In this Underwater Photography Guide we give you tips and tricks on how to become a better Underwater Photographer.
People with SCUBA training are in a unique position to offer the world a glimpse of their experiences through underwater photography. While some people seem born to produce exquisite images of life under the sea, the skill that is required to take quality underwater photographs can be learned.
With practice, you can learn techniques to produce beautiful underwater pictures of marine life that will be keepers. In this Underwater Photography Guide we give a few tips to achieve a balanced, crisp underwater photographs every time.
Photo Credit: zen
Subject and Composition
This is part of the foundation for underwater photography, and a large determining factor in how your photo turns out. If you are in a busy coral reef system, try to fixate on isolated parts of the reef, rather than trying to capture the entire thing, and you will end up with much clearer subjects.
Shoot up towards your subject rather than down at it. Avoid centering every subject, and shoot from several angles. Try using the rule of thirds, a technique that teaches you to mentally separate the image you want into 9 equal squares, and place key points of the subject along the lines or their intersections to achieve a well-blended, balanced photograph that creates tension and interest.
In post-production, cropping can make a world of difference where the desired composition was not achieved when the image was shot.
Capturing True Colors
One of the most common complaints about pictures made underwater from divers is the resulting monochrome effect in shades of either blue or green. The most immediate fix for this is to use a strobe with your camera. Water absorbs the color red, orange, yellow faster than it does blue and green, resulting in the blue-green hue of underwater pictures.
A strobe is effective in bringing the real colors of your subject forward with artificial light. It is recommended that you don't use a strobe when your subject is further than 3 - 4 feet away from your lens.
Photo Credit: abbyladybug
If you wish to practice photography skills with ambient light, it is best to stay within 10 - 20 feet of the surface, as the deeper you go, the more color will be absorbed. It is important that you learn how to operate your camera's white balance. White balance tells your camera what temperature of light to balance for. With blue sky being the highest temperature, and candlelight being the lowest.
Some cameras have both auto and manual settings for white balance; adjusting your white balance manually while taking the photograph will yield better results than color-correction afterwards. Of course, using a photo-editing program for shots that turn out less than perfect can result in a beautiful image.
Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.
Getting Strong Clarity
Great shots are not taken by shy violets. The more distance there is between you and your subject underwater, the less definition and contrast will end up in your underwater photography. Because water is much more dense than the air we live in, distance creates distortion. Get up close and personal with your subject.
Photo Credit: Marco Leone [Deepboy]
Using a wide-angle lens and composing your subject no more than 12 inches away can deliver a very clear, crisp image. A long zoom lens is not as practical for underwater photography as it is on land.
Being comfortable with your dive skills has a profound impact on your underwater photography, with respect to buoyancy control and managing currents. Having firsthand knowledge of your camera and composition skills are a must. You can practice shooting with your camera in its underwater housing on land to increase your comfort with the camera when underwater.
Would you like to practice your underwater photography skills? Why not book a dive trip to Indonesia or Egypt where you can be sure you will find photogenic reefs and great wrecks that are picture perfect
Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.