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marcw

Tell me your photo tips(do not worry, I will not take better photos than you)

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While diving last year, a photographer told me a tip to try to take pictures of some critters facing the current(maybe i remember it backwards).   Can we share some of these tips?  I was looking for a book or website that had some useful tips but i could not find anything.  I am not only looking for camera tips, also fish/critter tips.  Like, best time of day to see something.  Full moon days does this. If you see this fish, look around and you will see it partner close by there symbiotic relationship. Like shrimp and sea cucumbers stay together.  

tips so far:

  • Take pictures into the current for head shots.

symbiotic relationships:

  • Sea Anemone and Clownfish
  • Sea Cucumber and Shrimp 

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  • Get close, closer than you think you need to be
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Shoot from the same level or looking a bit up toward your subject.  Avoid shooting down on your subject.
  • Go slow and take your time

Get Alex Mustard's Underwater Photography Masterclass book or Underwater Photographer by Martin Edge.

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Look for fish sitting still with all their fins up, they are probably at a cleaning station - the cleaner may be quite small and not so easy to spot.

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Here are a few.  I dive mostly Caribbean, by the way, so any critter tips are relative to there.

1. Assuming you have strobes, set camera to base ISO and try to leave it there.   This gives you maximum dynamic range for post-processing.

2. Shoot in RAW mode.   This gives you MUCH more flexibility in post-processing.

3. Get close.  If you can't get close, crop.    Compare two similar pictures and usually the one that is closer is the one people prefer.

4. Use macro / strobes to shoot small critters and isolate subjects.  Use wide angle to tell a story, and include divers in shots.

5. Practice your buoyancy skills.

6. Critter stuff - like anemones and clownfish in the Pacific, you see Pederson Cleaning shrimp around Corkscrew Anemones.  Sometimes around Florida Corallimorphs and Branching Anemones.  Corkscrew Anemones are very interesting subjects in themselves.

7. Get below fish and shoot level or pointing up a bit.   Looking down on fish tends not to be interesting.

8. If shooting an eel, time your shot so the mouth is wide open for at least some of your shots.

9. Use a faster shutter speed to avoid subject motion blur.  (Helps to avoid camera motion blur too).   When shooting strobes you may or may not be able to shoot at the fastest sync speed, but if you see a black bar across the top or bottom of the frame, you probably need to slow the shutter a bit.  If shooting strobe with no ambient, it doesn't matter to have a really fast shutter speed, but often there is some ambient light to deal with.  I found that I got a lot of blurry fish at speeds less than 1/160th.

10. If you want sharp corners, you have a big job ahead to get there.   Flat ports generally won't (can't?) have sharp corners at wider focal lengths.   Big domes can have very nice corners, but it depends a lot on the lens, extension length and dome size.   To be honest, if you want sharp corners in your image, the easiest way is to frame loosely then crop out the blurry stuff.   Myself, I have only recently got sharp corners from my 16-35vr, in spite of shooting with a 230mm/9" dome port and stopping down.  I had to add a $400 field-flattening filter from Sea and Sea.

11. Always try to get the eyes of your critter to be visible and in focus.   Some examples: http://www.cjcphoto.net/uweyes/all.html

12. If you are not overwhelmed with what you're already carrying around underwater, consider adding a 'Lembeh stick' or 'dive stick' about 18 inches long.   These are popular (and controversial) for muck diving where you basically jam the stick into the bottom and hang on with one hand while shooting to keep you and the camera more stable.  It is also useful when current carries you too close to coral - you can carefully use the stick to press against a rock and not crash into something.   Don't try that against a sponge though - you'll just spear it.   These sticks are also handy as pointers, and very handy as noisemakers by banging against your tank.  That sound carries decently.

13. Consider a tripod for macro or video work, usually something like a gorillapod.    Similarly, for advanced strobe work, consider adding a snoot.

14. One of the most important things I've learned is how to post-process an image.   I never use a JPG straight out of camera.  I don't even try to set up the camera for jpgs, if only because the white balance is rarely correct.   My Lightroom skills have translated back to how I set up the camera now, and rather than try to get a perfectly-composed, white balanced, and properly-exposed shot, I more just try to center the dynamic range (by histogram) and deal with things in post.   Sounds lazier than it is, but there are many times you have to use the setup you have or miss a shot.  Especially underexposed shots because I didn't have enough strobe power and the subject is a bit too far away.   And so I try to shoot at base ISO to give maximum dynamic range - which translates into being able to push shadows and pull highlights by a huge amount.  (I'm shooting a Nikon D850 by the way, which lets me do this sort of thing because it has incredible dynamic range at ISO 64.)   Shoot RAW, and then learn how to 'make the image look good'.  The more you learn here, the more you'll know what you can get away with underwater.

 

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Thanks EVERONE, looks good. I have a another one to add.

  • Clean your lenses(should be a no brainer ).

 

 

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