In the introduction to this article, we discussed some of the built-in challenges that come with shooting under water, such as distortion and lack of light. Additionally, you're often dealing with living and moving creatures. However, with some practice and a few handy tricks, you can overcome these problems. Here are a few to get you going:
- Get as close as possible to your subject -- By getting as close as possible, you'll have more clarity and color in your photos. With more than just a few feet between you and your subject, you'll start losing colors. This is why a wide-angle or macro lens is helpful, because you can get close without losing focus.
- Work on composition -- Fill the entire frame of your camera in order to cut down on unwanted details.
- Shoot in the right direction -- Shoot up at your subjects, which is easier in SCUBA diving than snorkeling. This will really separate your subject in the frame from everything around it.
- Use your flash or strobe wisely -- The deeper you go, the less light you'll have, which means that your photos will have a blue cast if you don't use your lighting appropriately. Especially for beginners, you may want to set your camera to forced flash and manual white balance modes for all photos less than three or four feet away from your subject. This will help you get the colors you are seeking in your end photos. As you progress, you can start working with different levels of lighting and white balance.
- Approach with care -- Approach your subjects from underneath so you avoid surprising them. Go slowly, and try cutting down on exhale noises by holding your breath. Don't change depths quickly, either, as this can have a negative effect on your safety if you experience a pressure change). Spend as much time as possible with your subjects to create opportunities for getting an interesting shot.
So you've bought your equipment and done your research, and now you've actually gone on your photo adventure. What's next? Now you get to reap the rewards of your hard work and store away your gear for another day. Read on to learn about equipment maintenance and working with your photos.