Photography under the water comes with a completely new collection of challenges. Between the marine life and the lighting there is so much you can’t control – and that makes it hard to concentrate on the essentials of photography, like pictures.
But with the correct set of camera and gear and a bit of advice from experts on your side, you can click some really phenomenal photos. We bring the best underwater photography tricks to share with you and help you excel in the only department that demands extra care.
1. Go Closer to the Subject by Swimming
The water is a medium where light and colors travel differently and that can drastically affect the photo’s color, sharpness, and even contrast. To avert getting end up with dull and boring pictures, you’ll have to get close to the subject as much as possible – but not too close to either scare the subject away or camera unable to focus. Stay least 30 cm away and then snap the button.
No doubt, safety should be your first concern, so use all your senses. By decreasing the amount of water the camera lens and the subject, you can be in a way better spot to take bright and vibrant and sharp photos underwater. We recommend taking your subject into the frame and when you see the chance, snap the most amazing photo. The accuracy and timing is key here, too.
2. Choose the Manual Mode if you Know How
If you ask any photographer who has clicked pictures underwater and they’ll say: Manual mode is definitely the way to go. Before you jump into the water, you might want to learn the basics of using manual mode in photography so you can adjust your settings when needed fast and easy.
There are a few important settings to oversee in the camera:
Aperture – or f-stop – represents the extent of the lens opening, which lets in light. You can tussle with the aperture and change the depth of field in your photo. This is handy especially when you’re clicking your subject up close. Based on how far you’re diving, you’ll probably be working anywhere between f8 and f16.
Shutter speed is the time the lens remains open to get the subject. It defines the sharpness in your images. For things (like a coral reef), try using a SS 1/30th. If in case you’re caught up picturing objects that move slowly, change SS to 1/60th – this will also let you use the ambient light from the background. If the object is faster, use fast shutter speed to match it.
Your camera’s sensitivity for light is termed ISO. For photography underwater, you would want to keep your ISO at bottom of the lower side, say 100 or 200. If you want to try higher ISOs, you can experiment but your images will end up grainy and noisy.
3. Don’t Panic If You Lose Some Light and Color
One of the important factors for why photography underwater is so tough to carry out is because the water serves as a medium. The deeper you dive, the more you lose colors. Red will be the first one to disappear, and the water has a tendency of changing everything to blue and that includes your pictures. Plus, it’s a lot darker under the water compared to dry land. To capture photos with accurate colors, you’ll have to make a few adjustments.
If you’re depending on natural sunlight, you might want to stay closer to the surface and remember, try to click with the sun behind you. We recommend shooting in the morning or afternoon when the sunlight is in abundance.
Want to go deeper into the water? You might want to spend some money on artificial lightings, like a waterproof flash or strobe. This will brighten all the pretty subjects and their colors, and then you can capture the photos in a better way. But if you’re distant from your object, the flash or artificial light will brighten up things that aren’t necessary. Which in turn bring so many obstacles that can make your shot messy. That is why you need to stay close.
If you think the built-in flash of your camera will help your photos, well it will but only to some extent, say up to 3 feet. You may not have to tag an extra flash if you plan on going closer to the subject. Usually, the professional ones always keep tweaking with the manual mode in order to get that single awe-inspiring photo of the marine life.
4. Use the Macro Mode When Possible
No doubt, the beauty of a photograph lies in details and when marine life photos are enriched with details, they tell another story. Which can be something to gain through macro mode. So, when you click photos in macro – as compared to the wide-angle shot – you may capture the tiniest marine creatures that many divers could miss. This feat helps you achieve the next level in photography because you start paying attention to the details other photographers might miss. For example, a lot of them will click the whole coral reef pictures, while only a few will focus on a specific patch.
Mastering macro mode isn’t that tough either. There are a few simple tricks that will help you get through. The important one is to get up near to your subject. This will guarantee your camera is pointed and ready to attain a focal point and snap before that particular moment passes.
Another major point is to understand the range of the camera’s focus point in macro mode. A few cameras are only able to focus when the camera lens is less than one inch off the subject. Finally, be always prepared to turn off macro mode in a jiffy when you spot something fascinating from some distance.
The true magic lies within the creative mind of a photographer and if the same photographer is properly aware of every camera related technique, the combination results in some of the most astounding photos people have ever seen.
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