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Underwater photography is one of the most impressive visual mediums and it can provide opportunities that would otherwise be extremely rare. Most people think of underwater photography as taking pictures of colorful fish and ship wrecks. While it may partially be about that, there are a great deal of things you can accomplish in your own pool, provided you have a creative imagination. There are however a few things you should keep in mind before you start experimenting with underwater photography. Here they are.
In case you haven’t figured it out by yourself yet, photographing underwater is slightly different than doing it on dry land. The water and salinity of the ocean will make your photos look a little less sharp than normal. The contrast might also be lower, not to mention the light. The deeper you dive, the less light you will have. It’s best to be prepared for all this before putting on a wet suit.
Choosing the right gear for underwater photography and video largely depends on what outcome you’re looking for. If you want to do it as a personal experiment, an entertainment during a summer vacation or as a hobby, you probably don’t need anything fancy. Most sealed compacts will handle a depth of up to 30 ft. A GoPro Hero 3 will go deeper, up to almost 200 feet and deliver fairly good quality. But if you’re looking for pro level results, you can’t beat a DSLR. That means you will have to invest in a protective housing. Whichever option you choose, just make sure the camera can handle cold temperatures, should you be using it in extreme conditions.
As long as you stay in shallow waters, especially during the warm season, you should be fine from a lighting point of view. You should have plenty of sunlight to work with, and if things aren’t quite as expected, a boost of ISO should take care of it.
However, if you plan on visiting a sunken ship that is in deeper water, you better prepare yourself with a flash unit. If you are using a compact camera, the built in flash might only work for close range objects. If you’re equipped with a DSLR, consider a ring flash. Things can get really dark down there and it would be a shame to come back up to surface with unusable photos.
The best lenses for underwater photography are wide-angle lenses. They are easier to control and offer a larger perspective. Also, try using the brightest lens you can find.
Usually when photographing underwater, color temperature tends to change so expect some difficulty from the camera if you chose a preset value. It’s best to constantly adapt it manually, while underwater.
The most important thing to remember about underwater photography is that it requires patience and an understating of the fact that because of the low visibility, everything else is affected. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same as on dry land. The same composition rules apply, and you can either take great photos or horrible snapshots. It’s up to you.