1. Familiarise yourself with the different camera functions you will use underwater and practise as much as possible on land. Familiarity with your camera lets you concentrate on other aspects of taking photos such as composition and allows you to make adjustments quickly underwater. Practise with the camera in it's housing.
2. For shots where the subject is less than 1m away, always use the internal flash and macro setting. Lighting conditions vary significantly more underwater than on land and getting close to the subject will maximise the effects of your flash. Use the auto white balance setting.
3. If the subject is further than 1m away, manually white balance the camera or use a red filter to compensate for the loss of warm colours underwater. Many modern cameras have an underwater setting which will automatically add more red to your photos. Try to avoid using the flash as this is likely to reflect particles in the water.
4. Practise good buoyancy control to avoid damaging aquatic marine life and try to stay off the bottom. A good tip is to inhale before you move in for your shot and then exhale after taking your shot when moving away from your subject. With air in your lungs you are less likely to sink on to the reef. Exhaling before taking your shot is likely to scare you subject away.
5. Try to shoot with the camera facing in an upward direction, get low, preferably with the sun behind you to maximise the use of ambient light (add illu here).
6. If possible, try to select a subject separate from a cluttered background. (Please never touch or move a subject!) Your subject will stand out more if it is distanced from the reef, or better still, set against a blue water background. (use two photo examples)
7. Try adjusting the exposure value (EV). Increasing the EV will make photos brighter in low light conditions, but at the expense of less contrast. Reducing the EV will make the photos darker but will increase the contrast. Most professionals set the EV to -0.7 (-2/3) when shooting with a flash or external strobe. It is also possible to increase the contrast later in photoshop.
9. Start with simple subjects. The pressures on aquatic life are great and your presence is likely to scare marine life even before you point your camera. Practise with static subjects such as sea stars and soft corals to build your confidence and hone your skills.
10. Try not to become to dependent on post dive editing with the use of photoshop. Many divers take poor photos and rely on Photoshop to fix them. Photoshop is without a doubt a powerful tool to use to touch up your photos, but use it sparingly. Overly retouched images can appear fake. Mastering your camera's settings and using them properly underwater will result in better quality photos which require only a few adjustments in photoshop, such as increasing contrast and removing any back scatter caused by the flash.
1. Use an external strobe or strobes. Used with a diffuser strobes will give you more light spread over a greater area. Placing the strobe further away from your camera on an arm reduces back scatter. Remember when using a strobe to tape over the camera's internal flash. You will also have to decrease the camera's ISO setting. Most professionals use ISO 60-100 when shooting with an external strobe. You may need to adjust this underwater to reach the desired effect.
2. Consider the use of different lenses. Wet lenses are available for a wide range of point and shoot cameras which can be fitted with the use of an adapter. These lenses can be simply changed underwater depending on the type of shot you wish to take. Use macro lenses if you like to shoot nudibranchs or other small critters. Use a wide angle lens for sea fans or shots where you wish to include a model or large marine life such as manta rays.
3. The Art of Composition. A picture must have a central theme or subject. Try to identify a primary point of interest when composing a photograph. Once you have determined the centre of focus you can recompose to emphasie it. For macro images the backgound or 'negative space' should not overpower the subject, it should help to emphasise it. For wide angle the water is often the best background.
4. How to compose. Get below your subject and shoot up into open water. Pictures with loud colours such as red will grab the viewers attention and make them stand out. The position of your subject is critical. Main subjects off centre will appear more pleasing to the eye.
5. Orientation. Many beginners make the mistake of shooting only landscape pictures. try varying your shots with some portrait shots too. Portrait photos often give a different perspective that is much more interesting.
6. Remember the rule of thirds. Divide your composition into thirds both vertically and horizontally. Dominant subjects should fall onto one of the intersecting points. (use photo example here with the lines on). Too often placing the subject in the centre of the image makes the picture look posed. You don't have to target the exact intersection point, but simply these general areas.
7. Use foreground, background and negative space for maximum effect. Foreground is the area in the picture between the viewer and the subject. It can be empty or have elements that give the photo depth. Elements in the foreground should not distract from the subject. Backgound is the area behind the subject. It too may be empty or have elements to create depth. Negative space is the area that is not the subject. It should not directly attract the viewers attention. Negative space is important because it balances the subject.
8. When using an external strobe vary the aperture settings. Most professional use a shutter speed or 1/60 - 1/125 and then adjust the aperture or f-stop to create stunning effects. A low f-stop number or large aperture will let in more light with less depth of field. This will provide focus on the subject whilst blurring the background. A high f-stop or small aperture lets in less ambient light so only the subject is illuminated.
In our more than ten years of diving the Similan Islands, the Mergui Archipelago and the Andaman Islands, we have seen a major diversity of marine life, met many fun new people and witnessed some fantastic underwater scenes, all of which we have tried to capture on film. Being photography enthusiasts, our photo library has of course become very extensive over the years. We herewith include just a selection of our favourites. Should you be looking for something specific and not be able to find it here, let us know. We would also be happy to provide photography courses and workshops for those interested in learning to hone their skills in underwater photography.
"I had a truly super day out with these guys today. All the arrangements were excellent and i was well looked after by some really nice people. Did a days diving from a longtail boat. Lovely way to do it at a relaxed pace to a fantastic dive site. Having travelled and dived extensively I can honestly say this was a world class experience. I would not hesitate to recommend this to others. Top notch."★★★★★ by Spikerstravels 30.11.2011 0.3