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Kanchi - Alternative Underwater Photography

By: Ryuijie

It's a glorious day when the mind discovers something new. For over thirty years I've been making sharp, toned, large format photographs of the landscape and still lifes. Then one day three years ago I found myself photographing underwater---a world where I had spent much of my youth, and a world most people will never experience.

These photographs were a collaboration with Camille Lenore, a fellow diver and photographer. Being able to express our experience and views of the underwater world has been amazing. We christened this body of work "Kanchi" ("The Quiet Place"). These images represent a bold new direction for me and have opened a new door to creativity.

Underwater Holga Underwater Holga Underwater Holga
Ryujie's hand-built 'Hydro-Holga' underwater camera housing. This is, as far as we know, the only true underwater housing built specifically for the Holga camera.

This time I am looking for a dreamy, grainy quality that would lack the specificity of my earlier work. We chose Nikonos V 35mm cameras with 15mm, 20mm, and 28mm lenses. To achieve grain and contrast we use very high speed film (Ilford Delta 3200) and develop it for up to 20 minutes in D23 developer. The negatives are then scanned and enlarged onto Pictorico film. These negatives are printed using NA2 palladium. This gives the photographs a warm color and allows expanded contrast control. Early on we printed with clean, straight edges, but later we decided to let the brush strokes show, to achieve a more impressionistic, hand-crafted feel.

This direction has been a surprise and a joy for me. This is the beauty of Art: inspiration pops up when you least expect it.