How photographers take underwater pictures of swimmers

How do photographers get those breathtaking underwater shots of swimmers? It takes $30,000 worth of equipment, a Scuba certification and lots of patience.

Photographers for wire services and magazines set up a photographic reef in the bottom of the London Aquatics Centre to take photos from below. They result in some of the most memorable pictures of the Olympics.

[ Photos: Best underwater shots from London ]

The New York Times explains:

Preparation is everything. Each camera has to be set up to focus on a specific race, or perhaps two lanes where a close finish is expected. Sometimes a camera will wait all day for a specific swimmer to splash into frame.

They use a handheld trigger to operate the shutter. It's connected, via cable, to the camera at the bottom of the pool. Now that cameras are all digital, almost as soon as they are taken, the images can be viewed on a laptop.

One of the most famous Olympic photographs in history was an underwater picture. It helped draw attention to the art of the shot. Sports Illustrated's Heinz Kluetmeier positioned his camera underneath the lanes of Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic during their final in the 100 butterfly in 2008. His progression of shots captured Phelps' miracle comeback. The pictures were part of Serbia's official protest.

Even the underwater pictures without historical importance tend to be fun shots.

The advantage to having cameras and cables at the bottom of the swimming pool means they're close to the diving well.

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