I’ve been doing underwater photography for over 10 years, and the more I do it, the more I love it. I use a compact camera: It is light, it offers wonderful results, and it is highly versatile. With the appropriate wet lenses, you can use a compact camera to take a photo of a little nudibranch and a manta ray on the same dive.
During the past 10 years, I have competed in photo contests and given many courses for aspiring underwater photographers, and I’ve picked up some good hints for people who are starting in this field.
First, you must have good buoyancy control. This is important for any diver, but for underwater photographers, it is essential. You want to avoid damaging or alarming the marine life, but moreover, the less you stir the area you want to photograph, the less backscatter will appear in your photo.
Get close to the subject. The closer you are, the better the color, sharpness and contrast will be. If you are using an external ﬂash, getting your light close to the subject will shorten the light return distance and reduce the loss of color at depth.
If you are taking photos with an external flash and a wide-angle lens, keep the strobes moved away from the camera and out to the side to avoid backscatter. Placing diffusers on the ﬂash also helps get better results by reducing backscatter, even though this reduces the power of the ﬂash.
If you don’t have external ﬂashes, you can certainly take nice photos with natural light. Take your pictures in shallow water and play with the white balance of your camera or underwater mode until you find the tone you’re looking for.
It is true that without using gadgets, it is difficult to take pictures of certain animals and seascapes, even in good conditions. Fisheye lenses, macro lenses and flashes are a nearly essential combination of tools for versatile underwater photographers.
Over my years of taking underwater photos, I’ve become very aware of these needs. I started producing some gadgets for myself, and two years ago, I started a business, EasyFit Dive, for underwater camera accessories. We offer standard and tailor-made products for underwater cameras and housings: arms, viewfinder adapters, holders for different lenses, flip holders, etc.
One of our most popular products is an adapter for changing wet lenses, which makes it easier and quicker to change the lenses underwater. Simply pressing a red button releases a lens without having to screw it on or off a threaded front port.
With this same lens adapter, you can use lens holders on the arms of your camera, providing a practical place to store the lenses you’re not using while keeping them on hand for when you need them.
You can take excellent pictures with a compact camera. A few tools will greatly improve your ability to produce quality pictures, but as in all photography, the real key is practice and more practice to develop your “eye” and sense of composition.
If you want any advice or further information or would like to look at add-ons for your camera, visit easyfitdive.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see more of my photos at flickr.com/photos/ardijump.