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Adventure, Fish / December 15, 2015

Underwater Photography for Beginners

Written by: Eric Billips

If you’re a scuba diver, odds are you are either already taking underwater photos or you want to. But living in today’s technological world, there are so many different options for underwater photography equipment. Just browsing the internet can render you confused, frustrated and unmotivated. Don’t be discouraged! Bringing the underwater world to the surface via photography and videography is easier than you think.

There are many levels to underwater photography, but for our purposes, we’re going to focus on simple, affordable equipment and techniques. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll be better equipped to invest and upgrade your supplies and education.

1. Figure out what type of camera is best for you.
There are quite a few options, but we’re going to narrow it down to two. One would be a camera that is made, built, and constructed to be an underwater or adventure camera, i.e. GoPro. The second is a normal, land-based camera that you’d use on vacation or at birthday parties; the exception is now, you’ll be putting it in an underwater housing. Both options are for “point and shoot” users – meaning there is no balancing or adjusting for small critters (macro), simply point the camera at the subject and click the shoot button. Remember, there are numerous software options to improve your photos before inundating your social media with your adventurous underwater hobby. You can pick up a GoPro or Sealife Camera for approximately $350. Or, you can buy a housing for your current camera, which differs in cost depending on your model.


2. Keep the flash on or turn on the underwater mode.
Color begins to disappear the further we descend. Your photos will look a little blue without a flash. But don’t do both flash and underwater mode; your photos will come out reddish-orange. However, if you are shooting sharks, rays, and the like, turn your flash off. Unless you’re in incredibly clear, gin-like water, the flash will pick up all the little particles and your photo will be snowy.


3. Get close.
Your best photos are going to be taken from approximately three feet away with a flash. Unless your shooting fast-moving critters, get close and flash on. If possible get within a few inches of your subject, be at eye level with the subject facing you. Remember the closer you are, the better your color, contrast and sharpness will be. Attempt to fill the frame with your subject.


4. Concentrate on two types of underwater shots.
a) Close up shots, with subjects a few inches away, auto balanced, flash on with subject filling the frame.
b) Scenic coral reef shots several feet away, shallow water, 25 feet or less with the flash off.

5. Get out there!
Now, you’re ready to plan that vacation to the Keys for some fishing and diving, and to master underwater photography. Digital cameras allow you to shoot away, trying new techniques. Looking for more tips? Take an underwater photography class. Most dive shops offer fun, educational classes. So, go on, grab an underwater camera, learn some tricks, and dive in.

about the author

Eric Billips

A hobby became a passion and then a dream became a reality for Captain Eric with the opening of Islamorada Dive Center. Eric traded his business suit for a wetsuit when he moved to the Florida Keys from Michigan.

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