Are you a keen Scuba diver, but have never really managed to share that amazing experience with your family and friends? Impressing them with a colourful underwater snap shots of coral and marine life may just do the trick to get them interested and in awe of your adventures.
Luckily underwater photography it is getting heaps easier and cheaper. Even some very affordable digital cameras can now be taken down to 3-10 meters. The range of special underwater camera’s that are currently on the market is huge, both for still photography and video.
Here’s some tips to get good underwater footage: 1. Get a good quality underwater camera, or buy a secure underwater housing for your existing camera. The amount of megapixels isn’t the most important; you want a camera that has a macro mode, is good to use in poor light conditions with a housing that has bigger buttons.
Before you enter the water, set the camera to a low ISO (100) and highest possible pixel quality. Empty your memory card before the dive: nothing is more frustrating than running out of shots underwater, since you can’t do anything about it until you surface again.
2. Think carefully about composition. Don’t shoot from above: get down there and point at eye-level with the sun behind you. On the other hand: a shot from underneath can have amazing results when a bigger fish, ray or turtle swims through the incoming rays of sunlight. Get as close as you safely can and use the macro mode (for shots between 2.5 and 60cm). Clearly choose the object of your photo and let it fill the frame. Avoid using the zoom lens. Also remember that objects appear to be closer and larger underwater than they actually are due to refraction.
For a scenic setting turn the macro mode and flash off. This can only really work in shallower clear water, unless you have professional equipment. Having a fellow diver in the shots helps to put the size of the fish and coral into perspective.
3. Be aware of colour changes. Remember your dive course? Everything will appear blue, as the other colours are filtered out gradually the deeper you get. So use your internal flash to bring that colour back into your picture. Get used to shooting in poor light by practising the use of the flash above the water first. Once you are used to having a camera with you underwater and your shots get better, buying am external flash or a strobe is good option to improve the quality of your images
4. Keep looking around while you get your shot right. We at Adreno have heard of stories of people capturing a clown fish from up close, and missing that big manta ray that just swam past! Also make sure you buddy waits for you when you are having fun with your camera...
5. Adjust the shutter speed if your pictures turn out to be blurry underwater (faster for moving objects). If you are unsure about manual settings on your camera, just use the ‘auto’ shooting mode and practise only a few manual shots every time you go for a dive to see its effects. Some cameras have an underwater setting, which is excellent for achieving the right light without too much fuss.
6. Remember to rinse out and dry your underwater housing after every use, to avoid salt building up and rust forming. But close the housing before you do that: the inside should remain dry at all times! You can fill it with a sachet that contains granules that soak up moist when storing your camera.
7. If you can’t be bothered with fiddling with a camera while diving, but still want to capture and share your experience, consider getting an underwater video camera. The prices of those have come down a lot and these days many are sold with mounting systems for on a helmet or BCD, which allows you to film hands free!
Good luck, and don’t forget to share your underwater photos with other divers on our Adreno Scuba Diving Facebook page!