Today, underwater photography, to be honest, is much more simple then you might imagine. I not claim for myself to be in the elite of the world. But i want to show you some easy tricks to improve your pictures. I still use my old Canon G12 and 2015 i bought a Canon G7X. Both are compact cameras. I use them in Canon plastic housings together with an INON D-2000 external flash. The equipment is not really expensive but i even won some competitions with my cams. Don’t believe you need to spend a lot of money for DSLR Cameras to make good pictures.
–Deep position of the camera. For a macro pic, normally, it is important is to hold the camera very deep to get a nice perspective of the object. The wrong angle is the most common mistake in macrophotography. For this hairy froggy, i press my camera in the black sand of Lembeh to get as deep as possible.
–Lights and shadows. For the light i put my INON D-2000 external flash on the highest possible position to give the froggy light from above. The shadows which appear from the flash bring some tension in the picture. Take your time and try different power-levels on the external flash. As a rule you can say, if you set your external flash more far from your camera you will have less unwished particles in your picture which reflect the flash. A big advantage of an external flash of course. But even, if you don’t have an external flash, good pictures are possible with only an internal flash. Also here, experiment the different power levels!
The crocodile fish was taken with an internal flash on medium strength, no external flash.
-Don’t move to much to avoid agitate to much sand which disturbs the picture. Move slow and clever. Every wrong fin kick could cost you some minutes under water as you have to wait until the sand disappear. Of course you can delete everything later on photoshop. But that is not really fun. Anticipate what the fish will do next, where he goes, bring yourself in a good position.
-Do not use automatic mode or underwater mode!! With automatic mode, you will never be able to make high quality pics underwater. Automatic mode is good for a birthday party but not for a coral reef. To special is the light situation underwater. Many compact cameras have an underwater mode, marked by a fish symbol in the settings. In my experience the results are ok, but not satisfying. I always use the manual mode underwater. In manual mode you determine the light and sharpness of a picture. You have to set three things. ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
ISO is the sensitivity of how your camera catches the light for the picture. If you set the ISO to high, your pictures have to much noise inside. Try ISO levels from 100 til 400 and not go higher. The quality suffers otherwise.
The field of depth is influenced by the aperture. The aperture is shown by the f-number. It is a little bit confusing to understand. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, while a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. A small aperture leads to a high field of depth but less light. A large aperture leads to a lower field of depth with more light. For the hairy froggy and for other macro objects, you want to set the focus on the fish and not on the surrounding area. So i can use a high aperture with a low f-number. The background will be blurred the object will be sharp. A nice effect.
Blurred background, sharp motive. Play with the aperture
Short exposure for macro motives. With a fast shutter speed motion blur can be avoided. As a result the background appears dark. This is a desired effect for macro images.
This coconut octopus was taken during a day dive with a very short shutter speed. Very dark background is the result.
-Take your time with the object. The best you can do is dive together with a private guide or one partner who understand your target. Photography in groups make less sense. You spend a lot of money get to the other side of the world. And then you have to rush because you dive with to many people.
-Hold the camera in two hands. You get blurry pictures if you hold the camera casually in one hand. It is important to fix the case calmly and stabilizing always with both hands.
-Dont destroy marine life! In Lembeh macro pictures have mostly no „big“ influence on marine life. Of course you lay in the sand, of course you use a flash which irritates the animal. But you not destroy corals at least. In a coral reef the situation can be completely different. If the animal is in a difficult position surrounded by corals, think twice if you want to take the shot. Please don’t break corals or destroy marine life for taking nice pictures.