Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Underwater Photography – 6 key points

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Panning / Image Blurring Effect

The meaning of pictures with blur effect (motion-blur) is that the object in the center is in focus, and the background is blurred. To take a such a shot, you need to install a large excerpt with flash delay. At the time of shooting to move the camera at the same speed with which the subject is moving. Shooting with «wiring» – not the most difficult in this process, especially with such a beautiful creature as the green sea turtle, living in the area of the island of Sipadan in Malaysia, but you’ll have to experiment with long shutter speed. I believe that 1/15 seconds works best. The most difficult phase is the flash regulation. The standard flash is always triggered at the time of opening the shutter, but for this type of images you need to use the flash closer to the moment when the shutter closes. This method is called «sync of flash for the rear curtain shutter».panning photography Nikon Cameras have an advantage, as all professional cameras series Nikon, starting with the camera N90, is easy to work in this mode with any flash. Canon users may need adapter Heinrichs Weikamp to synchronize with external TTL-flashes. For this image is used a Canon EOS 5D in Subal underwater boxing, and two Double flash Ikelite 200 at full power. Exposure 1/6 sec. at f/10 and ISO 100.

Photos of Reefs

While diving in the waters near the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat, I found a place called Nusa Indah. Swimming in shallow water, I saw this huge actinium with two colorful fishes-clowns, but what most attracted my attention – it is a beam of light directly in front of me, which seep through thereef photography hole in the stone wall. This light touched actinium top to cover fish-clowns. Capture on camera what I saw, was not easy. The key to the solution was to use three outbreaks. This allowed me to get a full color range in the foreground, while I selected the correct exposure for the background correction by combining the appropriate aperture and shutter speed. I set the flash up in such a way that the middle one would light the center of the photography.  To reduce back scatter, I sent an external flash so that they covered the rest of the photos only to the edge of the beam. All outbreaks have been included at full capacity, so that I could use the relatively small aperture value (f / 4) to display the foreground with a good depth of field. Since the background was fairly dark, I had to use more restraint (1 / 25 sec.) And try to keep the camera still, so as not to get a blurred image.

Fish Photos

fish photosOf course fishes are the most popular objects for underwater photography but photographing a fish in the ocean is not as easy as it seems. Fish is always in motion, swimming from side to side, showing its tail at a time when we press the shutter button. The key to a good photo of the fish is to find the fish, which itself wants to be photographed. Find the one that does not swim away or hides, and then spend a bit more time: do not do 100 images at once, and wait until the fish takes the right position. Time delay after pressing the shutter button can be minimized if you half pre-click on it and full press at a time when the fish turns to you. Regarding the song, then I most like to shoot fish in front – so they «person» like a human: two eyes, nose and mouth. This allows the observer to see the fish in the human character traits. The fish may look grumpy, sad, surprised or curious. When people are looking at you shoot, begin to talk about emotions, you understand that you’re able to grasp something to remember. This photo shows the dory fish – predator-alone, found in temperate waters from Europe to New Zealand. Strips in the eyes of the fish are a reflection of my flashes. This shot I did using the Nikon D2x, using a macro lens for Sigma 150 mm lens Canon 500D. Settings: 1/250 sec. at f/14.

Large Animal Photography

big creaturesSince large animals are moving objects, often they can be reached at the time of feeding or matrimonial game, when they are closer to the surface. Therefore you need to understand their behavior and in advance to imagine the pictures that you want to take. To do this, you will have time on the boat, as you may need many hours to find hales and calves, resting near the surface, as this pair of islands in Tonga, or fish-sailing ships, driven near the Isla Mujeres in Mexico. However, it is very difficult to find and get close enough to make a photograph, which displays the true size of the animal – in these moments are very useful skills of good swimmers and freedivers. To make such a shot, there is no need to dive deep – we have to dive for only 1.5 – 3 meters, to be on a par with animals. But you’ll have to hurry.

Tips for composition

1. Put something in the frame to show the size of the animal – in these examples, the young whale shark and a flock of fish helps make the main object more impressive.
2. Find the appropriate exposure settings for shooting under diffuse illumination at shallow depths can be a daunting task. Usually take pictures with the aperture priority, because when aperture is open, shutter speed is reduced, which allows me to capture the motion.
3. You can reduce the aperture when the object in the frame moving slowly when needed the effect of horizontal blur, or when I want to increase the depth of field. To equalize the light and dark spots, I believe in Matrix Metering. My main camera – Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III in the box Seacam. Depending on the situation, I use a fixed 14 mm wide angle lens or a 16-35 mm lens with a zoom. Zoom is especially helpful when I can not get to the object as close as we would like.
4. This genre of underwater photography requires more physical training than others, but your efforts will be justified.

Split Photography

split photographyA key element is an impressive split composition. The part of this photo, which shows above the surface, should be as interesting as the underwater part of it. I believe that the best split – those that are made in shallow water, where the undulating sand visible at the bottom, or coral reef, stretches up to the aquifer. You will need super-wide angle lens, such as 14, 15 or 16 mm (for full matrix), or 10.5 mm or 12-24 mm. The lens should be set to f/16 or f/22 to maximize depth of field, and the underwater box should have 8 – or 9-inch hemispherical glass port in order to lengthen the line surface. Both parts – underwater and surface – should be on focus, but if one of them is impossible to get into the focus, let it be the upper part of the photo. You can use a neutral density filter on the surface or use a flash to align the illumination at the surface and under water. For this photo I used two flashes Sea & Sea YS-200 at half power and tilt brackets slightly downward to illuminate the head of a turtle. I used a Nikon F4 camera in the box with the Nexus 8 inch hemispherical port and 30 mm extension ring. A key element of this photo, made on the islands of Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia), was 14 mm f/2.8 lens Tamron, defined by 6 inches, which allowed me to pick up very close to the turtle and make a small object dominant in the photo.

Shark Photography

shark photographyPhotographing sharks requires proper equipment, shooting techniques, training, availability of opportunities and – most fickle ingredient – luck. To take photos of sharks use a hemispherical lens «fish eye» and you have to find a friendly shark. Better to choose fixed lenses or zoom lenses with a focal length in the range of 24-50 mm. In the case of hammer-shark, I used a Canon 1D Mark II with 17-40 mm f / 4 lens, which allowed me to shoot the shark as its approximation, choosing the correct composition, I shot. Rapidly recharged underwater flash Ikelite DS125 has helped me add a few photos of the underwater world. Settings for this picture: 1 / 250 sec. at f / 9, ISO 200. I made a point in the Metering of water and picked 2/3-stop exposure correction. To meet a sharks is largely dependent on the season or their behavior. No one will replace an experienced guide who will take care that you are in the right place at the right time, as well as the need to maintain your safety while scuba diving.

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  • Martin Kielland said:


    What kind of housing and port did you use with the D1 MKII, 17-40mm setup? I´m using Ikelite with the standard 6″ domeport, but the pictures gets unsharp in the corners and I am considering to buy another lens or port.




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