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I have become very interested in underwater photography after seeing amazingly inspiring photos such as these

 

http://bit.ly/20EO0T5

http://bit.ly/1PPRFFH

http://bit.ly/1Pe8MBs

http://bit.ly/1KUYPqS

http://dailym.ai/1Pe9oHi

 

But I also feel like I've all odds against me. I am very afraid of the open sea, I'm a thalassophobe (though I wouldnt mind encountering a dolphin or a a killer whale, but everything else just freaks me out!), I haven't got any professional underwater gear (I own a go pro and a simple Ricoh waterproof camera), I've never ever tried scuba diving or even snorkeling (even though this is on my bucket list!) & I live in the arctic so I have to spend an enormous sum just to travel to a location to be able to do a photoshoot.

 

Contrary to this, I've made up my mind and I really want to try an underwater photoshoot. I've tried to save money so I can travel to a tropic destination where the conditions for underwater photography are better than poor (haha) and I've tried to study, read, and learn.

 

Do you think there's any possibility for me to achieve somewhat okay photos? Or do I need very expensive and professional gear to achieve images as shown in the sample above? Don't be afraid to totally crush my vision, :notworthy: honest opinions are appreciated!

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Best advice: learn to dive first, gets some experience, especially get control of your buoyancy so you do not have to think about it, and then and only then take a camera underwater. This is for your safety and for the protection of the environment. It is a great hobby, but you need to get comfortable in the water before starting underwater photography.

Edited by tursiops
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Thanks for the tips! Is it difficult to learn how to snorkel and dive respectively? I'm struggling with getting control of my buoyancy, it's hard to stay underwater as I'm floating up so I only manage to get very few shots at a time.

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It's not difficult to learn how to dive or snorkel. You just have to find a good instructor and then keep doing it so that you gain experience.

 

If you are close to any diving area it would be better to learn how to dive there. The Caribbean may be awesome but if you can only got there once a year but you can dive every weekend after a short drive then it's better to learn how to dive there, you'll have more fun and be more experienced.

 

With that said, some people only dive a few times a year when they're on vacation and they're happy with it. That's the good thing about diving, you can do with it whatever you want.

Edited by Fofo

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I'm sorry to have to be so blunt, but you can't take good UW photos in the scenario you've described. You MUSt be able to stay stable underwater, or you can't focus and compose. You also need equipment including artificial light. Your search for a destination in the other thread is premature, unless you just want a vacation. This is a really rewarding pursuit, but it takes specialized skills and practice. It's worth it!

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I agree. It takes a lot of practice to take photos like the ones you posted. Usually with a significant amount of money invested in photo gear.

 

And usually people who get into this kind of photography already have lots of experience diving.

 

Not that it can't be done on a budget and after only a few dives, but usually the results are not as good as these.

 

And I really don't want to scare you away! Please do go after your dream! If you learn how to scuba dive or free dive you'll be able to be underwater for taking the shots that you want, instead of them being "helicopter shots" from above.

 

It's lots of fun! Go for it.

 

Your first breaths underwater are amazing. The first time you can control your buoyancy the way you want it is amazing. The first shot that comes out decent is amazing.

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Thanks for your replies! I live in the arctic, there is no place here to dive, so I can only do it whilst I'm on holidays. I've never done it before because I am terrified of all creatures living in the ocean, literally terrified! I am trying to overcome this fear. I thought I could use my interest in photography as a motive power to overcome this ridiculous and illogical fear so lets see how that goes.

troporobo - Don't excuse your bluntness. I do not expect to achieve those results, they were merely a reference so that you can get a rough idea of what type of UWP I'm interested in. Elena Kalis stays quite close to the surface when she is photographing, so she needs no strobes or artificial light. She also says that you shouldn't let equipment stop you from experimenting and trying out new ideas. =) If I am going abroad, I thought, I might as well go somewhere where I can practice underwater photography. And as to my other thread, yes I do want vacation, but I want to do photography whilst I'm away, rather than attaining a sunburn at the beach or chilling at a resort. When I post my questions in "regular travel forums" people don't quite grasp my inquiry, so they give me tips of crowded tourist beaches. That's why I asked here :)
Elena Kalis shoots with a Canon 5D Mark II (~ 650USD) and a 50mm Canon lens (350 USD) as far as I can remember. I need an underwater housing, or I need an underwater camera.

Fofo - Free diving seems to be amazing! I've seen people free dive with killler whales, I almost died of happiness :D Sucks to be living here where the water is freezing. Doesn't exactly give me loads of opportunities to practise being in the water.

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Thanks for your replies! I live in the arctic, there is no place here to dive, so I can only do it whilst I'm on holidays. I've never done it before because I am terrified of all creatures living in the ocean, literally terrified! I am trying to overcome this fear. I thought I could use my interest in photography as a motive power to overcome this ridiculous and illogical fear so lets see how that goes.

 

 

I live in Alaska and have gone snorkeling above the Arctic circle (during the summer!!!!). I was wearing a drysuit. It is much easier to learn techniques while visiting the tropics and then applying them with extra gear such as drysuits.

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Also, don't forget that you can learn and practice your breathing and buoyancy techniques in a pool. That's a good way to get more comfortable in the water before your trip, and will let you experiment with your photo equipment as well.

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Sounds like you're motivated, which is great. The pool suggestion is excellent - get a friend who can swim well below the surface, go practice, and see what its like.

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Sounds like you're motivated, which is great. The pool suggestion is excellent - get a friend who can swim well below the surface, go practice, and see what its like.

I always am :) I was competing in swimming when I was little but it's the ocean I'm afraid of haha. I had an incident with a sea creature once and since then I developed a phobia. Swimming is not the problem, it's where I swim that freaks me out :pardon: It's hard to explain.

 

Do you have any tips for me when I practise in a pool?

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To take pics of models, you're going to have to be able to stay put, not be in motion. You wait for them to pose, not the other way round. So practice being able to exhale, sink, and hold for a couple of minutes.

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I always am :) I was competing in swimming when I was little but it's the ocean I'm afraid of haha. I had an incident with a sea creature once and since then I developed a phobia. Swimming is not the problem, it's where I swim that freaks me out :pardon: It's hard to explain.

 

Do you have any tips for me when I practise in a pool?

 

Maybe try to find a diving club in your city, I am pretty sure they exist. They probably train in a pool weekly, will have excellent instructors and teach you everything you need before you can go for the "next level" which is taking pictures. Also, most likely they will do regular trips to lakes or shore dives. Guessing you live in Scandinavia, there are so many places to dive there.

 

Do not underestimate the beauty, it is different but just as good. And you will get used to the cold water. I personally still dive in a wetsuit in water well below 10 degrees Celsius, and I've done that since the beginning with no issue (and my wife too, so it has nothing to do with testosterone :) ). Evidently, it is not the same as in 30 degrees water.

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Our diving shop has it's own pool and open it weekly for people who want to come in and try out scuba diving. I'm sure even where you are there must be similar shops as some sort of pool is normally needed for scuba diving courses.

 

In terms of getting over your phobia, check out Cathy Church's Ted Talk on You CAN scuba dive in spite of your fears. Cathy runs a photography studio in Sunset House south of Geroge Town on Grand Cayman.

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Overcoming your fears takes time and you will eventually conquer it. I helped my husband conquer his fear of the ocean by taking him to aquariums with "touch and interaction pools" frequently. Then as he became more and more comfortable, we tried places where he's in the water (ankle deep to start, then deeper with confidence); feeding stingrays. He didn't touch them while on the beach, just allowed them to brush up against him; eventually he touched the rays with time. Out in the open waters, you're not suppose to touch anything living; coral, fish, marine mammals, etc.

 

Two years ago I re-certifed myself in scuba (after a 15 year hiatus) when our two teenagers expressed an interest in learning how to scuba. After hearing how much our kids had so much fun diving in Turks & Caicos; seeing sharks, turtles, and rays without fear. *Keep in mind the majority of sea creatures would rather leave you alone, or avoid you altogether, than attack.* This past summer, my husband took the plunge. He actually completed a PADI scuba course in Punta Cana! He stuck close to the dive master, and that's completely fine.

 

My advice for you is to master your diving skills and gain confidence, plus visit aquariums with interactive pools so you can experience the wonders of the sea in a controlled environment. Start off with touching starfishes, small lobsters, crabs, scallops, or urchins for example. Then move onto bigger marine creatures like rays, skates, seals, or dolphins; again in marine parks or aquariums. "Allow them to be part of your world, before you go into theirs."

Edited by LensTravels
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I admire your determination to try this. Here's my 2 cents. First, you need to be able to dive reasonably well in order to get reasonably well-done photos. Essentially this amounts to the ability to hold a camera still underwater, in the face of currents and surges. You must have excellent buoyancy control. I think you need to start by learning to dive at least a little bit before adding a camera. You need to achieve some level of comfort before adding in more stuff to think about and more stuff to get in your way (or lose).

 

That said, I don't think you have to achieve excellent buoyancy before you start taking pics, only that you won't get many keepers until you do. Personally that meant about 10 dives for me. One thing about holding a camera underwater - it will motivate you to pay close attention to your buoyancy control, and as such can help you improve it. But you might also end up doing things like my wife, where she wasn't aware she was drifting down while photographing a lionfish and ended up ripping her eardrum. (She has a weak ear to start with, from repeated rips).

 

Cameras add to what can become an overwhelming amount of equipment for beginners, and they only make worse the effect of equipment problems. That's where you need to be comfortable diving before adding a camera. Drifting up? (Or down). Need to add or remove air 'right not' and don't quite remember what buttons to push and where they are? Not a good time to add a camera.

 

As far as the camera itself goes, the news is actually pretty good for you. As long as you can get by without external flash, you can do very well indeed with a camera outlay of less than $500 new. I'm talking about a (new) Canon Point-n-shoot with matching Canon dive housing. I'm on Canon #5 at this point (s120 is the latest), and they've all been decent to good with the newer ones always better than the previous ones. The housings are good. Get yourself camera, housing and an extra battery or two and you're good to go. Do NOT dive with a camera without attaching it to you somehow, or sooner or later it will drift away. For a point-n-shoot, get a wrist strap and put it on your right wrist soon after you enter the water. For a larger camera or one with external flash, have a lanyard that clips to your BCD.

 

Almost all the great dive pics I see are taken with external flash. However, having an external flash completely changes your diving experience as you can no longer just let go of the camera (dangle from wrist strap), or basically ignore it when not taking pics. You'll want to not use one until you are quite comfortable diving. They also have a tendency to get snagged in hoses and the like - not for beginners.

 

As for fearing underwater creatures, I can't really help you there. I have little fear there myself, so have no advice for overcoming it. Perhaps as others suggest a visit to aquariums might be useful. I have extremely rarely had any underwater creature attempt to touch me in any way. They are generally at least a bit shy (will swim away if you try to get close) or very shy (will avoid you as much as they can). You don't want to touch anything anyway, mostly because there is a lot of stuff underwater that can sting, certainly including fire coral.

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