The breathless pursuit of underwater photography in Cebu

The breathless pursuit of underwater photography in Cebu

For countless moments, a world without photographers dims life’s beauty. Even in the depths of the ocean’s darkness, they capture its magnificence, achieving what land-bound photography could never dream. Their tools of the trade? A great pair of lungs and a good understanding of the waters.

Gerard Restly M. Morpos, the brain behind the online photography platform “rardough,” wants one to know: there’s no such thing as a perfect shot underwater, just those perfect moments when freedivers are having fun in the deep blue. At just 23, Gerard dove into this discipline in 2022, discovering the beauty of visuals beneath the ocean’s surface.

“I started freediving in 2022 and after discovering what freediving is, I started to do my research for underwater photos and how it worked. So from there I did a lot of research about it from cameras, different types of housing and the post-processing of the image,” said Gerard in a digital interview.

The Process

When Gerard first dipped his toes into this medium, he learned the ropes from scratch. They say everyone has to start somewhere and what matters most is enjoying things while learning. Line training, according to him, is the best practice for beginners.

Line training in diving, especially in freediving, entails descending and ascending along a weighted line secured either to the surface or the seabed. It’s a crucial exercise aimed at refining equalization techniques and enhancing breath-holding capacity.

Gerard, affiliated with Pacific Blue Freediving, a freediving school, said that participating in introduction or enrollment clinics is an excellent method to gain immersion in the world of underwater photography.

“Pacific Blue Freediving, where the team offers free line training after you took the intro classes to freediving. To enjoy a fun dive is we need to be as relaxed as possible, release all the tension in our body and to trust our own self and our equalization,” said Gerard.

Once he learned the breathing and techniques, Gerard began to push the limits of his camera’s capabilities. Underwater, his essentials include a low-volume mask, a trusty camera and a pair of fins.

“Action cams, SLR, DSLR, with underwater housing of course and try to master what you have. Explore more about your camera and know more about how to handle your camera. It’s not necessary to upgrade, but if you have the funds, then go where your heart feels at ease,” said Gerard.

Light behaves uniquely underwater, presenting challenges for photographers. Understanding the science of it is key to creating good shots. Factors like depth, water clarity and time of day all influence how light interacts with your subject.

Aside from that, unpredictable currents add complexity to underwater photography according to Gerard. These challenges demand both defiance and adaptability that will push the photographer to make room for creativity and unique perspectives.

The Places

Gerard’s underwater photos are a colorful journey through the ocean. He has a collection of underwater photos ranging from portrait shots of divers, sports diving, expansive underwater scenes, close-up shots, action shots of divers going up and below and split-level shots.

His exploration of pristine reefs and hidden caves in the southern region of Cebu led him to discover thriving coral reefs and largely uncharted underwater landscapes.

Gerard’s journey of mastering his craft has taken him on a thrilling adventure through Moalboal, Catmon, Tabogon, Boljoon, Oslob and Lapu-Lapu. He believes in the potential of these areas to emerge as sought-after destinations for both freedivers and scuba enthusiasts in the years to come.

Now, his page @rardough on both Instagram and Facebook is a living memory of shots that serve as a reminder of how passion and enjoyment for underwater photography can change a person’s world. In the end, it is the depths of silence where beauty speaks the loudest and Gerard has found a way to capture that. S


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