A Successful Month of Underwater Photography


The first month of my Mozambique underwater photography internship  at Guinjata Dive Center is complete. My goal for July 2013 was to help my 9 students to take better photographs through a better understanding of the basics of underwater photography. The students have all seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of their photos. The students are starting to grasp the concept of imagination and visualisation and how to apply these techniques , with patience, to their work.

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First attempt at a whip coral goby

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A stunning whip coral goby is discovered and shot in fine detail by Garrett Apel

These are the core topics we covered..

  1.  Selecting a first underwater camera; what lenses and gear to use and why
  2. The basic principles of light underwater and then shooting both with ambient light and advanced techniques in strobe use
  3. Working in Manual Mode and then getting started by shooting on land with multiple exercises to understand how different setting on a camera affect photos underwater
  4. Camera preparation and perfect care of their equipment for many years of hassle free use
  5. Macro and Wide Angle shooting both basic and advanced techniques
  6. Composition
  7. Basics of the digital darkroom and using Lightroom 5
  8. Blogging and marketing as a photographer
  9. The mindset; visualisation and shooting at the peak of the action
  10. Selling on Micro Stock

We also covered advanced techniques in the underwater photography internship and had  fun on land shooting star trails and moon rises.

It was a culture-fest to visit Inhambane to shoot images around town and at the market and we also spent a day in the estuary in Tofo shooting the weird and wonderful nursery grounds for all the diverse underwater life in the area.

For this blog -I have chosen a couple of before and after photos from some of my students to show you what I mean. I thank these underwater photography interns for being brave enough to allow me to use their initial images- shot on the same cameras on the first day and then later on towards the end of the month.

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First attempts at a saddleback toby.

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Final rendering by the same student after learning techniques in underwater photography

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First attempts at a star fish

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The finished product after some solid grounding in underwater photography techniques

I think one of the students summed it up best when he said he felt he has all the technical elements understood but he is grappling with giving feeling and meaning to his UW shots. Initially I was concerned I had failed in my teaching quest but when I really thought about it I realised that in fact he is exactly at the place I wanted my students to be at this point. They have been given a solid grounding and can manage all the technical issues but they are now in a space where they are starting to really think about this the elusive quest of all great artists – and that is- what is it that makes an underwater photo truly great and how can they apply their own artistry and emotion to this challenging medium?

I am satisfied I have given them the solid skills to go forth and find out more. Roll on August students.

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3 Comments on “A Successful Month of Underwater Photography

  1. Wow! The contrasts are striking. Thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes work of the workshop.

  2. Pingback: Best Student Photographs of July | Fiona Ayerst's Blog

  3. Thanks Ron- I love teaching underwater photography as the differences are usually striking – before and after!!

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