Getting Started With Underwater Photography

Getting Started With Underwater Photography

Getting Started With Underwater Photography

Stop and think before getting started with underwater photography. Many do but buying and underwater digital camera shouldn’t be your first equipment purchase. Be safe and confident with your diving skills before you add extra stress and a massive distraction. Getting good results with modern digital cameras is fairly straight forward if you get the basics right. By the basics we mean the diving.

Focus On Diving First

You wouldn’t expect great photo results if you’re running around or jumping up and down on land. The same applies for diving – if you’re furiously kicking to hold position or rising up and down then it’s almost impossible to get the subject in focus. As with all photography, you’ll need a stable base to shoot from, underwater that means you.

You’re very rarely going to be the finished article after you’ve completed the Open Water. Sure you’ll be safe and very much enjoying your diving but you won’t have complete control for quite a while. Only when you have complete control and awareness of the environment should you consider adding a camera to your dive kit. So the first bit of advice for getting started with underwater photography is don’t buy a camera!

Be Safe

A camera can very quickly become the focal point of your dive, leading to some unsafe practices. We’ve seen divers shoot up to get a photo of a manta ray close to the surface – completely ignoring safe ascent rates. Air consumption can increase dramatically as divers shoot around from one subject to another. The camera menu gets a lot more attention than your air gauge – obviously it shouldn’t…

Ingraining safe dive practices into your mind set should be of the up-most importance. You’ll find it much easier to stay safe when taking photos if it’s already a habit.

Environmental Awareness

Every professional understands that not every new diver has perfect control and will readily assist new divers in improving their dive skills. Few will tolerate complete lack of respect for the environment. This doesn’t just apply only to new divers. There’s a few experienced divers who will basically do anything for the shot. Snapping off corals, laying on the reef or even moving the animals into a more photogenic position. There’s no excuse nowadays for divers not to be environmental aware. If you can’t take the photo without causing damage – then don’t!

Try At Home First

When you are ready to add a camera to your dive kit, make sure you get acquainted with all the controls at home before taking it into the ocean. The current global situation is the perfect time to practice photography at home or in your garden. Replace the nudibranch’s with insects and corals with flowers. Really get to know how your camera works so you’re ready when we get the green light to go diving again.

Experiment with exposure, depth of field and composition. All can be done in your own home. Remember the effects that different settings have on your photos and use that knowledge when you’re underwater again. You’ll definitely have to readjust for how light is affected underwater but you’ll have a sound knowledge of how your camera works so getting the best possible images.

You can also do some homework by checking out websites such as the the underwater photography guide. A great resource for both beginners and pro’s. You may even find out how to set up your particular camera model for varying kinds of shots.

Manage Expectations

Many of the stunning underwater images that you see on the web are taken with high end cameras with lots of very expensive accessories. Don’t expect to get these kind of results anytime soon. Slowly build up your camera kit, making sure that you fully understand each new component before purchasing the next. With time, patience and unfortunately a considerable amount of cash you will get there but being a safe, controlled diver is the first step on the path.

Other Options

Most guides will be happy to take photos for you – most will charge but it’s better than taking home a memory card full of green blur. Showing good images to your friends and family will give a greater chance of them joining the diving world one day.

Taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty will accelerate your learning and a camera can be a useful tool to use on the course. If you’re thinking about the PADI Advanced Open Water course then consider buoyancy and photo modules.

Just Be Patient

Over your first few dives without a camera you may miss a thing or two but it could prevent a lot of frustration, potential accidents and even save you money. It’s not unheard for divers to constantly upgrade the camera rig thinking that the camera is the problem. A bad worker always blames the tools…

So with a little patience you’ll soon be taking some great photos and showing off your images to friends and family. Rather than forcing them to stare at blurry images of what could be anything….

By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my experience and passion on this blog.

Posted in Photo Tips & Tricks on .

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