July is soon to be a memory. Before Summer steps out the back door and makes room for Autumn, don’t let the opportunity to capture beautiful underwater shots slip through the busy days of sun. Here are a few basic tips to getting the most out of capturing your underwater memories. These rules can be applied to underwater point and shoot cameras, iPhones clad in Lifeproof cases (like the ones from Kimmy Oi above) or DSLR shooters with serious equipment. The basics almost always apply.
1) Shoot in clear water– Nothing is worse than flipping through murky pictures vignetted by brown sludge. Clear water makes for clear pictures. Light being able to shine through the water and into your exposures will boost the color and clarity of your shots.
2) Get contrast– This will make your picture look better. A very monotonous bleak color tone lacks the dynamic punch that great pictures have. Shooting underwater blurs colors by the very nature of shooting through water. In order to correct this as much as possible, think contrast!
3) Get up-close and personal with your subject– Clear water would be step one to achieving clear pictures, the second step would be to get close. You don’t want to shoot through too much water because the more distance between you and what you’re shooting means the greater the blur from the water. If your subject is a tiny sea star, invade its space! Shoot for sharpness.
4) Make sure your subject is clearly stated– Try not to clutter your shots. Your viewer wants to know what they’re looking at. Photo bombs with random objects in the background or on the sides of your shots create clutter. No one likes a messy room.. or picture.
5) Use your flash– I normally advocate against using a flash when snapping most photos. However in this case, the more light, the better! It’s really hard (if not impossible) for light to reflect off of the ocean floor then bounce back up to hit your subject and light it from the bottom. In swimming pools, the sun reaches and reflects off of more surfaces. Test out some shots with and without the flash, but don’t forget that underwater photography normally calls for aided lighting.
6) Shoot upward– The light source coming from the sky (the sun) will create a really beautiful light around your subject adding to the contrast that you’re already seeking. Those heavenly light rays that we all love to capture might even make an appearance in these shots. Also, the ambient light from above will boost the overall look and clarity of your shot. Using your flash as a fill light will then make your subject pop.
Have fun, play.. and remember, there isn’t much you can’t fix anyway in post!