Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to Remember

There seems to be as many underwater photo tips as there are fish in the ocean. We touched on five in Part 1 and now here are five more important things to remember before you take the plunge:

diver by konr4d Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberWork with what you have – not everyone can have the best underwater photography camera and accessories. If you have a regular point and shoot, you can still take good pictures underwater. Buy a waterproof camera case and check your camera’s capabilities to see if you can manually adjust exposure settings such as shutter speed and aperture so you have more control. If you have an SLR or a DSLR, using a wide angle lens would be ideal since a wider area can be captured by the lens without the image becoming blurry. 

anemone fish hirekatsu Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberSafety first – when taking pictures, we can sometimes be so engrossed with what we are doing that for a while we forget the rest of the world. This can be very dangerous if you are in the water since the scenario calls for you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You might be so focused on getting the perfect shot of those pretty fish that you might not notice your diving buddy needs your help. Check your diving gear once in a while, not just your camera gear. Avoid creatures that might harm you. No matter how pretty they are, it is better to keep a safe distance. 

Don’t scare the fish – fish can be very timid and can get easily scared of you since you will be something big and strange to them. If fish are running away from you, do not swim after them. You probably will not get a good shot that way, anyway, since the fish can just outswim you. Instead, stay in one spot and let them come to you. Watch their movements and how they behave, and let them first get used to you so you have a better chance to get closer to them. If you are using strobes, flash them several times first to get the fish used to the effect.

diver 2 by hamletnc Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberCatch the catchlights – something as small as a tiny reflection of light in a creature’s eyes can mean the world of difference in the visual impact of a shot. Catchlights provide depth and dimension, and give the eyes life and spark. Without them, fish and other sea creatures, can appear dull and have no vitality.Use the portrait format once in a while – the horizontal framing or landscape format is often used when taking underwater shots since fish are on the wider rather than the taller side. However, using a vertical framing or portrait format can also make a composition more dynamic and present the subject in a less common perspective.

Good lighting for underwater subjects is very important to get a striking shot. Check out the previous articles regarding how to light your subject underwater. 


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Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remember

underwater1 by hisks1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberWhether you are snorkeling or diving, there are a lot of things to consider when doing underwater photography. The oceans and seas hide vast wonders and beauty that is not often seen and if you are fortunate enough to experience swimming among the sea denizens such as strange looking fish and brilliant corals, you probably have feel a strong urge to capture their mystic pull in a photograph. If you are about take your camera underwater, there are several things to remember before you let even just your little toe get wet:

Familiarize yourself with the dive area – before you dive into the big blue sea, first know what to expect underwater. Know what kind of fish and other sea creatures live in that area, the dangers to avoid, and so on. Knowing all these beforehand will give you an idea as to what camera settings to use, what lens would be best tortoise by diko19671  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remembersuited for the location, and the best way to approach your subject.

Get your diving skills down pat – good buoyancy control is needed if you want to get a good shot more often than not. A lot of underwater shots are close ups which means proper focusing is determined by making very slight adjustments in the distance of the lens. You would need to know how to hold yourself steady as you shoot or else your shots can easily become out of focus. Practice diving until you are sure you can do it with ease. If you haven’t done it in a long time, take refresher courses first just get yourself reacquainted with the deep. The more at home you are with your surroundings, the easier it will be to concentrate on getting those shots.

young anemone fish hirekats1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberShoot upward – this perspective will make your subject appear large and have more presence. Shots facing downward can make the subject smaller. Also, there is the big possibility of it getting lost in the background or in the shadows. 

Take close up or macro shots – underwater creatures can be very beautiful and fascinating and it is always a good idea to get in as close as you can to capture their details. Another thing to consider is that the further away your subject is, the harder it is to provide proper illumination. Water sucks in light and the distance your flash can reach is much shorter when underwater.

Lighting and composition techniques underwater is the same as on land – don’t forget the basic techniques in your excitement once you’re underwater. The Rule of Thirds, perspective, leading lines, angles of the light, and so on are still applicable with underwater images. Focus on the texture of the corals, the lines and shapes of fish, the way the light hits anemone. Instead of frontal flash which can make your subject appear washed out and lose detail, try sidelighting instead to bring out fine details, or backlighting to create silhouettes of the fascinating sea creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photography

In underwater photography, ambient light can be used to create stunning atmospheric shots. Ambient light is available light that is present in the scene and in this case sunlight is the main light source to illuminate underwater subjects. There will be times when you will not have a choice but to use only ambient light. For instance, if you’re trying to capture images of large sea creatures such as shark by diko1967 Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photographywhales, they might not be near enough for you to illuminate them with strobe lights. There are also times when ambient light will light up a bigger area than your strobes can cover. If you have strobes, you can use these as fill light in key areas such as the foreground. 

When photographing subjects and scenes underwater, you will find that the properties of water is not the same as that of air, and light is very much affected. Water is 800 times denser compared to air and when sunlight hits the water, it diffuses and scatters. The blue light is evenly bounced off at all sides while the rest of the spectrum passes through as normal. This is the reason why water appears blue. The deeper down the waters, the darker and bluer it becomes. Contrast also becomes reduced since water acts like a light sponge. 

backscatter by nalhcal Using Ambient Light in Underwater PhotographyStaying close to the surface will allow you to take advantage of the intensity of ambient light. However, be prepared for backscatter, which are tiny but visible particles such dust or organisms like plankton that reflect light. They produce a snow-like effect, which appear more prominently nearer to the water’s surface.  There are many ways you can avoid ambient scatter. One is to go down deeper but you will have less ambient light. Another is to move with care to avoid dust from clouding up and to also move against the current so that dust will float away from you. Also stay away from swells that stir up dust and sand.

When using ambient light, consider the sun’s position since it is your main light source. The sunlight is at its strongest between 11a.m. and 2 p.m., when it is at its highest point in the sky. This is the time when the waters least reflect it away and more of it penetrates through the surface. You may even chance upon getting a cathedral light effect. This occurs when the water’s surface cathedrallight by quentinh Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photographyis calm and flat, and the sun is high in the sky. Shafts of light become visible and the effect can be quite dramatic. When shooting cathedral light, move out of the path of the light and face it instead so you can capture its full impact.

One of the effects of using only ambient light is color loss and contrast. Since the underwater environment can end up appearing mostly blue with ambient light, you can offset this by using filters. Color compensating filters will give your scene a certain hue depending on the filter color while color conversion filter will change the appearance of color temperature. In this case the warming filter option is most often used to offset the cool blue color cast provided by ambient light. 


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