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Photographing an Upside-Down World Underwater


Swinging under the sea

As the years pass by, our children use the pool less and less. I needed to compensate. I have always had a fascination for concepts that make it difficult to tell up from down or make sense of gravity. This summer, I started a new series: The Underside. I recreated, just below the surface, activities one normally expects above.

I made the reflective surface of the water a virtual ground on which I staged my concepts. This required a lot of upside-down swimming, often accompanied by a fair share of water up the nostrils, at least for the my subjects (I had goggles myself). But let’s put that on the account of interesting stories to recollect.

The joy of house chores

I also had my fair share of stories. For instance when demonstrating to Cassandra how to iron my shirts, I let go of the iron when I needed air. Little did I remember that I was upside-down, and it hit my goggles.

This is more determination than I could ever envision ironing my own shirts!

Other times a horse would resist submersion and a sophisticated structure above water, attached to a ladder running across the pool was necessary. With each concept, the experimentation and the search for solutions lead to new learnings.

(with Iara Mandyn)

Although I often resort to post-processing to pick the best water splash or reposition accessories, I strive to always shoot the full concept in-situ.


Underwater photography is a hobby that could make a dent in your budget. I decided to keep it under control. I work with an affordable speedlight placed in a recycled 40 Oz container of mixed nuts (Kirkland, to be precise). The speedlight is then triggered via a Toslink optical cable that I run from my camera. Only one speedlight has walked the plank so far!


I certainly like when my images have a story to tell. But I like it even more when my subject has one to remember as well.

(with Louise)

About the author: Eric Raeber is a photographer and engineer, living the San Francisco Bay Area. You can see more from this series on his website or follow him on Instagram or Facebook.