In 2014 I had my first taste of underwater diving. I was on a family holiday and I happened across the experience of a lifetime. Within the first few minutes of that adventure I had decided that I wanted to be part of the diving world going forward. After countless dives and extensive training to become a scuba diving instructor, I made the decision to attend university. I knew that whatever I was going to study, I wanted it to involve my passion for Scuba.
In college I completed a media course that introduced me to the digital world of filming and photography, and this led to a whole new passion. I then started looking into courses at university level in the hope I could combine my two passions into one. I attended an open day at the University of Portsmouth, and I was delighted to hear that they were able to offer a unique optional module in underwater filming. I had not seen this offering anywhere else in the U.K and for me it was a no brainer, I had to enrol on BSc Television and Broadcasting. I bought myself a Go-Pro and started to practice for the education experience that was to come.
At this point I should state that all I knew before joining university was how to point and shoot a Go-Pro camera underwater. At the same time this was coinciding with my fascination with the BBC factual series Blue Planet II, and I was amazed and intrigued to find out how such amazing footage is captured. I was convinced that there was some sort of trickery at play, and perhaps some effect work in the post-production stage? I was convinced that you could not get that sort of quality from an underwater camera! I was so wrong!
The first day of this underwater filming module began. Excited, nervous and completely intrigued, we arrived at the Triton Scuba Diving Centre and got introduced to our instructor for the weekend. We were shown around a range of cameras, some that must have been older than me, and some that were brand new. It was so interesting to see how cameras had been adapted and upgraded throughout the years.
I quickly learnt that being underwater did not hinder any quality of shot you can create with a camera. With the power of an air-tight underwater housing and a small o-ring, you are able to do everything with a camera that you could do on land. I was amazed. Aperture, white balance and focus, and you are completely able to change them all, even at a depth of 40+ meters.
Over the next few days we were able to take these cameras under the water and have a go at creating our own film. Having to swim with 10kg on your back as well as balance a camera is a feeling that I will never forget. It was exhilarating. I had been diving for a long time, but being underwater and having a camera in your hands is like trying to learn how to ride a bike all over again. Challenge accepted! I managed to get the hang of it relatively quickly, and thankfully it wasn’t as difficult as I first thought. Within a very short period of time we had managed to shoot, edit and complete a film that we were all very proud of.
To summarise my experience on the underwater filming module, I would say to anyone that if you like filmmaking, camera and/or photography, this unique module (nobody else in the world offers such a university/external company learning experience like this - trust me, I’ve looked!) will lead you to a completely different world. I started the module not believing it was possible to film underwater and achieve amazing, high-quality footage, and I was quickly proved very wrong. Who’d of thought that I would be able to find two different passions in life and be able to combine them at university level?