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Rolling in the deep with Newsweek’s first animated cover

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Underwater photographer Hugh Gentry talks with popphoto.com about his work for Newsweek’s first animated cover.

Newsweek magazine has switched at the beginning of this year – after 80 year in print – to a full digital format. To mark its new beginning, they brought Hugh Gentry, a Hawaiian underwater photographer and film producer, to make their first animated cover. He shot the high-res footage and photographs at a depth of 120 feet, with a Canon 5DMark II and GoPro Hero3 action cam.

Video vs. stills: “I guess I was a natural choice

Hugh started off as a cameraman for a TV news channel, photography remaining just a hobby. As the digital era brought more and more gear, his work and hobby merged together. Thus, he became a World Photo Network contributor based in Hawaii and specialized in underwater work. As times and economy changed, his clients wondered if he could both shoot and film a certain material. As you can see, everything pointed to him when Newsweek had to do a material on the Hawaii Underwater Research Lab.

The rig: 5D Mark II and  GoPro Hero3

Hugh Gentry used for Newsweek’s material two different cameras. The GoPro was attached on the top of the dive housing, for the video part. He used a Canon 5D Mark II with a 20mm prime to shoot the stills. This way, he could shoot both the video and photos in one go. This configuration was needed, as a submarine starts descending pretty fast, once it’s in the water and ready to go. He also states that 4K gear might not be suited to be used, as moving pictures need greater ISO, thus the stills might be of lower quality.

The underwater shot

The photographer had a difficult time, not while underwater, but rather when preparing to dive. Because of the rough seas and the massive research boat, he had to first climb onto a Zodiac inflatable boat. After battling with the waves and a 20 not wind, the underwater world was a lot calmer. The shots were taken at a depth of around 110 feet, with natural light. Hugh says:

“They wanted it to look as natural as possible. But, it was a nice sunny day and the water was super clear out there. We wanted to make it look like we were at the bottom of the sea”.

Tips for the passionate

The Hawaiian photographer advises the starters to try to know their limits. Also while keeping that in mind, they should get as close as possible, but without zoom, as putting water in between the camera and the subject will make the images blurry. Also the passionate for underwater photography should try to avoid murky waters.

“The biggest thing is to know your limits. It’s really easy to get into trouble fast. I come from a surfing and windsurfing background, so I’ve been in the ocean for most of my life. But really the best tip is to get as close as you can“

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