A relatively specialized domain that only a few are skilled at, underwater photography is not a piece of cake. Looking at the beautiful pictures that have been taken underwater, one can only imagine the sheer dexterity of the photographer who has captured the vivid shots under various constraints.
Underwater photography is much more difficult than taking a shot on land, indoors, or outdoors. A photographer has to negotiate several constraints while taking a picture. The position of the subject, the position of the camera, the light setting, getting the correct focus, and accurate exposure are all the variables that need to be tuned when taking a picture anywhere with any kind of camera. Now imagine having to deal with all that underwater photography.
The Wet World of Underwater Photography
Underwater photography requires a specialized camera and equipment. If you’re a novice who is simply interested in trying to take a few pictures underwater to see how it works out, you may seal your normal digital or film camera in special waterproof casings or covers and click away in the water. But if you are training to be a pro, an underwater or waterproof camera is your best bet for underwater photography.
It is important to know some basic facts about underwater photography before you even begin to point and shoot.
- If you do not use a flash underwater your shots will look blue as water tends to absorb the red and orange shades while retaining its bluish tinge. This will become more of a problem as you go deeper (due to lesser light as you go deeper). As a pro, you would want to buy an external flash/strobe to make your shots look stunning. However, using as much natural light as possible is key to underwater photography.
- While shooting underwater the contrast, color and sharpness of your image is greatly compromised. The workaround to this is to be as close as possible to your subject, ideally within a meter of the camera.
- Underwater photography, especially in the sea will obviously require you to be scuba diving or at least snorkeling. You’ll need to wear an outfit that allows you to easily carry your camera and equipment while making your mobility underwater as effortless as possible. As mentioned earlier, this is no cake walk.
- If your subjects are sea creatures and marine life, you’ll need to be extra careful to remain as calm as possible so that you don’t scare them away with your presence and the flashlights. You will need to become a skilled diver and acclimate to the conditions underwater before you start shooting pictures.
As you begin your first shooting trips, you might be overwhelmed by the number of challenges you face. You need to get a lot of things right to get the perfect picture and many times you might think you got amazing shots but realize their flaws during processing. Photoshop is a great tool to remove certain flaws.
Underwater photography even by professionals, involves quite a bit of post-processing fixes to enhance or correct the shots. You’ll need to study your photographs and learn from your own mistakes as you progress in your craft. There are numerous online resources and photography magazines that can give you some very good tips about underwater photography.
Underwater photography remains a niche art that is also difficult to master. If you’re aspiring to be a professional underwater photographer and feeling discouraged by the early challenges, it is best to follow another pro as he/she goes about the job. It will help you learn the ropes of the craft in a relatively inexpensive way and you’ll also find the confidence to venture out on your own.
Compared to traditional photography, underwater photography has its unique set of challenges which when overcome make your pictures look almost magical and breathtaking, giving you the ultimate satisfaction.