Underwater photography is an awesome experience. Have a go with a GoPro Hero 3.
This exciting underwater photography blog will give you a fantastic insight into a different world of creative photography. It doesn’t matter if you are just using a point and shoot Canon Powershot D20, or a dedicated underwater camera…the excitement, fun, drama and creativity are exactly the same. Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus have made it easy to enjoy underwater photography with their pocket friendly, waterproof cameras. However before we go into details with these compacts, lets see how the pro’s do it.
How the pro’s approach underwater photography.
O.k. back down to earth now with 6 of the best affordable compacts available for underwater photography.
1. The best of the test was the Canon Powershot D20 because of the oversized buttons, as they give you a fantastic advantage over a normal compact.
2. Nikon Coolpix AW 100 was also an impressive camera.
3. Pentax WG2-GPS
4. Fujifilm Finepix XP150
5. Panasonic Lumix FT4
6. Olympus TG-820
All great cameras for underwater photography, but the Canon’s oversized buttons, won the day for me. For a full review of the best stack up for 2013.
Top tips for successful underwater photography.
- Don’t chase the fish…you will just end up with a lot of dissappointing, blurred, tail shots.
- Start out with static objects like corals and wrecks.
- Get down as low as possible.
- Get as close as possible and then closer, the less water between you and the subject, the clearer the image.
- As in normal photography, take your time and use the rule of thirds to compose your frame. Try exaggerating diagonal lines across the frame.
- When you are comfortable to shoot some moving subjects, let them come to you and create a contrasting background.
- Shoot slighty upwards and go for head shots, focusing on the eyes.
- Creat a sense of scale by using a model. This will successfully show a small fish as really small (using a finger for scale).
- Shooting close to the sea bed, be careful not to kick up sand and sediment.
- Whether you are diving deep or just snorkling, you need to control your balance to achieve sharp photos ( more tips on this in the PADI section).
Basic rules if you are using a compact camera.
1 Get your camera set up the night before, don’t try and figure it out on the boat.
2 - Cover the front of the housing directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape when adding an external strobe that is optically fired, otherwise you will still get backscatter from the internal flash.
3 – Make sure you understand the focusing distance of your camera in and out of macro mode. Use macro mode when you are within the macro focusing distance.
4 – If you use an external flash, make sure you place it as far away from your housing as possible, and your internal flash is blocked, in order to reduce backscatter.
5 – Bring a dive light with you to help your camera auto-focus.
6 – If you turn your flash off, either manual white-balance your camera, or set it to underwater mode
7 – Don’t use digital zoom.
For people using only a compact camera and internal flash:
8 – The lower the visibility, the closer to the subject you must be to avoid backscatter.
9 – Avoid using the flash when shooting more than 3-4ft away for better colors in your underwater photos.
10 – When not using the flash, make sure you use manual white balance mode.
11 – When using the flash, make sure white balance is set to auto.
12 – Look into using wet lenses for a wider range of focal lengths.
When you feel confident to take your underwater photography further, i highly recommend a PADI licence.
An PADI open water divers course, usually starts in the local swimming pool, teaching you invaluable skills you will find essential in open water.
Clearing your mask when it fills with water…changing your tanks under water and general familiarisation with your equipment and new surroundings. All this, just to do some underwater photography? Worth every penny and every second, in my book.
Just briefly, my own experience with PADI and underwater photography. Like a fool, i decided to start my PADI course in preparation for the spring, but January/ February is not a time i would recommend…however, at the end of January after completing my basic “pool” training, i was ready for the open water course. Having a conversation with my instructer i asked “surely it will be too cold to go diving at Devil’s Bridge today???”…”Rubbish”…my instructor bellowed…”warm as toast old boy!!!” Not exactly convinced by his confidence, i sat with my bare arse on the freezing grass, putting on my freezing rubber suit. After spitting into my mask, i edged towards the water and slid into the dark waters….jesus…it was freezing…the lying B###$&D=.
My first shot came right out of the blue…a salmon…a 10 pound fish collided with my head and knocked my mask off. This is where your training in a nice warm pool comes in.
My second experience was at Coniston Water Cumbria, a lake made famous by Donald Campbell, killed in his Bluebird whist attempting the water speed record. All we had to do was go down the line attached to a buoy about 20 metres with a “buddy” and take some shots. The current underneath the surface was so strong, and kicked up so much silt, you could not see your hand. I momentarily let go of the line to adjust my mask and i was gone…completely disorientated, i had to surface to get my bearings. I was 50 metres away from the buoy, swimming against the current was useless, so i had to cut a 90 degree line towards the shore and abandon my underwater photography.
Basic control skills for underwater photography.
Just in case some of you underwater photography needs a bit of tweeking, don’t panick…this vid will explain how you can save a photo disaster.
To re-cap on all the points pixsellpix have made on underwater photography, enjoy this really great, relaxing vid and a reminder not to forget black and white underwater photography for impact. For some of the best underwater cameras and equipment, take a look at these beauties. For a more conservative pocket, have a look down here.
Time to put your flippers up, raid the cookie jar and watch this last video to see if you have Bean learning how NOT to do it.
New Year photographic inspiration for 2013.
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