Underwater Macro Photography: A Photographer’s Adventure

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  By Blagoja Martinovski
Underwater Macro Photography: A Photographer’s Adventure www.sleeklens.com

As the summer is getting closer probably this topic is going to get very interesting for all of you, especially for those of you who are planning to go to some exotic destination. If you are looking at underwater macros on the World Wide Web you will find many “aliens”, creatures that are at least awkward, looking like they came up from a science fiction movie, and taking photos of them is a pleasure because you just don’t see creatures like that in your everyday life. To be a part of this alien world you will have to be extra careful, some of these creatures can be very dangerous, toxic and they can bite. You don’t want to bleed on a coral reef because blood can attract the most vicious of them all- her majesty Shark. Also if you are on a coral reef you going to have to be extra careful and keep steady yourself. Take into consideration that it’s only allowed – and even in certain occasions, this doesn’t prove to be allowed – to place a couple of fingers in a dead area of the coral reef itself. For example breaking a coral in Egypt will make you pay a LOT of money because these reefs are national parks and strictly protected. Also with lots of movements, you will disturb your objects and you will come up with no photos at all.If you haven’t dived before, take a class or two. It will be handy for better movement in this “new” underwater surrounding. Also ask the tour guide where usually photographers dive, and where you can find most of the beautiful fishes and corals.  About the equipment- you are going to need an underwater camera. Go- Pro and other look alike cameras are not the best choices for this purpose. These days you have a variety of choices, but my recommendation would be to buy an underwater housing for your DSLR. This solution is not very cheap but if you are into this kind of photography it is a worthy investment. Also, you will need a macro lens and a strobe. Today’s macro lenses are truly a magnificent piece of technology. I would recommend a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens for Canon (or something close to this) because it can focus at 35 centimeters from the housing. Nikon’s 105 mm macro lens is well known as a reliable piece of macro equipment. Also, you may consider inserting an extension tube. A tube gives the lens the ability of 20% additional magnification, which is not little by all means. About the aperture, if you want a sharp clear image of your object plus the surrounding you going to have to use an aperture anywhere from f/22 to f/32, that’s the smallest Canon 100mm f2.8 macro can do. Don’t worry about the amount of light you going to get because you are using a strobe. There is another option and this technique is called “Japanese-style effect”. It’s called that way because this technique is very popular among the Japanese underwater photographers. They are using an aperture of f/4.2 and that’s how they achieve Japanese painting style photography where everything but the object is blurry.Be careful with the focusing. It is the same as it is for, let’s say, bug macros. Get close and keep the focus on the eyes of the fish. At the moment of picking your desired a focal point, do keep in mind that it’s just one-third of what is in the focus area is in covered by the exact point of focus, and the other two-thirds falls behind it. If your goal is the mouth and the eyes of the fish to be in focus, then you should shoot somewhere in between these two. Always try to create a contrast between the object and the background. Avoid pieces of reef, mud, or flora if they are coming in front of the object. Also, the strobe should be mounted behind the lens. For this purpose always use some kind of adjustable or bendable arm. These kinds of unwanted floating objects distract the wanted impact of your image and will make your image look as it has been taken in a snow storm.To become a good underwater photographer you will need patience – a lot of it, and experience. Dive in, take your time and shoot some photos. Then go out, take a good look at the photos and think how to create better ones. Then go back in, inspect your work and don’t stop trying and experimenting. Consider the points and above-mentioned tricks, and think where you did wrong and what can be done better. I’m hoping that you find something interesting and that you will practice underwater macros.Warm regards.

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