Friday, 6 July 2012

Underwater Photography - Part 1

Part 1

So this being my first ever post i thought I'd start off with something i find really cool...i.e.  taking underwater photos!

I'm no expert but I've spent enough time in the sea to have a few tips of my own. My methods aren't complicated and have basically been gathered through lots of trial and error (mostly error!!) hahahaha!!!

I know this should go without saying but first of all you'll need a camera that can function/operate underwater. Preferably one that goes to about 10m underwater. There are a number of these on the market these days Nikon, Cannon, Panasonic, Pentax and even Olympus makes a couple. My choice and my favorite so far however, is the Cannon (left). I've used the Cannon Powershot D10 to take some pretty neat underwater shots (all my underwater shots have been taken with the D10).

This is the Cannon D20, and its something i'd really like to try out but have not had the opportunity offers HD recording which the D10 doesn't have...i'm sure it has other goodies as well.

I have used the Olympus too and though i do prefer the body / physical structure of the Olympus (to the left), the Cannon chip/processor still is second to none (in my opinion). The colors/sensors tend just pick up more and is more vibrant.

Having said that though though I am a very firm believer that it is not the equipment that makes a good photographer but instead it is the photographer's skill and ability to see and "feel" where a really "neat" shot can be taken from. You can have the most fancy-shamcy gear but if you dont know how to use it then its no use.... With the most modest of cameras (as i have), you could take some pretty decent shots!

Anywho.....I was on Christmas Island not too long ago, and though this tiny island has had some bad press lately, I have come to love the amazing marine-life and underwater sea-scape.

So Tip #1 Sunlight Is Your friend!!! 

You can never get enough sunlight....The reason for this is that naturally, there are particles in the seawater which in greater quantities reduces visibility drastically (which is bad). You cant control the visibility of the sea water so you're going to have to make do (i'll explain this later). The more sunlight you have the more vibrant the colours of the marine life come out!! Even mundane creatures like the common (and very menacing) sea urchin displays almost luminescent qualities! BUT DONT GET TOO CLOSE trying to get the shot, you know you WILL get stabbed their needles!! The below photo was taken completely with sunlight and no other light or flash of any kind.


Tip #2 If in doubt...go MACRO!!

In the event that the visibility is crap (but there is still good sunlight), then adapt and experiment with Underwater MACRO Shots!! Most point-and-shoot cameras have the Macro function, and "most" of the time it works fine...but i would advise you to try going into its manual manual settings and seeing how close you can get without spooking the marine-life:

Example A - the tiny little Christmas trees you see on the side of coral, very elegant and very colorful but if you spook them they'll just disappear and shrink into the rock!

Example B - Your ordinary clam, often overlooked by snorkelers/free-divers as its so common...but in fact they are very colorful!

The auto-focus Macro function may not always work smoothly underwater (i know my little D10 had a bit of trouble), i suspect that it is because, inevitably underwater, you will always be moving (even just slightly) and the little camera's processor can't keep up. Hence if you go into manual mode and lock it at a certain distance, you can always try to anchor your hand near your target and take several snaps at its sharpest image.

So remember, if you've got good sunlight but low visibility underwater it does not necessarily mean "game over" for your day of taking underwater snaps...just experiment, play around with your camera's settings. Its all about having fun, understanding what your camera likes and how you can best feed it! :)

Ok that's it for Part 1, its getting late over here and I didn't realize its already 11:48pm!!

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