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Critique of (mostly close-up) photos wanted.

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I am pretty fresh to this forum, and to underwater photography, so I decided to post some of my recent photos wanting critisism of them.


First of all, I dive in Norway in cold green water, so please forgive me if my photos don't show stunning vis in the 20-30 meters range etc. That said, anything on how to make my photos look that way is very welcome.


I shoot a Canon PowerShot A620 with Canon's underwater housing, a Nikonos SB 101 flash with auto light-metering and use a cheap dive-light as a focus light. I usually shoot in manual mode with manual focus and custom white balance.




First photograph is of three nudibranches on a branch of seaweed. How do I make this look more interesting?

1/125 shutter, F8.0, ISO 100. Manual focus @ 15 cm.



Second photograph is of a crab resting in a trench in the sand. I was going for an artistic composition here: How do you think it works?

1/125 shutter, F8.0, ISO 100. Manual focus @ 30 cm.



Third photograph is of a hermit crab, macro (beyond 1:1). Any thoughts on how this could look less "square on" or "documentary"?

1/125 shutter, F8.0, ISO 100. Manual focus @ 10 cm.





Any comments at all about what could or should be done differently is most welcome. I am especially interested in tips on how to compose shots better, how to achieve good lighting and color and how to avoid backscatter.


Thank you,


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-get low (at or below eye level of your subject)

-get close (less water between the lens and your subject = more color and detail)

-get closer (most people think they're close enough. But, they are not.)

-shoot up (separate your subject from the background)


-find good negative space THEN look for subjects

-fill the frame with your subject

-eyes/head of subject has to be in sharp focus

-avoid bullseye composition (no subject dead center in the frame)

-crop in your view finder, not at the light table/computer


Comments on your three shots:

#1 (the kelp with nudibranchs)

-subjects way too small (try to fill the frame with one of the nudibranchs)


#2 (crab)

-good shot

-could get closer (cropping out some of the negative space)

-looks like you used a diffuser on your strobe (good)


#3 (hermit crab)

-fill the frame with the hermit crab

-separate the subject from the background (see if you can find a hermit up on a little knob of rock; a black background is better than one your subject blends into)


Take Care,


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Chris just laid out a whole bunch of great advice.


It's all the basics, but the basics work for a start. Once you have in your mind to think about the basics you can then work away from them.


Shoot as upward as possible.

Get as close as possible

Fill the frame as much as you can, and have the subject off center if possible.

Rule of thirds makes an image look good, but not always necessary.


Oh specifically as these are close ups .. get as close as possible to make the subject the main object in the frame .. and also try and find and angle that is interesting. For example it would be nice to see the crabs eyes.

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Thanks a lot, both of you! As Giles said, a lot of good advice here. I will definitely be trying to keep these things in mind the next time I go out diving.


I will try and post a follow-up or something as soon as I get back in the water, which may not be very soon as I have some exams coming up.


Regarding the general advice from Chris:


By finding good negative space and THEN looking for subjects, do you mean I should find an area where I will be able to frame the subject against a nice background (i.e. black background) and then find a subject that will fit against the background? Is this a good technique in general, or is it more of an advice for environments where subjects are easy to come by?


I do agree with what you said on the composition though, especially the nudibranches. I regret now that I didn't get closer. But they're not that rare to come by here, so I'll be prepared next time :)


Again, thanks a lot.



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