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Essentials Of A Good Underwater Photographer ALL RELATED BOOKS

Essentials Of A Good Underwater Photographer

Book Extract

Taking good underwater photographs is harder than it looks. The ability to stay still for long periods is important, as is heaps of patience when a subject doesn’t look the right way. Then of course when it does, you need to be ready to capture the shots that you want with the correct settings to ensure the images are in focus and properly exposed.

When snorkelling don’t forget to wear a protective vest or t-shirt. It is all too easy to get carried away with the overwhelming sensation of enjoying the reef life beneath you and end up badly sunburnt.

It is so easy to get carried away taking photographs that divers can forget basic diving skills. The following tips are very important to help keep you safe underwater. Make sure you know your dive kit inside out and always maintain a good, safe dive profile. Never lose sight of your buddy and make a note of where the boat or exit point is. Always start at the deepest part of your dive and gradually ascend. If you find a turtle during a dive, don’t follow it deeper, wait patiently and it will more than likely stay around for a while. The same applies if a subject is above you; don’t rapidly ascend to photograph it, otherwise you may give yourself a serious lung expansion injury. Keep breathing, be patient, relax and enjoy your diving. The skill of underwater photography will open up a whole new world for you which you will never want to leave.

Perfect buoyancy is paramount and you must be able to hover motionless in the water without damaging any of the reef or marine life around you. Remember to be aware of where you put your fins and also be careful when swimming along not to stir up sand behind you. Reef sticks can help you to keep steady underwater while taking shots, but always remember to double check where you put them otherwise you might end up hurting a camouflaged subject such as a stonefish on a rock or a stargazer in the sand.

Talking to local dive guides and studying your subject before a dive helps you to find out where great photographic subjects hide and if there is anything unusual to see. Chatting to other underwater photographers in the area will help you to form a plan as to where you may like to dive in order to find the particular subject that you are looking for.

Always approach your subject as slowly as possible so as not to frighten it. Breathing slowly will also help. Talking to fish and spending a lot of time with the same subject can really help it to relax and not feel threatened in its surroundings. This is when the best photo opportunities will occur.


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Underwater Photography is written by Maria Munn. Maria is deeply passionate about conservation and hopes to bring a better understanding of the marine environment through her photography. She is a highly experienced teacher, helping thousands of students across the globe to improve their skills and even win awards. 

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