As any experienced scuba diver would know, the number one rule of scuba is “don’t hold your breath!”… Unless you are trying to take a photograph under the water! As you breathe, you naturally move up and down in the water. When scuba diving, bubbles naturally come out in the water as you exhale, so you must make sure you aren’t exhaling at the moment you’re snapping the picture. Otherwise, you’ll have a very nice photograph of air bubbles instead of that magnificent shark you hoped to capture on film.
So, how do scuba divers effectively capture those elusive fish and underwater sea creatures on film? First and foremost, if you are new to underwater photography as a scuba diver, don’t expect to take great photographs right away. It definitely takes practice. Your first developed roll of film may look like a bunch of dark blobs in a sea of water. With perseverance and practice, you will eventually master underwater photography.
Here Are a Few Guidelines To Underwater Photography
1) You must be an experienced diver before you can take on the art of underwater photography. There is so much to remember when you are a new scuba diver and your very life depends on making sure you clear your mask when needed, check your gauges, and maintain your buoyancy so you aren’t going up and down by several feet under the water. A camera in hand before you master these skills will only complicate things and possibly get you into real trouble.
2) Purchase good camera equipment. The first time you try scuba photography, you may want to simply rent your equipment from your local dive shop. Once you’re hooked on taking photographs under the water, it’s wise to invest in your own camera and housing. Make sure you check the housing description to see if it can go under the water to the depth you’ll be going. For example, if it is only rated for a depth of 12 feet, it will probably leak at a depth of 50 or 90 feet under the water. If you want to take photographs just for fun, an inexpensive camera will do the trick. However, if you’re interested in selling your photos, you’ll need to invest in a camera that will accommodate strobes, a wide-angle lens, a close-up lens, a sync box and housing.
3) Learn the science behind taking underwater photographs. Take a basic instructional course or get a book on underwater photography. You’ll be glad you did.
4) Practice, practice, practice. Practice on land first. Then, use your camera under the water in a swimming pool. Practice setting the correct aperture, shutter speed and focus by taking pictures of an object of your choice under the water. Ideally, begin with a stationary object on the bottom of the pool. Get a good feel for how your camera is performing under the water and you’ll be more ready for your first dive trip with camera in hand.
5) Composition is key when taking photographs on land. It’s no different under the water, except you have to account for visibility and moving objects. Practice getting your composition right on land and you’ll have an easier time in the water.
6) Don’t hold back! Once you’re under the water, take a lot of photographs! You’re bound to get a few good ones and perhaps even a few great ones to boot.
Be sure to display your best underwater photographs where you’ll be sure to enjoy them. Keep a photo album for the rest of the photos. Most of all have fun and enjoy the art of underwater photography.