It is time to embrace the powerful underwater abundance of ideas and get some onto your best photos. There is no other field that can make you feel like a novice again, constantly facing you with new challenges, and make you want some more. Such is the power of underwater photography: limitless, always fresh, and always challenging. However, it is not impossible to take a grip of it, slowly advancing your goals towards perfection. A model, or the wildlife deep under? The ocean or the pool? It is all up to you. We must beware of the basics, the gear, our ideas, and possibilities, as well as the many obstacles we have to cross over. It can easily get exhausting and time-consuming, but once you understand the new rules of the underwater world you are all set on the right path.
Cameras see light differently, and you will mostly need 6 times stronger light down underwater. Unless you are shooting on the brightest day, or the cleanest water ever, you will definitely need your flash on at all time. Everything gets a bit darker in water. Lighting depends mostly on the depth you are at, as well as the distance from your subject. The further or deeper you are, the darker it gets. Many underwater photographers recommend a constant, ambient light or even strobes connected to your camera. Setting white balance to “Auto” can help you with the blue water hue.
Everything looks different in this zero gravity environment. If your challenge for the day is a beautiful underwater model, with her wavy dress, be prepared that water can mess everything up. Water changes textures and shapes, therefore this wonderful wavy dress soon becomes tangled, and out of shape. How to handle this? Learning to shoot very fast can be the key here. Planning matters a lot as well. You should definitely try some moves out on the land before diving in. Prepare well, and not only you but you model too. The waterproof make-up of the best kind will do some tricks because skin changes and makeup fades under the powerful water. The model can practice out in the dry all the necessary movements and in this way, you will be able to shoot faster not allowing water to ruin it all for you.
This is not a time to save money on gear and try your luck. The smallest leak can destroy your best gear, not to mention the sand you are always surrounded by. The most recommended is high-quality DSLR sealed in a proper underwater case. By no means has this led to the best cases you can find, which are quite expensive. If you desire shooting underwater as a hobby you’d better buy or borrow a dedicated underwater point-and-shoot or disposable point-and-shoot camera. There are many “tough “underwater cameras between 200$ and 400$. These would definitely not be a burden to carry down in the water. Floating camera strap is also very important since no one likes looking for his gear in the blue depths. Choose only the best and mind the color – the brightest you can find. The camera housings you buy are of great importance, and of course can be pricey. Having one or two strobes is a preference as well. Most photographers usually need one for macro photography.
Lenses are always a personal choice, and mostly depend on what you enjoy shooting. You will probably want to start with one wide-angle lens and 1 macro lens. If you want to get close and shoot large underwater animals the recommended is a fish-eye lens. This kind of lens lets you get closer to the subject which is very important in terms of color and image sharpness.
Scared of the big blue at night? You must certainly get used to the dark underwater life which can even become your favorite underwater challenge. Get used to dive at night too. First, you need a well-planned lighting. Underwater is already dark but at night there are no sun-rays to help you. The essentials are the above mentioned external strobe as well as the focus light which give you the necessary contrast to focus on the subject. The focused light is actually your primary light as a night diver. The shutter speed will cancel the ambient light created by the focus light, leaving the strobes to create the light seen in your photo. You can never guess what can astonish you at night. You see a different marine life, and it seems like everybody is on a night shift. Some of the fish will not be bothered so much by the divers. Some fish seem like collaborating with you since they are drawn to the light. Do not be surprised to see the marine life using your light to hunt. Stay close to your subject to eliminate back-scatter and to fill the frame. Always plan ahead and don’t be afraid. All of these tips can help you improve your skills to create great underwater images. Once you understand the properties of light underwater, how to choose the gear and to work with it, you can make the most of underwater photography.