Taking photographs underwater might sound like quite a task, but in truth it’s not really that hard and just about anybody can do it. Of course, if you’re afraid of the water or are a non-swimmer you may want to think twice about it or make sure there’s somebody there with you.
All it takes to capture some pretty good underwater shots these days is a regular digital camera that’s protected by a waterproof housing. You can also use an inexpensive disposable model that’s designed for use in and under the water.
If you’re looking for top-quality images you may want to try the digital camera instead of the disposable. However, don’t be discouraged with a disposable as they’re still quite effective. If you’re using your regular camera though, you’ll need to make sure you protect it by purchasing a good-quality housing unit to protect it from the water.
When heading underwater to get some excellent shots, you should try to get as close to your subject as you possibly can. Think of an underwater version of macro photography. If the water isn’t clear it won’t affect the image as much if you’re close up. It also makes things easier when it comes to lighting. If you’re further away from the subject the colors will often be washed out due to the water, no matter how crystal-clear it appears to be.
It’s possible to use a flash while trying out underwater photography, but it’s usually better if you don’t use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. A flash may be able to restore colors that have been washed out, but artificial lighting is difficult to get correct under the water. One of the reasons is because there are usually tiny particles floating around in the water and the flash will illuminate them and bounce the light off these particles.
However, if you do need to use a flash because it’s simply too dark without one, make sure you are wary of your angles. If the flash comes from above or from one side of the camera, it means the reflected light will bounce away from the lens or coming back to it.
An external strobe may be a better choice. You could try using a pair of them, one on each side of your camera. You can them aim them so the edges of the light just hit your subject instead of focusing the light on it. This type of lighting is also good for bringing out different textures and is effective when shooting corals.
You can try experimenting with shots and shadow effects by extending a flash as far as possible to one side of the camera or have a friend hold onto your source of light about a yard away.
When heading underwater, make sure you have everything you need, such as enough storage and a fully charged battery. You don’t want to have to head back to dry land to change batteries or cards. If you have everything you need, just treat underwater photography like all other types. This means have fun and feel free to experiment and be creative.