Mick Gleissner Underwater Fashion Photographer

Mick's Techniques
Mick Gleissner Underwater Fashion Photography Techniques
Water envelops three quarters of the Earth, making majority of the Earth's solid surface an abyssal plain plunged 4,000 to 5,500 meters below the surface of the oceans. The deepest point of this plain is the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench, with a depth of 10,924 meters under the sea.

This unfamiliar environment is hostile to humans in many ways, but man's penchant for treading uncharted territory has made it an area of a number of human activities.

The Disparities
While 21% of atmospheric air is oxygen, the underwater environment contains less than 0.001% dissolved oxygen. This presents the first and most obvious obstacle to any human activity under water - the inability of Doctor Underwaterhuman lungs to naturally function in the underwater environment. Unlike fish that are able to rapidly move water in and out of their gills, man has lungs that are built for the exchange of gases at atmospheric pressure.

Air pressure felt on land is only 101 kilopascals (14.7 pounds per square inch). Swim 10 meters (9.8 meters for sea water) underwater and the pressure exerted on you is doubled - at 200 kilopascals or 2 atmospheres. Water pressure is a result of its density, which is about 800 times more than the density of air. While the density of air is at 0.08 per cubic foot, seawater is at 64 pounds per cubic foot.

Density, in turn, gives way to another obstacle - fatigue. The greater the density, the more resistance you will have to exert to move and, consequentially, the greater the fatigue.

On the other hand, increasing depth diminishes light and changes the color spectrum. At 10 meters down the open ocean, not even 25% of surface light will be seen. At 100 meters the light present from the sun will be about 0.5% of that on the surface.

Water conducts heat almost 25% more efficiently than air, making it quick in absorbing the sun's energy and causing the sun to have little effect on Basketball Underwaterwater temperature at depths greater than a few hundred meters. This leads to hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the colder temperatures of the surrounding water brings the body's core temperature below 35 Degrees Celsius.

Additionally, the human brain determines the direction of sound in air (which travels at 330 meters per second) by detecting small differences in the time it takes for sound waves to reach each of the two ears. Figuring out the direction of sound isn't so easy in the underwater environment, as water transmits sound 4.5 times faster - at 1,435 meters per second. What's more, it will be hard to hear what your companion has to say, as it is impossible to speak (much less shout) under water without drowning.

Underwater Fashion Photography
The professionals make it look easy, but underwater photography is an elaborate production with many Action Underwaterlimitations to deal with. Travel, natural light, visibility, equipment selection and time are all limited. Communication is most especially limited and, without special training, a model's skills will be greatly limited as well. To successfully pull off an underwater fashion shoot, a great amount of directing must come before it. This vital procedure will sequentially involve a long meticulous process of preparing and briefing.

Many factors come into play in the production of Mick Gleissner's Underwater Fashion Photography.

Underwater Set Design
Unique to Mick Gleissner's Underwater Fashion Photography is the underwater set design. Mick first presents his vision to the storyboard artist, who then creates elaborate visuals for the models. The artist's storyboards illustrate specific poses for each of the models as well as their placements within the set design.

Creating designs that will hold ground in an underwater environment of extraordinary pressure and current, takes days of trial-and-error; and demands tremendous creativity, engineering and perseverance.

Case in point is Mick's 2005 Nautical Angels underwater shoot, which called for a marine recreation of a basketball headboard, bench press and boxing ring. In the example of the boxing ring, Chief Set Designer Alfred Alesna first erected Underwater Modelfour poles on the seabed, which he used as the platform. Dissatisfied with the unkempt look of sea grass, Mick requested a different platform for the models to pose on - a red carpet. Keeping the buoyant red carpet planted on the sea floor would prove to be an enormous challenge.

After many creative but failed attempts, Alesna achieved success by mounting the carpet on a specially built steel platform. The platform was supported by steel poles and anchored by lead weights, and the poles were firmly secured on the scaffold and the ground by fishing lines. The scaffold was lowered onto the sea bottom by four divers using lift bags to control the descent of the heavy steel. Hooks were then used to secure the ropes to the poles.

Soon after the scaffold hit the sea floor, a minor problem surfaced: the buoyant ropes were floating upward rather than hanging down as they do on land. Alesna applied the final remedy: see-through fishing lines strategically tied to the ropes and the sea floor to force the ropes down.

At last, there stood the product, ready and raring to be photographed - the underwater version of the popular boxing ring, standing out in the mute lighting of the undersea with its bright blue ropes and bright red platform.

Meanwhile, the subject of the photographs, the models, will have to undergo rigorous training in relaxation, breath-holding, bubble-making and strategic hair movement.

The relaxation training teaches the model to pose in the challenging underwater environment without looking tense or panicky, while breath-holding training will help her extend her time underwater. Acquiring both skills will result in the model posing for a higher number of shots per shooting window. Umbrella UnderwaterThe model also has to learn to release bubbles at a particular pace (as too many bubbles can block her face altogether) and strategically move her hair so that it floats away from her face.

The ideal shot captures a model that is relaxed and posing in the right place with eyes open. There must also be the stamp of proof that the shot took place underwater: the model's hair floats upward and away from her face, and bubbles rise just above her head.

Traditional Underwater Barbelphotography allows a relatively easy and accessible changing of camera lens that is not possible with underwater photography. Consequentially, one camera with an underwater housing can be fitted for only one single-sized lens.

Mick usually descends with one camera, having decided ahead of time which lens he would use. In times when extra cameras are required, he will take up to three separate cameras with different lenses and housings.

Mick wears scuba gear in shots requiring mobility. For those that call for a static shooting angle, he wears custom-made shoes weighing 8 kilograms for greater negative buoyancy.

Weather Conditions
The underwater photographer is at the perpetual mercy of the weather. Moreover is the enormity of the sea, which presents an uncontrolled environment.

» Visibility
Good visibility and a clear sky provide the natural light needed in underwater photography. Visibility is greatly affected by the strength of the current, as the greater the current, the greater the sweep-up of sediment. This, in turn, causes the water to be murky. It is on such days that underwater shoots are simply not advisable.

In scheduling underwater photo shoots, Mick and his team study the size and direction of currents using tide and timetable predictions provided by the Coast Guard.

» Tides and Currents
The gravitational force between Earth and the Moon creates tides. The ocean constantly moves from high tide to low tide and back, at the rate of two high tides and two low tides each day, with about 12 hours and 25 minutes between the two high tides.

Spring tides occur when the sun and moon are aligned. They cause exceptionally strong gravitational forces that create either very high or very low tides. On the other hand, neap tides happen when the sun and moon are not aligned. Their gravitational forces cancel each other out and the tides are not as dramatically high, nor low.

It is when the tide is at its highest and lowest that the current is low. This provides the ideal shooting time as visibility is high and the model will not have to fight the current to assume a natural pose.

Three divemasters are assigned to the model. One looks out for the model's safety and gives her air through a regulator; the second oversees the shoot and carries a spare tank; and the third handles props.

Breathing In-Between Shots
In an actual underwater shoot, the underwater photographer descends with the model, divemasters Reading Underwaterand a videographer, and every so often their movement will stir sediment and diminish visibility. This is most especially a problem for the first divemaster when he has to swim to the model to hand the regulator.

To remedy this particular problem, Mick's team built a device - which includes a long hose - that connects to the scuba tank and regulator. The device could then be quickly thrust towards the model, and the divemaster will not have to swim towards her and diminish visibility in process.

Water is Underwater Tennisquick to absorb the longer wavelengths of sunlight - red and orange, for instance. This absorption results in an extreme loss of color and contrast, and makes everything appear blue-green in color.

Underwater photographers solve this problem by combining two techniques - getting as close as possible to the subject, to minimize the horizontal loss of color; and using flash to restore any color lost vertically through the water column.

Mick uses two 100-watt Halogen lights to compensate for the color. Even with these lights, lighting conditions are still dim, so color correction is done in post-production to bring out the vibrant shades of the underwater environment.