How underwater photography differs from photography?
As a photographer, you are surely looking at new things to shoot,
new fields to explore and new ways to market and promote your work.
Underwater photography was once a field for professional divers
and wealthly individuals but today, this cannot be more far from the
truth. The pricing of the equipment has gone down significantly and
the community of underwater photographers in the world has grown
The amount of information, guides and tutorials that can be found
online on the subject is large enough for every basic photographer
to make the transition to underwater photography in a
matter of days.
What’s different in underwater photography ?
1) The substance in which you are shooting, water , is very
different than air in its clarity, color, density and lighting.
Since most cameras are designed for shooting in air, the automatic
calculations of focus, exposure and light is not good enough to work
underwater. Of course every professional photographer does not shoot in automatic but decent results can be achieved above water when shooting on automatic with a good camera. Underwater, this is most probably not possible and Manual shooting is required.
2) Above water , you can shoot subjects and scenery that is even
10’s of kilometres away, let alone shooting people at 50-100 mts.
Underwater , even in the most clearest of seas, it is almost
impossible to shoot a subject more than 30 mts. away. In most cases
this number is closer to 5-10 mts. This would mean that you would
have to concentrate on Macro photography or use a very wide angle
lens to shoot scenery or wide shots such as wrecks.
3) The sun is the best lighting source available for normal
photography. It can be used at different times of the days for
different color balance effects and beautiful backgrounds.
Underwater, the sun fades quickly and red colors cannot be seen.
Using the sun as your ambient light source might be good for up to 5
mts of depth but that’s it. This is why using a flash (called an
underwater strobe) is mandatory and is very difficult to do without.
4) When shooting in a studio, outdoors or in the city you
normally have time to prepare, compose your shot, check different
options and use trial and error for guidance. When diving, the
longest dive would be 45-50 min. and normally you would have a path to go by and take in to account your air and the swim back. You do not have this time and have to take shots quickly and accurately.
Also, viewing your shots and looking at histograms is a privilege
for regular photographers but is very difficult to do underwater.
To sum it up. Underwater photography is very different than regular
photography but also very easy to learn and at arms reach of every
novice or professional photographer.
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When divers or photographers who had not yet experienced with
underwater photography come to me, I usually recommend them to get a simple underwater point and shoot camera, take it snorkeling , sit and play with it a bit on the sand at 10-15 feet deep and only then
go out on a few dives with it. After this experience you will surely
know better which gear you would like to get and how to approach the world of underwater photography. Of course once you’re going one step up from your trial point and shoot camera, you can sell it very easily on ebay. There is a high demand for second hand underwater products online, almost everywhere.
Tal Mor is a diver and photographer writing for Mozaik