It was to be nice, easy and pleasant … However, it turned out that underwater photographic projects is not a bed of roses. But let’s start from the beginning.
I have been following Ben von Wong’s fanpage for a long time. We have written a lot about his underwater enterprises and their amazing effects. Let me remind such articles (only in polish) as: 7 divers, 2 models and one wreck – an unusual underwater session in Bali; Ballantine’s plus a photographer equals an amazing underwater image and Underwater surrealist creates images in defense of sharks.
No one thought that von Wong would visit Poland, would come to Koparki … and Jolly Diver would support his underwater project! And yet, the unbelievable came true!
… And so did this incredible adventure begin
When Ben posted on his fanpage that he was looking for a place where a submerged excavator is located, I smiled. The comments below the post were rather skeptical. Without thinking too much I commented that I know where there is such a place – it is the popular „Koparki” in Poland. In addition, as an incentive, I added a link to the photographs of the excavators made by Irena Stangierska.
A few days later, Ben contacted me. What’s more, he was full of enthusiasm and zeal to perform an underwater photographic session in Poland. It seemed that this was likely, possible or even feasible in the near future because Ben was going to spend part of May and June that year in Europe. Ironically, in May, he was going to visit Germany, so he would be much closer to us than I expected. And so, there was only scheduling and planning left to be done…
Challenges – that is Poland…
We started with the planning and making Ben realise that the Polish water is not warm and transparent as in Bali. One of the key factors partly determining the logistics was the water temperature. During our first conversation it was only 5°C. Finally, during the session it rose to 14ºC.
Another challenge was the distance from the shore to the excavator. About 100 meters that the team covered partly on the surface and partly by a red boat, specially prepared for this occasion.
The last unknown was the visibility. We tracked closely the changes in the visibility in the vicinity of the smaller excavator. A week before the session it was about 10 m! Unfortunately, during our stay it was not so gracious. Just a few meters and after Ben and Karen’s stay it decreased to almost zero.
New underwater skills
I mean the skills which no self-respecting federation would be ashamed of. It turns out that the underwater sessions, in particular in very difficult conditions of Polish open waters, are filled with unexpected challenges. Even an experienced diver was forced to change the way of thinking or swimming.
Among the most interesting experiences it is worth to mention swimming with: a flag, a shovel, an artificial bead placed on a tripod or several lamps and batteries placed on a tripod.
We had plenty of ideas for fixing the underwater props. However, what proved to be irreplacale were the cable ties and the immortal silver adhesive tape.
I will mention some interesting solutions that facilitated our underwater work (at least in the opinion of those using it):
- taping the fingers of Ben’s black gloves with the silver tape allowed the team to notice what he was showing us from a larger distance
- the use of tripods – to set up the coral and the GRALmarine lights (thus the Wall-E was created, seen on the photo on the left). By the way, the Wall-E, in spite of the difficulties it caused during submergance and emergance, aroused widespread sympathy among the team members
- styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) which Ben used to innovatively unweight his legs/fins. This was to be a specific remedy for certain minor problems with trim and the resulting lifting of sediment from the bottom
- carabiners – popular in diving double enders were used to load the net so that it arranged itself nicely under water
Lights, more lights
Initially, during the online exchange of views and possible threats to the success of the project, Ben was against using any lights. He said that he had one of his own and that it would be more than enough.
Fortunately, I did not accept that … not only did we pack all our video lights, but also asked for hardware support from the Wroclaw GRALmarine company. Patrycja and Sebastian not only brought a lot of equipment, but also provided us with logistical help for two days, especially with an appropriate arrangement of lamps and support as a diver protecting the model.
All the lamps used in the Wong excavators project were produced by GRALmarine company. We used a total of more than 20 video lights, including LED 16 Duo video and the latest prototype lights that had not been introduced to mass sales yet.
I must admit that it is with the lights that we had the most work, because they had to be arranged not only in the right places, but also turned on and off several times a day so as to ensure that the power would not run out.
Finally, everyone agreed that the GRALmarine lamps did a good job and allowed for the effect that would not be possible to achieve in such conditions without their use. As you can see, you should not always listen to the master, sometimes you have to trust your intuition 😉
Prayer, by no means for rain …
Various shades of Ben
Sincere thanks go to all the companies and people involved in this project. With your help and support the project came to fruition!
To the diving base Via Sport Diving Marina Koparki in Jaworzno
for hosting the entire team during the photo session
for logistical support in the form of gases necessary for the execution of dives
for hospitality, extremely friendly atmosphere
for delicious dishes served directly on the battlefield and under the Koparkowe shelters.
To the GRALmarine company from Wroclaw
for technical support in the form of several video lights
for the help in the distribution of lamps under water
To the Waterproof Polska company
for the wetsuit for the model
for hardware support
Special thanks to all those who have devoted their time:
for bringing and rental of lamps
for underwater support in their arrangement
for logistical support on the land
for comprehensive support, including that associated with the GRALmarine lights
for the dedication and acting as a model
for the patience in relation to the model
for amusing remarks and unique sense of humor
for underwater backstage documentation
for humor and relieving emotions
for backstage documentation on the land
for logistical support on the land
for the rowing and steering the boat
Angelika Maria Almirall-Torrel Fürstler – the model
for being there
for daring to walk into and immerse in cold water
for logistical support and providing and transporting the red boat
for the peptalk and lending the underwater housing for Gosia
for backstage photos on the surface
but above all for logistical support, warming the model and boat transport
for backstage photos on the surface
for logistical support and transporting Ben and Karen from the airport
Get to know other, underwater projects of Ben von Wong (only in polish):
Special thanks to Paweł Czerowniak for english version of this article.
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