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The World’s First Large Format Underwater Polaroid Photo Shoot {NSFW}

By Hanssie on June 15th 2015

Warning: Images in this series feature nudity and may not be safe for work [NSFW]

Twin brothers Ian and Erick Regnard grew up in the water. Born on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and then moving to Australia in their teens, the two were inseparable. The pair became interested in surfing and photography when Erick bought a little Nikon camera to take photos of the surfers and soon created an international and very successful photography career. In 2005, a friend told the brothers about an island where you could see 60-100 meters underwater, so they decided to do an underwater photo shoot there.

Not knowing that it had never been done before, the two wanted to use large format film for the project. Finding that no one had any experience on how to make this happen, Ian and Erick did some research, bought a camera and rebuilt it for the project. Then they got custom built underwater housing for the 4×5 format, which was so large that it needed its own 15kg dive belt. The shoot became a two-part project: A Thousand Kisses Deep, which featured a nude model and some stingrays and was photographed in Tahiti, while the second part, Floating Bits was photographed with a single nude model in Nuie.

[REWIND: EXPERIMENTAL PHOTOGRAPHY: AMAZING UNDERWATER IMAGES USING A DESKTOP SCANNER]

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As you can imagine, photographing with a large format Polaroid underwater has its share of challenges. Aside from the sheer size of the equipment, they could only take one shot at a time. After each shot, they swam back up to the boat, reloaded the film and went under again. With the ability to only shoot one photo at a time, they had to be sure that the one they got was the one they wanted, but focusing while underwater was no easy feat either. Because of the refraction difference, they pair took some drastic measures (pun intended). Ian explains,

We did a few shot with a gigantic ruler and took photos at different measurements on the lens. Then we compared the distance on the lens to the distance focused on the ruler, and therefore established a table of distances to shoot. Then when it came time to shoot the model, she was given a tape measure that was fixed on my weight belt and she would go out to 3 metres and the lens was set prior for that distance underwater. I would then reel the tape and we would then go down together, with me trying to keep the same distance at all times and with her doing what she would do best… posing.

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ricou_is_that_you_ianerickregnardIan and Erick have won numerous prestigious awards with the images from this session and now, in between commercial, advertising, and editorial work, the brothers try to find time pursuing their passion with personal, artistic projects.

You can follow them on Instagram @justshootingstuff and @iananderick and see more of their work on their website here.

[Via Pryme]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. J. Dennis Thomas

    Pretty amazing stuff.

    Now I’d like to see them try it with that 20X24 Polaroid. ;)

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  2. Jeff Morrison

    thanks for sharing…

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  3. Erick Regnard

    Hi Jesper,

    Hi Jesper,
    No I haven’t posted anything in too much of a hi-res on the web due to people stealing images… we were shooting at a pretty small depth of field in fact F5.6 to have it corectly exposed on the neg. PN 55 is a 50 ASA film but need to be overexposed 1 stop to get the Neg correctly exposed + having to allocate losing 1 stop going underwater resulted of 1/125 at f5.6. Shooting with a 90mm helped with the depth of field but there are only part of the subject that are focus….

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  4. Jesper Ek

    Amazing with the format realy giving an extra punch to images!

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    • Erick Regnard

      Hi Jesper,
      No I haven’t posted anything in too much of a hi-res on the web due to people stealing images… we were shooting at a pretty small depth of field in fact F5.6 to have it corectly exposed on the neg. PN 55 is a 50 ASA film but need to be overexposed 1 stop to get the Neg correctly exposed + having to allocate losing 1 stop going underwater resulted of 1/125 at f5.6. Shooting with a 90mm helped with the depth of field but there are only part of the subject that are focus….

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  5. Ralph Hightower

    Okay, I like these photos and the extent that they went through to work out the mechanics of working with 4×5. I was wondering how they changed film underwater; they don’t. Or how they focused the lens. Although, they didn’t explain how they came about the process of setting aperture and shutter speed. I’m impressed for their effort.

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    • Erick Regnard

      Hi Ralph,

      Each time a shot was taken the underwater housing was brought back to the surface, dried, open, Polaroid taken out and a new polaroid put into the holder.
      the focused was pre-determined on land already as you obviously cannot see through the back of the camera once the film has been inserted.
      We have shot a lot under water in the past so we knew what would be our setting underwater from our light meter reading above the water. It all depends on your depth as the light reduces the further you go down underwater.

      Hope these answers your questions Ralph!

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    • Jesper Ek

      Über cool!

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    • Jesper Ek

      Hi Erick,

      Do you have any of the photos in larger size somewhere online so that we can see details?

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    Not sure the use of a large format polaroid is what makes these photos so good. Don’t get me wrong. Hat’s off for all the work involved but was it just because you can? Composition and light seem to be the strength. Could the same results be achieved with almost any other camera? Love the creativity! Please don’t take this as criticizing the photographers. The images are beautiful.

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    • Erick Regnard

      Hi Chuck, I think it was the challenge that attracted us to the project in the first place…. and don’t worry we don’t think that you are criticizing us

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  7. Barry Chapman

    Not sure how to edit here (should have added it to my comment above) but that lead photo is amazing!

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  8. Barry Chapman

    “was photographed off the island of Fuji” They made great film but they didn’t buy Fiji.

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    • Hanssie

      What do you expect from a Fuji shooter? I have Fuji on the brain at all times :)

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