Photography has become a real passion for me both above water and below, but now mostly below. It’s become such a passion that it is now my job and main source of income. To be a photographer it takes time, patience and dedication and an understanding of the basics. I am by no means an expert, I just have a real passion for it. I first used an underwater camera back in 2009 and started with a very basic compact model – Canon Ixus 90. Now from 2015 onwards I have moved on to using an Nikon D7100 dSLR with strobes. I focus primarily on underwater portrait photography as I take photos of divers and snorkelers. Every now and again I get a day off and / or a dive holiday. Then I can practise my macro and marine life photography.
I thought I would share some tips to help you along the way to improve your photography skills. Whether you are using dSLRs or compacts underwater these are designed to prolong the life of your camera and improve your photography skills.
If you are Interested in an Underwater Photography Course? Never tried it before or you want to learn more or even learn how to be a professional photographer? Underwater photography courses tailor made to suit you are being taught now on Koh Lanta Thailand.
Hints and Tips –
- Preparation is key, clean your housing properly (before and after the dive), grease the o-ring a couple of times a month, make sure you don’t have any hairs or sand on the o-ring or in the flanges, make sure the buttons aren’t sticking. The 5 minutes it takes to do this is nothing in comparison to the cost of replacing a camera if you don’t and your housing floods as a result of poor preparation. Always wash your housing off in clean water after a dive. Never leave the camera or housing out in direct sunlight.
- Before you even get into the water you should try and know where all the buttons and dials are so that you adjust settings underwater without looking at them and as quickly as possible before the subject passes you by.
- Always make sure your camera battery is fully charged and the SD card is in place and working properly. I always make sure I format my SD card before each dive. Manually deleting photos won’t remove all the data stored on the memory card and over time it will slow down and fill up the card.
- Before you enter the water do a test shot to make sure everything is working ok – flash, zoom, strobes etc
- Never jump into the water with your camera. If you can have someone pass the camera to you in the water.
- Make sure you can maintain perfect buoyancy – NEVER touch or lean on corals to get the perfect shot. Do not harass subjects or move them to get a better shot. If you can’t control your buoyancy you shouldn’t have a camera with you.
- When shooting macro subjects, get as close as possible to the subject without harassing the subject.
- When shooting wide angle again get as close as you can, look for shards of light, leading lines and try to keep subjects out of the corners of the shots.
- Use natural light if you can but if you use flashes use them gently, the strobes should be adding a touch of light.
- For best shots try to get low, shoot upwards, combine shots with the sun in the foreground as well as the sun in the background.
- Remember depth reduces colour, contrast and sharpness.
- Use the basics of photography composition – rule of 1/3rds, leading lines etc. Great photographers use these rules but try to bend them as much as possible.
- Use the manual modes as this gives you greater control of your camera. Use shutter speeds, aperture and ISO in different combinations to obtain the desired results.
- Be as still as possible when shooting, the slightest movement can cause blurring. The lowest shutter you should be using underwater is around 1/60.
- Try, try and try again, practice makes perfect. When back on land look through your photos to see what works and what doesn’t.
- Transfers your photos from your camera to your computer via a data cable rather than taking the SD card out. Over time the constant removal and replacement of the SD will wear down the AVR pins and reduce the life of the SD card.
- Look at other people photos, see what you like in them, understand how they got that photo. There are a huge number of online photography websites, blogs and help pages on the web and social media, use them to increase your knowledge of cameras, trends and composition.
- Try using post production utilities such as Lightroom or Photoshop they will enhance your photos. It’s not cheating!
- If you are interested in doing an underwater photography course with me in Thailand please see Underwater Photography Courses in Thailand.
Good luck and have fun!