04 April 2005

The Dive At Machu Picchu

I learned to scuba dive, not super deep in an avoid-the-bends type of way, but with enough understanding to swim at relatively shallow depths for prolonged periods. My gear was spread around me as I prepared for a simple solo dive. Since I would be near the surface (and hence the sun), I was taking my camera with me. I flicked a few drops of water on the interior seal of the underwater camera housing; the sensor started beeping loudly so I wiped it dry and then secured my camera within.

With a splash, I plunged below the surface. The water was cold but my dry suit kept me comfortable. Overhead, an old stone bridge cast a deep shadow through the water. The bridge shimmered against the sky, a complement of afternoon gold to the vibrant blue; I rolled back to my shadowy course. A slash of sunlight illumined the first step pyramid of Machu Picchu. The ruins of the Aztec civilization stretched a few hundred feet across the floor of the lagoon. Though I could see without difficulty, the dappled sunrays were too sparse to provide enough light by which to photograph; I swam on considering the layout of the buildings in relation to compass headings and surmised that a few hours earlier in the day would provide the optimum light for shooting on a subsequent day.

As I made my way back over the ruins, I noticed the sun had shifted to my advantage on the first structures I’d encountered. The camera was difficult to adjust through the casing, but I managed to snap off a few shots, the advance mechanism reluctantly lurching the film forward. The photos would be good test cases for exposure and camera performance underwater, but their processing and assessment would have to wait: I was due back for a deeper dive at another site with a large group for whom I would direct filming.

NB: Machu Picchu is part of ancient Incan civilization, and it’s not underwater either– it just happened to be both in my dream.

tags: , , , , ,