You’ve always found underwater photography beautiful and intriguing, but had nobody you could turn to for help and advice? Don’t worry, because this article contains everything you need to know about taking great underwater shots.
Have The Right Shooting Equipment
In all likelihood, you don’t own a waterproof camera, which means you are going to need one. There are plenty of models you can choose from which are capable of taking shots underwater, up to a certain depth. Another solution would be to use your existing camera encased in a waterproof housing. Also, in order to capture as much as you can in the frame, it would be a good idea to get your hands on a wide-angle, or even fisheye lens.
Know Your Camera Like The Back Of Your Hand
Timing is everything in photography, which means the last thing you need is missing a shot, just because you were stuck looking for the right camera settings. Getting to know your camera so that is becomes an extension of your hand is crucial, and that goes double if you’re into underwater photography, regardless of whether you’re using a waterproof camera, or one which has a waterproof casing. Set up your camera before you start, so you don’t miss the best shots. Also, remember to wipe your camera after use to remove as much water as you can, as salt can mess up your gear.
Be Aware Of The Shooting Conditions
When shooting underwater, make sure to do so on a clear and sunny day, when there is not a lot of wind which can stir up the water and cause sand and other particles to rise and get mixed up with water, diminishing the visibility. Also, light acts differently underwater and there is less of it to begin with, so expect to shoot using high ISO values and wide apertures. Because of light diffraction, the subjectsin your shots may seem like they are disproportionately large, so make sure not to frame your shots too close. Also, it will be easier for the camera to focus if there is some distance between it and the subject.
Shoot Close To The Surface If Possible
The reason why you’d want to shoot close to the surface is not just because there is more light, but also because the colors will be more saturated and pleasant to look at, due to lesser diffusion of light. Another reason is that reflections created by water and light near the surface make for an extremely interesting texture, plus they allow you to experiment and create all sorts of unusual shots. Last, but not least, make sure that your camera rests safely in your hands, otherwise you might drop it and have it sink to the bottom.
Use Flash When Necessary
Flash is one of the most important pieces of gear you’re going to need for underwater photography. While you may be able to use your camera’s built-in flash in certain situations, be aware that its reach is very limited, and that it may end lighting up particles inside the water, instead of the subject. It only produces good results if the subject is really close. As an alternative, use strobes, which are a lot more powerful, plus they will enable to play with light and create a variety of different scenes. And, of course, you will need flash to counter the lack of light and motion blur in case you have to dive in deeper.
Have The Right White Balance Adjustments
Just like you would alter your white balance when you switch from shooting in natural light outside to shooting indoors in fluorescent or tungsten light, you need to change it when you move deeper underneath the surface, otherwise you will end up with too much blue or green tint, which the water usually adds. You can use flash to alleviate this problem, but it’s better to have something light with you which you can use a reference for your white balance settings.
Learn How Not To Scare The Underwater Creatures
If you really want to familiarize yourself with all the ins and outs of underwater photography, you may want to read up on different fish species and study their behavior in order to find out how they act around objects they’re not familiar with, or in this case, you. If you scare off your subjects, you don’t have a photo, which is why this step is crucial.
Of course, there will be times when you will encounter new species you haven’t studied beforehand. When that happens, remain as calm and as still as possible. You can also use weight or buoyancy compensators to pull it off, which also comes with the added benefit of making your shots sharper, but unless you’re a National Geographic photographer, being still will do the trick.
Keep The Background Simple
Much like you would do on dry land, keep the background free of all the unnecessary details and clutter which might distract the viewer’s eye from the main subject of your photograph. Using a shallow depth of field might do the trick, but another way of making sure you have a plain background is to get down low and point your camera upwards. Another advantage of this approach is that you can make your subject more imposing.
Darius Mitchell is a photographer and a professional writer for EssayOnTime. After graduating from college, he decided to try his hand at being a freelancer and hasn’t look back ever since. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, swimming, and reading history books.