42nd Street Photo’s Underwater Photography TipsPosted on October 20th, 2009
Gear: Some may prefer a point-and-shoot system; others may want manual control in a compact digital, while others may want a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. So defining the ideal camera must start with the shooter’s needs. For a manual compact digital, the Olympus SP350 is great, and for SLR the Nikon D200 and D2x in Subal housings. For the point and shoot, there are several Olympus systems and even the SeaLife with a wide-angle lens.
Best use of your camera: Get a versatile strobe arm, such as the UltraLight, if you want to vary your lighting. This type of arm is for the diver who is comfortable in the water and wants to improve his style. For any camera, if there is a wide angle lens available, add it to your system.
Perfect Technique: Blurry photos are from too much movement or too slow a shutter speed. Master your balance and buoyancy because that is the most important part of getting great photos underwater. You can’t compose, adjust strobe angles and analyze your results if you are kicking, falling over and scaring your subject away.
Most common mistake: Shooting from too far away. You should take a photo, get closer and take another, and then get closer yet until either you can’t fit the subject into your picture area or the subject leaves. If the fish stays still, move in and shoot just the eye, but keep getting closer.
Here are a few other tips for underwater photography from 42nd Street Photo
- Get out and shoot. Find a place to dive near where you live.
- Don’t use digital zoom
- Make sure you understand the focusing distance of your camera in and out of macro mode. Use macro mode when you are within the macro focusing distance.
- Bring a dive light with you to help your camera auto-focus
- If you turn your flash off, either manual white-balance your camera, or set it to underwater mode
- Anticipate what you might see underwater, adjust your strobe, f-stop ahead. It would be big mistake, to see a shark and having your camera at F22
- Learn how to use your histogram and highlights screen, and use them often
- Use a 100mm or 105mm lens to emphasize or isolate the subject, and reduce the background
- Get the exposure right in camera; don’t rely on post-processing