One of many reasons I enjoy working at Atmosphere is that I can take my camera with me when I am diving with guests. Not only does this help me build my portfolio, but guests can get a better view of the tiny macro critters we see when the photos are enlarged on my computer after the dive. This has been a great year for my underwater photography – I won a category in a national photo contest and I have had my photographs in my first three publications – two photos in Sport Diver Magazine (April, October) and two in The Undersea Journal’s 3rd and 4th Quarters.
When the editors contacted me about my photo in the Undersea Journal, they wanted five tips for underwater photographers. I’ve decided to share them with you since they are tips for photographers of any level and, if you follow them, can help you improve your photography as well.
- Bracket your shot – Sometimes your camera’s screen shows a slightly different picture underwater than on the surface. To eliminate this problem, take multiple shots of your subject from the same angle, except change the settings like exposure and shutter speed to give yourself different versions.
- Shoot up – Try to get as low as possible when you take a shot, while practicing good buoyancy. By shooting up you can create a much more appealing photo and can isolate the subject. For example, by having the blue ocean as the background.
- Tell a story – When taking a photo, you want viewers to be able to answer the question, “Why am I looking at this?” Try to compose a shot that conveys that.
- Take practice shots – I’ve missed many shots because of wrong camera settings, so I practice in the beginning of a dive. Before looking for your subjects, take pictures of stationary objects from the distances and angles you might use, this way you know the settings you need.
- Focus on the eye – Whether you are going for a blurry background or everything in focus, you must have the eye in focus. We are naturally drawn to the eye in a photo of an animal and, even if the rest of the photo is stunning, a blurry eye can ruin the photo.
The Undersea Journal, 3rd Quarter 2015
You don’t need a fancy camera to get black backgrounds or eye-popping macro shots. They definitely help, but are not absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, all three of my photos were shot with my SeaLife DC1400 compact camera, not my new Olympus EPL-5 mirrorless camera. Whether you use a small compact camera or a huge setup with multiple strobes, your underwater photography shots can improve if you follow these tips, so keep practicing and keep improving!
PADI Undersea Journal, Fourth Quarter 2015
Daniel Geary / Your marine biologist