into my image. 

To read his full breakdown and see more of the great images he produced, make sure you head over to his blog.  

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Chris Blair's picture

Ha, just watched this on Youtube yesterday. Great video, thanks for sharing Jaron. I never thought to shoot underwater, that Ben is always a great inspiration.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I really want to do an underwater video shoot at some point. Should probably learn how to scuba dive first though.

Chris Blair's picture

I got the scuba thing down, maybe I should get one of those camera water bags/boxes. I wonder if wireless triggers work underwater? I guess you could use sync cords.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I know that there has been some difficulty with pocketwizards under or around water. Phottix doesn't seem to have an issue though, but my tests have only been above water. Underwater might really reduce any wireless trigger's range and efficiency.

Von Wong's picture

Radio waves don't travel underwater it won't work!

Chris Blair's picture

Thanks... back to the drawing board.

Christian Berens's picture

The one thing it doesn't point out but is implied is how organized they were for this! Von Wong mentioned that everything fell into place, but his experience and knowledge helped as well! Bravo! Well done! Such a complicated shoot looks "easy." Amazing

My favorite work of his so far

Jaron Schneider's picture

Agreed. This greatly surpasses the quality of what he's done in the past, and that's not to say the work in the past was low quality by any means.

John White's picture

This is pretty cool. I would love to shoot underwater one day.

Paul Bradley's picture

This so makes me what to shoot something underwater!

Richard Atwood's picture

Very cool! Thanks for sharing this! I have always been around aquatics but have never gotten to shoot underwater....that would be awesome.

Patrick Ormerod's picture

When I this video first posted I thought to myself, “meh, already saw this shoot, how could there be a part 2?” Well, thankfully I don’t always listen to myself because this is probably the best BTS video yet. Not because of the BTS footage but because of what is said and can be gleaned from this. This shoot wasn’t meticulously planned out over the course of months. It was done in four days. It shows how Ben’s experience and knowledge prepared him, how his social network provided leads and filled gaps, it showed that passionate helpers are sometimes more important than qualified helpers. The moral of the story: it takes more than a good idea to make a great photoshoot!

Awesome job! I am newbie in underwater and impressed with your work!

Daniel Pryce's picture

Finally, that unit on underwater photography might become useful.

Steve Johnston's picture

awe inspiring

Todd Douglas's picture

Absolutely amazing work and collaboration. It's been mentioned, but Ben's passion is super motivating and inspiring!