February 06, 2012

Five underwater photography tips

Underwater photography is fantastic fun and it can also be a great way to capture unusual images. The world below the surface is outside our everyday experience, so the photos taken down there can show us sights we might not otherwise get to see. In this post, our guest blogger – Jess Spate describes some very useful and interesting tips on how to capture the underwater world.

underwater photography tips

Here are five tips for those who'd like to take good photos underwater:

1). You don't need to buy specialist underwater photography camera but neither should you settle for a cheap disposable one. It's hard to get good quality from a disposable camera and you'll have to get the film developed rather than just upload the pictures. The best thing to do is get a waterproof underwater housing for your existing digital camera. Get the right model and you'll be able to zoom and change functions just as you would on the surface.

2). Practice makes perfect. The best way to improve your photography skills on land is to experiment and it's no different underwater. Try different focal lengths and exposures and see what you can do when you're under the surface, but before you get in the water, make sure to take a few shots through the housing just to make sure you're comfortable. Shooting through a housing can feel awkward at first.

3). If there is no need for a flash, don't use one. This might seem obvious but it's actually one of the most useful of all underwater photography tips. When you're close to the surface in bright sunny water, artificial light will only cause problems. Either it can make your subject look unnaturally lit against a natural background, or the flash light can reflect of small particles suspended in the water and come back to hit the lens. This problem is called backscatter and it's characterized by a scattering of annoying white dots across the image.

4). When the water isn't perfectly clear or it's a little dark, take more macro shots. While shooting in water it's usually easiest to get good close-ups. The colors will be more vivid and backscatter problems are reduced when there isn't much water between the camera and the subject.

5). Try varying your lighting angle. Using an external flash or underwater strobe positioned away from the lens is a good way to reduce backscatter and it can also really help bring out textures. If you haven't got an external flash, you can always try lighting with a strong dive flashlight. For best effect, get a friend or dive buddy to hold it away from your camera. This trick is great for corals, seaweeds, and rocky outcrops.

 underwater photography texture

The pictures in this article were supplied by Mozaik Underwater Cameras.

Jess Spate is an avid scuba diver and photographer, running the website Outdoor Equipment Online.