How to take good Underwater Photos

Written by  on January 25, 2011 

Following up on a previous article on this site about underwater cameras, let’s talk about how to take good underwater pictures. Underwater photography is definitely different, and obviously more difficult, than photos taken on dry land; the light behaves differently, stability is more difficult to achieve, and your subjects are more mobile. So after reading this article we hope that you will book a trip to your favourite dive site, buy good travel insurance, and take amazing photos that you will want to show to your family and friends.

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Photo: ParaScubaSailor

First, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with your equipment and with photographic techniques in general. Do not expect that it will come on its own, even with the highly automatized cameras of today. They can only do so much, and the human eye still has a great influence on the quality of a photo. There are a ton of books and Internet articles about photography, to spend a little time getting to know the language and the techniques. When you know about photography in general, spend a bit more time learning the specifics of underwater photography. It is very different: you need to remain close to your subject without disturbing it, you need to understand how light works and refracts underwater, and you need to understand focus and framing for truly good pictures.

Also, make sure that it isn’t your first time diving. Buoyancy control is essential for underwater photography: you need to be able to remain stable as you move your camera and play with the focus for the perfect shot. Buoyancy control also enables you to avoid disturbing the ocean floor as you take pictures; otherwise, a load of particles and debris will fill the water and make good photography impossible. Also, being too heavy can be a danger to coral reefs as they are easily broken by contact with fins and other human apparatus. So you should be an experienced diver with excellent control of your movements before undertaking any serious underwater photography.

Always, always show courtesy to the other divers around you. Do not hog the great picture possibilities for yourself, and let others enjoy the sights as well. In any case, too many people in a spot might scare the wildlife and scatter them away. Do not get in the way of other people’s pictures, and be respectful of the flora and fauna. Most dive sites are protected sites, and breaking or damaging it in any way might mean trouble for you.

Last but not least, just like with fashion photo, too much Photoshopping is always obvious. It’s okay for slight retouches, but do not modify the entire picture with overused Photoshop techniques. The point of getting photos of the natural world is to capture its beauty, not to create it artificially. Try to find the natural beauty in the photos that you like, and that will make them much more enjoyable in the long run.

Of course, good equipment and dive trips are expensive, but you can save by getting cheap travel insurance. After that, you can dive with a free mind and no worries about accidents. Make sure to insure your equipment as well, especially if you spent a lot of money on it.

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