Underwater photography (part two)
This article forms part two of a series of underwater photography articles submitted by Flickr member and diving enthusiast, choppyRocks. If you have not already read part one, you may want to first read “My big grin shot 15 meters underwater“.
I only shoot in RAW and use Canon’s Underwater mode for White Balance whilst shooting. Sometimes I white balance using bottom sand underwater. This is fine-tuned in post processing using Canon’s software DPP. White balance used to drive me crazy when I was shooting with film but with the G12, this is no longer a headache. It’s still a good practise to achieve natural colours as much as possible underwater and fine tune this further, post processing.
I use my external strobe for almost all close up shots, unless I get good natural light at shallow depth. This is set to low because I can brighten darker shots easily but I can’t rescue overexposed shots.
At Sipadan, where I’m going to be shooting fast swimming fishes in strong current, I tend to set my camera on shutter speed priority mode (Tv) almost all the time because the accuracy of the shot is most important to me and I know I’m not experienced enough yet to take it speedily on manual as I can with Tv when I come across my favourite fish. My shutter speed is set normally around 1/250 and when I spot a potential subject, I tweak this, exposure compensation and the ISO.
For macro shots or if I’m lucky to have a “still” subject, like turtle or shark resting, I turn to manual mode if possible.
I try to get as close as possible to the subject without spooking it. The less water there is between the camera and the subject, the higher my chance of a great shot. Also, unlike land photography, I find zooming underwater can deteriorate image quality. I use low or no zoom, if possible.
I try to be at the same level or below my subject for a better portrait…be careful though of touching coral, or even worse, scorpion or stone fishes lurking around.
Another habit which I do almost automatically is as my depth changes, I re-check the exposure and adjust the settings accordingly. You can do this easily by half pressing the shutter or take test shots. Again, this is to ensure my camera is always ready.
The more I dive, the more I tend to understand behaviour of different fishes and also where fishes tend to hang out…..I find this really helps me in getting “lucky”.
Take this shot for example. These clown fishes were an aggressive bunch, they keep coming at the camera and I know if I stay long enough, I will get one eventually in the right pose. On the other hand, there are other clownfishes who just dive straight into the anemone when they see you coming, and I know I’d rather spend 10 minutes searching for my next subject rather than getting a crick in my neck waiting for it to re-appear…..unless I’m desperate…..grin.
I always line my underwater housing with tissue paper to minimise fogging when the camera heats up.
And most importantly….buoyancy control! If you find your photos are blurred, nothing is going to save it until you get your buoyancy perfect. You will find that once you take up underwater photography, you will be more aware of how you dive, your buoyancy improves significantly and you’re able to stay down longer because you’re breathing more efficiently…yes, you will become a better diver. And nothing is more rewarding, when you see the results in your photos!
~ Dive safely and good luck in capturing your “big grin shot”~
Post submitted by Flickr member and diving enthusiast, choppyRocks. Visit choppyRocks’ photostream