7 Tips for Underwater Photography

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By Shane Gross

 

There are many underwater photography tip articles out there so I am simply adding a few general things I have observed and learned. My hope is that it inspires you to go and shoot, respect, share and enjoy the wild side of our planet.

 

1) Break the Rules

Whatever you have heard, read or will read here, it is important to think outside the box. Reproducing the same type of images over and over is boring. You want to contribute something unique and interesting, so experiment. Digital allows us to take many images, use this advantage and find out what works and what doesn’t.

Many rules are broken here. It is shooting down on the subject, the subject is centered, the background is distracting and yet it works.

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2) When the Sea Gives You Lemons…

We will not always have the fortune of crystal clear water. Instead of leaving your camera topside (or not diving at all) you can try to take advantage of the situation. In this manatee image the murky water was used to give a sense of mystery back to the manatee as she emerges from the gloom.

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3) Become a Fan

Look at underwater images. It sounds simple, however it will pay off. Learning other photographers styles will help you develop your own. You can see what is out there and how you can be different and stand out. Ask yourself what type of images do I enjoy looking at? What blows my hair back? That is a great place to start. When you find images that that you love ask yourself what is it about this photograph in particular? How can I use this information to influence my own work. Remember there is no end to learning and enjoying this great pursuit. Like any art it evolves and changes over time. Keeping up with photography’s evolution will help to inspire your images and find new ways to express yourself

Taking inspiration from fashion photography – a model in a pool offers opportunities when the ocean is far away

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4) Know Thy Self

It can be difficult to judge your own work. We need objective critiques. There are many small, but fun photo contests out there to enter to help you gauge your work. You can also enter bigger, more competitive contests as you progress. Some websites will even give you a full critique from an advanced or professional photographer. Check out underwaterphotography.com – under their “forums” menu they offer a photo critique service. It is not only valuable to have your own work looked at, but reading other critiques can offer great insights on how to improve.

Sailfish hunt down a sardine baitball

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5) Get Closer

Virtually every article written on underwater photography mentions “get close to your subject”, but it is so critical and important it must be stressed again. Get within centimetres if possible. Learn as much about your subject as you can to assist you in getting close.  Having sharp diving skills will also allow you to be calm and slowly approach your subject.

A blue shark comes really close to the camera’s lens

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6) Be Responsible

None of this matters if we do not respect the animals and their environment. No shot is worth disturbing an animal or crashing into a reef. Be a good diver with good buoyancy control and do not rush towards animals. Having fish, sharks, turtles etc. get scared and bolt away will not help you get interesting images and will ruin the experience for everyone on the dive.

Isla Mujeres whale sharks do not like flash photography, so we work with only natural light – a small price to pay to keep the sharks happy.

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7) Have Fun

Nuff said.

Being underwater can offer amazing interactions and experiences as with this encounter with a friendly bull shark in Mexico.

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6 thoughts on “7 Tips for Underwater Photography

    • Thank you for your kind words. You are welcome to share with your students and please feel free to pass along this website as there will be many more diving and underwater photography articles coming in the near future.

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