Beneath the surface – What you see is what you get?

Ok, Time to tackle the first task in Unit 2 of the Foundation diploma course. The theme is ‘Beneath the surface’. To be honest my initial feelings when given this brief were not of excitement and inspiration as I would have hoped, and like most people, in my mind I jumped to all the obvious conclusions when asked about ideas for the ‘meaning’ of the theme.

For the next 6 hours , worryingly, the best I could come up with was ‘underwater things’ and ‘deep feelings/emotions’ and well….since I can’t see or touch my inner Psyche that idea went out the window, (how can I draw it if I can’t see it?).  I did start to feel like I was I looking for something that isn’t there. As much as a project about all things under the sea would be very exciting for me as a qualified PADI Divemaster it didn’t seem very ‘arty’ or deep.

So I start to think about diving, I haven’t had a chance to go out for dive recently….

In Scuba diving some of the first things you learn about is the physical properties of water and how water affects your body. It’s common knowledge to all scuba divers that water absorbs light (very important for anyone interested in underwater photography) and objects underwater appear 33% larger than on the surface due to refraction of light (but now isn’t the time for a physics lesson)… which reminded me of the very famous Iceberg photograph by Ralph A. Clevenger.

The picture of a full iceberg has been circulating the internet for a few years now and if you didn’t know already, its not a picture of a real iceberg. This image has been manipulated and is ‘’a composite of 4 different photographs’’ (

“I created the image as a way of illustrating the concept of what you get is not necessarily what you see. As a professional photographer I knew that I couldn’t get an actual shot of an iceberg the way I envisioned it, so I created the final image by compositing several images I had taken’’ ( Clevenger, R A.,

This picture is a favourite of mine for two reasons:

A – Its an impressive piece of photo manipulation which interests me from a technical point of view and inspires me to employ and experiment with similar techniques in Adobe Photoshop.

B- The quote from the artist ‘’what you get is not necessarily what you see’’ has both physical meaning and in philosophical meaning and it also relates to the brief title.

I chose to share this image as a piece that I believe represents conflict because it is a very dramatic picture with a clear message. Although it can be argued that this is a harmonious piece due to the colour scheme and the fact that the Iceberg is a naturally made object in harmonious surrounding (clear blue sky, calm water) it still takes you by surprise when you first lay eyes on the full picture.

Re-discovering the works of Ralph A. Clevenger has felt like I’m taking a step in the right direction towards accomplishing the first tasks in Unit 1+2 however at this early stage in the foundation diploma course I still feel like I’ve only just discovered the tip of the iceberg.



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