Today we will focus on the very basics of underwater photography and how to start taking your camera with you in the water and take some first shots. As you already know (or maybe not) underwater photography is one of the most difficult types of the photography. Human body is made for living on the ground. When you’re in water, it seems that the gravity does not work anymore for you because you are floating on the water. Water animals developed a hydrodynamic body, gills, special eyes and some other sense organs over the evolution which enable them to live, hunt, hide and move under the water. For example fish have fins or some kind of different extremities for easily moving though the water. On the other side, we need some special equipment like fins to put on feet and scuba mask to move more easily and look underwater.
We cannot breathe underwater, because our lungs cannot absorb the oxygen from the water and out chest is not strong enough to pull and push the water in-and-out. Instead, we have two options: you can take a deep breath and dive for a short time some meters underwater or make a training for a scuba diver. With the latest option you go diving with SCUBA, which means Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The name tells us all – you have a high-pressure bottle of the squeezed air and you can breath this air for an hour of two while visiting the beauties of the underwater world. If you are planning to become more serious underwater photographer a diving training is a must! Nowadays there are many organization and diving schools over the world, but we suggest SSI or PADI. These are very famous and very good diving school which have reputation all over the world. Making training at them you get the certification that is valid everywhere. This way you can go diving to Malaysia and you will get the complete diving equipment just showing your card in the diving center. They there will definitely know that you are serious diver and there’s no risk renting you equipment.
It is not trivial to move anywhere you would like to go when underwater. Everything seems to be slowing down, like watching a slow-motion movie. Water is much more viscose than air and we feel it like it’s hard to do the fast motions. You can take your camera underwater once you feel very comfortable down there. It doesn’t make sense trying to capture anything in the sea if you are not able to control your position and movements. And this refers to both, scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s dangerous that you loose your gear or hurt yourself hitting the rocks or the ground when trying to capture the coral reef, so take this advice seriously.
Further on it depends on what type of the camera you use. For the absolute beginners we suggest buying an underwater pouch if you already own the regular digital camera or one of the underwater digital cameras you can find on this site reviewed. Like in basic daylight photography, it is much easier take a photo with point-and-shoot camera than with professional DSLR. Underwater the difficulties are at least doubling, believe me. So don’t be a fool and don’t go with the new DSLR with undrwater housing, strobes etc-etc. first time into the water. Learn slowly, buy a book about underwater photography (I bought this one and it’s absolutely amazing, great pictures with a lot of descriptions, strongly recommended), look for underwater photographers on the Internet and their galleries. There are many good resources out there, for example Underwater Photography.
Later on, if you realize that you love underwater photography, you may think about buying a Digital Single Lens Reflexive camera (DSLR). You can find many useful information on The DSLR Photographer. There are many reviews of the latest photo gear there and will help you choose the right one.
Last but not the least, remember that the most important is to go, dive and keep shooting. Absolutely the best way to capture interesting moments, discover new places and seeing rare spices of fish and other underwater animals.
Thank you very much for reading this beginner’s guide, the more are coming soon! Check out also the tutorial about the most common beginners mistakes. There are some tips that may help you improve your underwater photos. And of course don’t forget to subscribe to new tutorials and reviews of the equipment.