I have been a professional underwater photographer for close on seven years now and through teaching people I have come to understand some of the frustrations that can make you want to stop before you really even get started. Shooting underwater is not as easy as shooting on land and requires extra thinking. My top tip- before you go underwater is to take the time to read the camera’s manual. Use the camera as often as you can on land.
1) Get Close, And Then Get Closer!
A common complaint when you start is the dull blueish greyish hue of images. Removing the amount of water between the camera and the subject will mean a clearer, sharper, and more colorful image.
2) Shoot Up
The reef is usually under you when you dive, but images of the tops of fish and coral are not interesting and can be messy. Shooting up creates a more appealing view of your subject, and will create separation between the foreground subject and the background of your images
3) Focus On The Eyes
Keep the eye of the subject sharp. Place the focus bracket so it aligns with the subject’s eye, pull your shutter trigger halfway to focus in on the eye and then when you have your photograph composed, push down completely on the shutter.
4) Keep Yourself Focused
Always carefully view the environment for the next photo opportunity.
Patience is paramount. You may have to wait for your subject to assume the perfect position or let other divers go by so that they are not in the frame.
5) Use a Strobe
Since water absorbs light and sucks color- use underwater strobes to restore color, create contrast and help retain image sharpness.
6) Shoot, Review, Adjust, Rinse, Repeat
Use your LCD to review your images as you shoot to make sure your subject is well exposed, nicely composed and you are happy with the outcome. Review every image. Adjust and shoot again.
7) Go Manual
To control the exposure, color and sharpness of your images and to get creative you’ll need to embrace manual controls.
8) Maintain Your Equipment
Water and electronics don’t mix well. Make sure O-rings are clean and greased. One strand of hair can cause a flood. Clean out and dry all ports after every dive. Never let salt water dry on your equipment. Never leave batteries in.
9) Respect the Environment
You must have excellent buoyancy skills. Keep all of your gear streamlined as to minimize the potential of a gauge damaging the reef. Never touch marine life. You may not realize the damage inflicted from even minor touching. Be patient and let your images be the reward from your interactions.
10) Have Fun!
Don’t forget that underwater photography is supposed to be fun. Don’t get too caught up in the technical side.
If you are just starting out and would like to learn more send me some questions or even just mail me a photo to critique for you- I offer constructive criticism! Fiona@fionaayerst.com