We all dive for many different reasons. Some people just to enjoy the peace and quiet and wallow in the colour of the reef. Others are fascinated by the different creatures and their activities. Some love the history and exploration of shipwrecks and some like to capture all of these things with their cameras. Underwater photography is not just a diving challenge but also a creative challenge and one that can become very addictive, very quickly.
I bought my first underwater camera when I came to Koh Tao to do my Dive Master and Instructor Course around seven years ago and very quickly became an addict. I progressed onto another Olympus and then moved up to the camera I have today which is a Nikon D200 in a Subal Housing. My smaller toy is a Panasonic Lumix which also takes great video too. In fact we filmed our last pop video re-make using it.
The most crucial skill for any would-be photographer underwater is buoyancy. You must be able to hold still. If you cant hold still and hover neutrally buoyant then you cant expect to get focused images. Further you run the risk of damaging the reef or yourself. Remember there is no photograph that’s worth taking that will cause harm. Luckily help is at hand – you can take some extra training in buoyancy control. This will not only improve your images but also your control and air consumption too.
The biggest mistake most divers make when taking out a camera for the first time, is not getting close enough to their subject – again this goes hand with buoyancy skills. BUT YOU NEED TO GET CLOSE – SAFELY! Fill the frame with your subject and do not use the zoom function. We ban the use of zoom on our photo courses. Get close and you get not only a better, more interesting image but you reduce the water in between the subject and the lens and also ensure that your flash is close enough to light up the subject.Getting to know your camera and how it functions is essential too – read the manual – yes I know – I know – but do it! Play with it and the different settings on land first …. and then find a sandy un-sensitive area underwater and sit facing your buddy and take some images! Try out the different settings and see what they do ……If this is not possible look for a centre that offers a private guide service (we do) or find somewhere with specially tailored photo courses that are designed to suit your goals, camera and experience….
And finally – remember its supposed to be fun ! Dive and look for subjects, keep yourself safe and enjoy! Remember most experienced photographers only ever come back with a few ‘keepers’ and the front cover of your dive mag – probably took many dives to capture! If you want to know more, get intouch !
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