Underwater camera history & marine video camera recommendations

History of Underwater Cameras: William Thompson

Hard to believe but true: the first known underwater pictures were taken more than 150 years ago – in 1856 by Englishman William Thompson. According to The British Society of Underwater Photographers, Thompson didn’t dive to take his photographs. Instead, he lowered his “housed plate camera” into the Weymouth Bay.

Thompson came from a wealthy family and he owned a 104-ton yawl named “Waif” and a 12-ton cutter named “Feather Star.” Both were used to trawl and dredge Weymouth Bay. He was fascinated by the marine life off the Dorset area and was credited for discovering “several new species of anemones and seaweeds,” and he created underwater gardens of a pretty seaweed known as “Peacock’s Tail.”

Day of the First Underwater Photography

It was a stormy day. Thompson and a friend were stuck inside the Portland Ferry Bridge House, where they observed the water pounding the bridge. He wondered about the underwater damage and apparently cringed at the expense of hiring a diver to get more information.

He already owned a camera that he used to study natural history, surrounded in plate glass that he hoped made it reasonably watertight. He fitted it on an iron tripod and used a rope to lower it into the sea – more specifically, “a nook in the bay of Weymouth which is bounded by a ridge of rocks (where the area within is of sand and boulders and thickly clothed with many species of seaweeds).”

Once the boxed camera was lowered about 18 feet from a rowboat, Thompson pulled a string that opened the hinged shutter of the camera. On his second try, “he obtained a reasonable satisfactory negative” from which he developed a print of rocks and seaweed. He created a better device for underwater photography, but then lost interest in his experimentation.

Interestingly enough, the society says that some of the finest underwater photography in recent years has been taken within a few miles of the spot of Thompson’s experimentation.  Even today, Peacock’s Tail seaweed washes to the shore in Weymouth Bay, a silent natural tribute to William Thompson.

Underwater Observations: Get the Right Underwater Video Camera

If you will be doing your own underwater observations, contact us and ask about our marine video camera. We believe that all moments spent exploring marine life are worth capturing. This belief, along with our passion and dedication to marine life, has led us to create our high quality SplashCam underwater cameras and underwater video products. Since 1988, our goal has been to give you the opportunity to document your underwater experiences and gather invaluable HD underwater footage.

Contact us online to find out the best marine video camera for your needs. Or call us at 1-800-355- 4234 or email sales@oceansystemsinc.com If you’re new to marine exploration, consider renting an underwater video camera.