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by Bill and Mary Bunting

Reproduced from in focus 38. Oct. 1990

During the course of talks and lectures, I have discovered that one of the things which confuses and maybe even deters the would-be underwater photographer from pursuing the activity is the bewildering array of technical terms and jargon that he or she will encounter from the moment he or she mentions the possible purchase of a camera. After exhaustive research, based mainly on our own experiences, we are now able to offer clear, practical definitions for these phrases, which we hope will clarify the situation and assist the newcomer in understanding exactly what he or she is getting into.

Aperture - A hole

f-stop - A simple set of numbers relating to the size of the aperture. Naturally enough (to photographers anyway) the larger the number, the smaller the hole. Research so far has failed to reveal what the 'f' stands for but those with rolls and rolls of underexposed and overexposed film have a pretty good idea.

Shutter speed - This term is used in the same sense as Olympic records, lap times etc. and refers to how quickly the processing shop can close its shutters on spotting a photographer, clutching a roll of freshly exposed film. The current record, established in 1984, is held by a West Country branch of Boots, which closed in 1/125th of a second on spotting a photographer only ten yards away.

Film speed - A simple measurement of how long it takes for your camera to grow a thin coating of algae and dried salt after use. Used to be measured on the America scale - ASA (Actual Speed of Algae) but, as algae became metricated on entering the Common Market, is now measured by the Italian equivalent - ISO.

Depth of field - Term used in connection with photographs taken by land agents from selected angles to enhance the apparent size of farmland for sale. As such, can be ignored by underwater photographers (unless, of course, you are trying to swing a deal involving fields of eelgrass and the like)

Camera shake - The procedure generally adopted for removing water droplets from a flooded Nikonos.

Bracketing - Estimating the cost of the one presentable shot you have obtained e.g.

Roll of film £4.00 - 8.50
Camera Equipment £300.00 - 3,000.00
Travel (UK) £40.00 - 100.00
Diving Equipment £400.00 - 1,500.00
Boat hire £20.00 - 5,000.00
Air £0.50 - 3.50

Total £764.50 - 9,612.00

Therefore, cost of a photograph of grinning diver in a sub-aquatic snow storm comes within the £765 - 9,612 bracket.

Lens Cap - A warm woollen garment with ear flaps and festooned with diving badges. May be worn whilst Len is diving.

Lens Hood - If you are really cold, you could wear this when Len surfaces and demands his cap back.

Wide Angle - To be given to sharks and other beasties that look as though they might bite.

Close Up - The position to be in relation to that gorgeous young blonde diver who looks as though she might.

BSoUP - A derivation of the expression generally used to describe the visibility i.e. 'It's like B.... soup'.

Exposure value - Ignore this one. Nearly all underwater exposures have no commercial value at all.

Natural Light - A very common species in tropical waters such as the Red Sea, Maldives, Phuket etc. but extremely rare in Britain, although legend has it that some forms can be found in the shallows on hot sunny days. This legend probably has its origins in photographic mythology.

Note: Photographic mythology is an extensive and complex subject covering a great number of volumes and is far to lengthy to publish in a newsletter this size. However, regular readers of IN FOCUS will occasionally come across some of the more classic quotations and references within these pages.

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