How To Photography: 5 Important Digital Photography Tips You Should Know to Capture the Beauty Below the Waves
As with all digital photography equipment, there is a large choice of underwater gear at most price points. If you’re a typical vacation photographer or even a passionate enthusiast, then all you need is one of the many affordable, waterproof cameras, which most of the major manufacturers offer: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4, Fujifilm FinePix XP170, Nikon Coolpix AW100 and Canon PowerShot D20. Most of these cameras are waterproof to 33 feet, with the Panasonic rated to 39 feet; however, enclose the DMC-TS4 in Panasonic’s optional Marine Case (DMW-MCFT3) and you can dive as deep as 130 feet (40m)
Depending on the clarity of the water and the depth you expect to be taking pictures, you should consider an artificial light source. Colors will register more accurately and you’ll be able to shoot at a faster shutter speed. Your compact camera’s built-in flash is better than no added light, but your underwater images will be even better with a separate flash unit (which, of course, must also be protected from the water).
Two common shooting tips you would use on land are particularly important underwater. Move as close to your subject as possible, safely, so there is less water between your camera and the subject. This will result in sharper images, improved color saturation and better contrast. If you’re photographing underwater creatures, then follow the same basic guideline for pet photography: Positioning yourself at eye level creates a much better composition than at an angle from above.
If you’ve been scuba diving or snorkeling, then you know it’s an activity that requires much of your attention and concentration. Now, you will be adding a simultaneous activity, digital photography. Being safe doing both starts prior to your vacation with an inspection of your equipment and/or underwater procedures. You also want to be thoroughly familiar with your camera, especially if you will be using an underwater camera or housing for the first time. Make sure you know how to use the gear before your first dive. Better yet, practice with the equipment underwater in your backyard or neighborhood pool. You can’t be too prepared or safe!
You’ll enjoy your first, or latest, underwater photography adventure much more with the right balance of safety and fun. It’s so easy to wander into an unsafe area or dive too deep if your eye is to the back of your camera constantly. Raise your head and check your position every few minutes, plus you’ll find more great subjects and scenes you might have missed.
With summer in full swing, you may be one of many digital photographers who are headed to the beach or your favorite lake for watersports and other activities. With a bit of planning, you can greatly enhance your vacation or adventure photo album with underwater images. A pristine tropical reef may be the best environment for underwater digital photography, but if you’re properly equipped, then you can also capture fun pictures of your children and friends enjoying the water wherever you may travel, even if it is no further than your backyard or neighborhood pool.
Olympus has a long-standing reputation for making some of the best adventure cameras and underwater housing equipment, so it knows how to waterproof a camera. The Olympus TG-1 is built with an innovative sealing system and double-lock construction, so it’s waterproof to 40 feet (12m).
The added bonus of purchasing one of these underwater cameras is that they are built and equipped for rugged use in most all outdoor environments and adventure situations. Take these cameras with you climbing, surfing, kayaking, hiking, trail biking or wherever you find action.
Expect to spend in the $300 to $400 range for a compact underwater camera. Some manufacturers are offering rebates during summer 2012.
You’re other underwater photography equipment option is to purchase a waterproof housing for your “regular” compact camera; but just make sure it is manufactured specifically for your camera.
Consider renting an underwater/adventure camera and/or a waterproof housing, especially if this is a very occasional digital photography opportunity. The cost should be less than the price of an underwater camera.
Don’t spend all your time underwater. Use your waterproof camera in the surf or the shallow water of the beach to photograph your kids having fun. You can wade into any depth and shoot from the top of the water or below it to bring home pictures of your kids you would never otherwise have the opportunity to take.
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Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Charles Richardson