Beneath the surface of the world’s oceans dwells an alternative universe of fascinating and diverse aquatic life.
Indeed, one of the world’s only natural wonders which can be seen from space – The Great Barrier Reef – is itself an underwater galaxy of plant-life, sting rays, incredible fish species, sharks, reef culture, sand formations and shipwrecks.
Unfortunately, capturing this magical world is incredibly difficult: indeed, this difficulty is no doubt part of its allure and attraction, and the reason for the increased interest in diving tourism and recreational snorkeling and deel-sea diving courses.
However, the past decade has brought significant development and advances in digital underwater cameras (see for yourself by exploring the range of cameras at Currys) and underwater photography technology, meaning that it is now possible to broaden your repertoire of wildlife photography (if you’re advanced amateur/semi-professional) – or take great holiday snaps.
Fantastic compact cameras that we would recommend for underwater tourists are the Canon Powershot D10, which comes from one of the world’s most trusted brands. Light, with fantastic definition for a pocket compact, it’s a great frequent underwater holidaymaker’s choice – and it is fantastic on the beach.
Also highly recommended is the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 which is slightly more easy to use and therefore best suited to first-timers and those looking for something stress-free and good value for powerpoints and printing at home.
Whatever your motivation for getting under the sea and snapping happily, there are a few techniques and tips which will not go amiss:
1. Be a good swimmer!
This is a tip not to be sniffed at – the key to placing the focus (literally!) on your underwater subject is to maintain a steady rate of buoyancy and to control your own movement and distance. This only comes from practice, excellent breath control and a solid understanding of swimming, treading water and remaining buoyant yet still in water.
Master this, and you will be able to put more attention on the minute details regarding your subject, the direction of your shot and the balance of light.
2. Light it right
Anyone who works in film will know that lighting underwater is one of the industry’s most challenging conditions. The same applies when it comes to photography. If you are sure of your subject and its whereabouts, the best thing to do is set the lights first, then you can focus on mastering your balance and manouevres to get the best shot possible.
If you are shooting at particularly deep settings underwater then you will need to have thought-through your power sources and battery supplies as well; as well as obeying the key rule of wildlife photography: ‘do no harm’.
3. Shooting techniques
A few simple tips on top of the key bases of lighting and swimming: try to get as close as possible to your subject. The light and movement of the water can easily ruin focus and composition from a distance, especially if you cannot easily control the general lighting and colour. Also, aim to shoot from below upwards, as this is more likely to place your subject in the focus of the photo, and add a more three-dimensional perspective. Shooting from above tends to result in some extremely dry images.