Underwater Photography: 10 Basic Principles

Photography Basics

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Learning the technical jargon isn’t for everybody. In fact, do not even worry about it right now. However, capturing marine life underwater isn’t always as easy as taking pictures on land (technically in air), and even an easy factor-and-shoot underwater camera calls for a little more thinking.

The first step to understanding any photography is knowing your camera. If you are new to digital photography, make an effort to read the camera’s manual.

The Basics

Regardless of what camera you have, from an entry-level digital “point & shoot” to the most advanced DSLR, there are ten golden guidelines of underwater photography that you have to always keep in mind. Many of those rules are about the composition in the underwater environment. Each photographer can benefit from a right composition, so it is also worthwhile to read the whole composition guide.

1. Get close, and get closer!

The first rule of underwater photography is to get close. Get as close as you think you need to, and then get closer!

Water absorbs light right away, and the most common complaint about new underwater photographers is the dull blueish-greyish hue in their pictures. Getting rid of the amount of water between the digital camera and the subject will suggest a clearer and sharper colorful photo. Moreover, in water, there are tiny floating particles that you may not observe until they show up for your pictures. We describe those particles as backscatter.  Reducing the amount of water between the camera and the subject will also decrease the amount of backscatter in your photos.

2. Be focused

Diving with and without a camera are two different activities. After diving with a camera, you could find that those dives where you cruised alongside casually watching the scenery no longer appear quite as fun. Analyzing the environment for the next photo opportunity is the call of the game now.

Patience is paramount in underwater photography. Waiting for your subject to assume the best position or letting other divers go through so that they’re no longer inside the frame are things you will have to get used to. It is no longer unusual for advanced underwater photographers to spend multiple dives on a single subject – even a common one. The results may be worth it.

Of course, the casual underwater photographer doesn’t want to be obsessive, but a level of personal focus and interest to detail will take your pictures a long manner!

3. Shoot up

In underwater photography, pictures usually turn out better when capturing at a slight upward perspective towards the subject. Shooting down at the subject is often less difficult because the reef is generally underneath us at the same time as we dive, but photos of the tops of fish and coral aren’t exciting. Stoning up creates a more appealing view of your subject, and can create a much-wanted contrast between the foreground subject and the background in your pictures. By shooting up, you may also include the open water within the image, that’s a better background for a picture than a cluttered area of the reef.

4. Focus on the eyes

Getting pictures in focus is essential for a successful photograph. Everything else can be ideal, but if the subject is out of attention, then, well, it is just an image of an ambiguous blurry element.

In wildlife photography, one of the most necessary rules is keeping an eye fixed on the subject sharp. Place the focus bracket, so it aligns with the subject’s eye. Press your shutter button halfway to focus, and when you have your photograph composed, push down entirely on the shutter. Voila – you’re now in your focusing groove!

5. Use a strobe

Due to the fact water absorbs light and sucks the color out of underwater pictures, use underwater strobes to repair color, create contrast and help keep image sharpness. This could be your single most vital investment.

6. Shoot, review, adjust & repeat

Now and then we take for granted the shortened learning curve that digital photography has created by way of giving us instant access to review our images. To an extent, the LCD on your digital camera may be its most critical feature. Take advantage of this feature and take some time to review your photos as you shoot to make sure your subject is properly exposed, well composed and you’re satisfied with final results. Review each image if possible. Don’t like precisely what you spot? adjust accordingly and shoot again (you’ll learn how to adjust soon, we promise.) New photographers may also find it hard to understand how anybody ever accomplished proper results with underwater pictures before the advent of the LCD. In reality, capturing desirable underwater pictures on film was undoubtedly a great deal harder than it is these days. 

8. Maintain your equipment

Water and electronics don’t mix very well. It’s critical to take your time when setting up your camera and housing. Make sure o-rings are smooth and greased, but not over greased. One strand of hair or spec of dust can be the distinction between keeping the ocean from your housing or flooding it. Assuming you’re taking pictures in saltwater, rinse your digital camera tools off with fresh water after every dive. By no means let the salt water dry to your device. For more information on keeping your underwater equipment, study our guide to maintenance.

9. Respect the environment

Remember, we’re privileged guests within the underwater global. Respecting the environment and its inhabitants need to be considered one of your top priorities. Before you begin taking your camera underwater, it is crucial to have great buoyancy abilities. This will help protect each your self and the environment around you. Keep all of your equipment streamlined as to limit the ability of a gauge or hose getting entangled or damaging the reef. Never harass or touch marine life. You can now not understand the harm inflicted from even minor touching. Be patient and let your pictures be the reward in your interactions.

9. Go Manual

Setting out in auto mode is not a hassle. But auto settings can only get you to this point in underwater photography. To manipulate the exposure, color, and sharpness of your photos and to get creative you may want to include some degree of manual controls. Do not worry; it is now not that scary!

10. Have fun!

Bear in mind that underwater photography is supposed to be fun. Don’t be too fussy about the technical aspect. Start off with the basics, get a feel for it, then study the technical side later. Get wet and enjoy yourself!

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