Recreating a High Speed Diving Underwater Photo

There are certain photographs that, when we look at them, make us think, “How did they do that?” Then there are others which, though they may be relatively simple at a glance, were surprisingly difficult to achieve. In his “Fake a Big Shot” video series, Kai Man Wong explores what goes into impressive photographs, and attempts to imitate them as a learning exercise:

In this episode, Wong is given the challenge of recreating a striking underwater shot of a diver taken by Chase Jarvis. He succeeds in finding a diver and a pool, but soon learns of two factors which will make the challenge more difficult: first, Jarvis took the original shot with the top-of-the-line Hasselblad H3D, while Wong will be recreating it using the more consumer-friendly GoPro Hero 3. Second, Jarvis’ shot was taken from a room with a glass view into the pool, whereas the only way for Wong to get the same effect under the circumstances is to actually be underwater.

Despite these hurdles, Wong managed to get a great-looking similar shot of his own.

recreate underwater shot

On the right is Jarvis’ original shot, while Wong’s version is on the left.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when attempting to take a photograph like this:

  • Timing is everything. While this is not a novel concept to any photographer, it is especially important to an action shot like this.
  • Trial and error is the name of the game– don’t expect to get the perfect shot after a few tries.
  • Try to eliminate as many variables as possible: hang on to the side of the pool to keep the camera steady, mark the spot where the diver should jump from, etc.
  • Keep a positive attitude. You and the person doing the diving will likely need to do the same thing dozens of times to get it right, so remember not to get frustrated!

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