8 Tips for Taking Great Underwater Photos

Underwater photography is possibly unique among nature photography. Why? Because it allows us to be part of the natural environment we are shooting and gives us a chance to see varieties of marine life, from the little to the huge, that we can come across in a single shot. However, it can be a challenging experience for everyone. Aside from everything is moving and it is a struggle to be where you need to be for the photo, the water itself may sometimes not be clear enough to make great photos. That is why, some underwater photographers failed to unveil the world that exists beneath the deep seas.

Now, if you want to explore this field with great finesse, here are the eight useful tips for underwater photography that will help you approach this art.

TIP #1. Get as Close to the Subject as Possible

When light passes through water, color and contrast are lost, making it difficult to capture what you’re really seeing. By reducing the amount of water between you and the subject, whether it’s a sea turtle, coral reef or tropical fish, the natural color and contrast are kept intact. If you’re more than 5 feet away from whatever you’re shooting, the photo quality will be severely diminished.

If you plan on staying on the surface of the water, such as during a snorkeling tour, you’ll have more natural light, which allows the color to be more realistic. Underwater, red disappears at 15 feet, orange at 25 feet, yellow at 35 to 45 feet and green at 70 to 75 feet.

While getting close is recommended, remember that touching is not. Coral and fish are living, breathing creatures, so be mindful not to cause them damage or stress by touching.

underwater photography

TIP #2. Slow and Steady Wins the Shot

Keep in mind that marine life moves at a slower pace than things on land. When snorkeling or scuba diving, the things you’re likely to see underwater are very relaxed and calm. Therefore, the more relaxed and calm you are, the less likely it will be to bolt in the opposite direction.

Chasing your subject underwater will not make it more likely to pose for a photo. Don’t attempt to encircle or trap anything to get a better shot. It will only make the subject more likely to see you as a threat and try to get away. In order to capture a great underwater photo, slowly approach your subject while being as still as possible. Splashing on the surface and quick movements are the two things that signal danger.

TIP #3. Avoid Direct Eye Contact

Believe it or not, staring directly at your subject is not a good idea. Fish and sea turtles can sense that they’re being watched often alerting them that you’re a predator. Use your peripherals when swimming and you’ll get much better results.

TIP #4. Shoot at a Slightly Upward Angle

Since fish and turtles can easily blend into the reef, try to separate the subject from the background as much as possible. One way to do this is by shooting your subject at an upward angle, which allows you to get more of the blue color of the water as well as the surface and natural sunlight. Your subject will then be the focus of the photo rather than blend into the background. Many species of fish are masters of camouflage, so if you’re lucky enough to spot something, make sure you shoot it at an upward angle to get the best shot possible.

TIP #5. Go with the Flow

If you watch anything underwater long enough, you’ll notice that it tends to swim in the same pattern, over and over again. By approaching slowly and taking the time to watch the route, you can get the angle, timing and position you want without scaring your subject away.

TIP #6. Only Use Flash Within a Few Feet of the Subject

The last thing you want when using the flash on your camera is to illuminate the particles in front of the lens instead of illuminating what you’re actually trying to shoot. By keeping as little distance in between you and your subject as possible and only using the flash within a matter of feet (and only inches, ideally), you can guarantee that your photos will be lit correctly.

TIP #7. Prep your Shot

When you push the shutter release button or lever to take a photo, hold it down only half way so it has time to auto focus and decrease the lag time it takes for the shutter to work. While things happen slowly underwater, you can also lose the perfect shot by waiting that extra second for the button to trigger the shutter release.

TIP #8. Mix it Up with Video

Since our cameras are also capable of capturing video, make the most of your trip by getting clips before, during and after your adventure. With video, make sure to start the video early and finish it late. Give yourself some wiggle room to capture what you really want without shaking the camera when turning it on and off.

If you plan on bringing your personal GoPro, a good tip to capture still video is to hold it against your mouth (or snorkel/regulator). This allows the image to be much smoother and more controlled than simply holding it out in front of you. If the GoPro has been in the water and you want to get a surface shot from in-water, an effective way to reduce water spots on the lens is to dry it off with a towel, or, if one is not available, lick the lens.

We hope these tips are useful in making the most out of your next underwater adventure. Likewise, we want you to keep in mind that the most important thing about underwater photography is to secure your safety.

Source: http://www.prideofmaui.com/blog/maui/tips-for-taking-great-underwater-photos.html