Shooting with a Dive Model

Brent Durand
Tips on how to Shoot Photos with a Dive Model or Dive Buddy in the Scene

 

Shooting with a Dive Model


Tips on how to Shoot Photos with a Dive Model or Dive Buddy in Scene

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

 

 
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Shooting photos of your dive buddy is a fun way to include them in your dive photo world because let's face it; if you're holding a camera you're probably not paying as much attention to them as you should.

Not only does shooting your dive buddy allow you to give them great shots in-action underwater, but it repays them for all those hours spent watching you motionless on the bottom waiting to take that single macro behavior frame.

Simple, right? Well there's a bit more to consider for these shots. Adding a dive model to the background of your shots will help create depth by adding another point of interest into the scene. So by modeling, your dive buddy is also helping you to create a more dynamic composition.

So how do we shoot dive model photos?

 

My dive buddy passes by vibrant soft coral. Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

 

GEAR (used in all photos in this article):

Canon 5D Mark III    |    Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens

Aquatica A5D Mk III housing

 

 

Tips for Shooting Dive Model Photos

 

1)  Talk Before the Dive

It's essential to have an agreed-upon plan with your dive buddy before the dive begins. This is fairly easy if you're familiar with the dive site and what to expect, but if you're on a trip to a new dive destination, make sure to ask your dive guide for advice. Your guide will be able to tell you if the site is a wall dive, features small hard corals, huge sea fans and barrel sponges, schools of fish or passing sharks.

Once you have an idea of the type of shot you would like, discuss this with your dive buddy. Let them know what you're looking for so that if they see you evaluating a wide-angle scene or starting to compose a shot, they will stay close by, ready to model.

 

My dive buddy pauses to admire a candy crab on soft coral. Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea.

 

 

2)  Establish and Use Hand Signals

Now that your dive buddy is ready to model for you underwater, you'll need to help them get into position for the photo. Hand signals that you can easily perform with a single hand are best for this, since you'll be holding your camera rig with the other hand.

Hand signals should be discussed prior to the dive as well. You'll want to make sure your dive buddy will know to move up, move down, come closer, back up, pivot right and pivot left. Be careful though, because making a fist with your thumb pointed up is the universal signal for "let's surface", so you do not want to use that gesture for directing your buddy.

You hand signals can also cover things like "look at the subject" and "keep your legs straight and together" which are common for dive model photos.

Once you both have a hand signal language in place, you'll be setting up perfect dive model photos quickly every time!

 

My dive buddy forms a silhouette above this vibrantly colored reef. Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

 

 

3)  Hold A Light

Want to enhance your dive buddy shots? By asking them to hold a dive light, you'll add another interesting element to your composition.

The best lights for dive model photography are not standard focus and video lights. You'll want a standard spot beam light for your model, as that will pierce the water with a stronger beam. Since the beam angle is narrower than focus or video lights, it will result in less backscatter in the photo when pointed towards your camera.

 

My dive buddy uses a flashlight to bring out the incredible colors of big fans and corals. Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

 

Bonus Tip!

Be realistic. Even with a detailed photo plan and hand signals discussed before the dive, there may be other elements at play that won't allow your dive buddy to be in the perfect position. Maybe there's a current and they have to keep swimming to stay in place. Maybe you're shooting with a moving subject and your buddy just can't get into position in time. Maybe their mask has gotten a bit foggy at the edges. We can't control these things, but a good photographer sees these conditions and then uses them in their photo instead of trying to fight them or become upset with their buddy.

Keep a nice, fun attitude because after all, you're underwater scuba diving!

 

When you find a giant frogfish perched high on a sponge, tell your dive buddy.  Bali, Indonesia.

 

A quiet moment along one of Bunaken's massive walls.  Bunaken Marine Park, Indonesia.

 

My dive buddy demonstrates keeping your hands trim for photos.  Bali, Indonesia.

 

Studying and anticipating marine life behavior has its rewards.  Bunaken, Indonesia.

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. Follow Brent on Instagram, Twitter and his Adventure Blog through www.brentdimagery.com.

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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Shooting Stills with the Panasonic GH4

Xander Water
The GH4 is known for 4K Video, but Let's Look at its Still Photo Capabilities

 

Shooting Stills with the Panasonic GH4


The GH4 is known for 4K Video, but Let's Look at its Still Photo Capabilities

Text and Photos By Xander Water

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater photo

Pink "tiger snout" Seahorse, shot with GH4 & 2x strobes while snorkeling in Western Australia.

 

 
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The Panasonic GH4 is mostly known for being the first affordable camera that can shoot 4K (Ultra HD) video. Many people are discussing the video capabilities, and the photographic side of the camera is easily overlooked. In this report I am going to focus on using this camera for stills underwater.

If you haven't yet, you can view some GH4 4K underwater video footage and learn the best settings for underwater use on the Bluewater Photo blog.

 

Panasonic GH4 Specs

  •             16.05 MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
  •             DCI 4K 4096x2160 at 24p
  •             UHD 4K 3840x2160 at 30p/24p
  •             Full HD up to 60p
  •             3.0" 1,036k-Dot OLED Touchscreen Monitor
  •             2,359K-Dot OLED Live View Finder
  •             Support for 59.94p, 23.98p, 50p, & 24p
  •             4:2:2 8-Bit or 10-Bit HDMI Output
  •             High-Speed 49-Point Autofocus
  •             Magnesium Alloy, Weather-Sealed Body

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

The Olympus 60mm lens with open aperture provides nice soft backgrounds.

60mm macro lens, 1/250, F3.2, ISO100, slight crop

 

When I first had a play with the camera I was really enjoying how the camera feels in my hand. The make quality is very solid, and the buttons feel good and are laid out well. The menu is easy to navigate. I have never been convinced by the need of touch screens on cameras, but I am finding it often useful when using the camera on land. For example: tapping the screen to pinpoint focus is super quick, and saves some menu navigation for example. Although I do not use any ‘intelligent auto’ functions, I was surprised that when my girlfriend was photographing her food, the camera automatically selected the ‘food mode’. That is pretty intelligent!

I come from a compact camera background, and after using the Canon G9, Canon S95 and RX100 I wanted to upgrade to an interchangeable lens system. Although I was giving up the small size, light weight of a compact setup and versatility with wet-lenses, I am thoroughly enjoying the benefits the GH4 offers. This camera feels like a state of the art piece of equipment: the focus is fast and accurate, the camera works smoothly and he functions are precise. The viewfinder is very bright and clear. The size and weight feels like it is only about half of my Nikon D7000 dSLR.

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

An often shy Leafy Filefish (aka Prickly Leather Jacket) looking into my 3.5" mini dome.

8mm Fisheye, 1/250, F10, ISO200, slight crop

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Housing

To take this camera underwater I bought the Nauticam GH4 housing with vacuum system. The Nauticam housing is a dream to use and the added vacuum system offers great peace of mind. Strobewise I am using 2 INON S2000’s on small size UltraLight arms. Underwater the setup is slightly negatively buoyant, but it does not need float arms in my opinion. I removed one handle of of the housing, mounting one of my strobe arms to the M5 mounting point on the housing. I do not use the left hand handle and this way I can position the camera lower to the sea bed when taking portrait style photos. This often makes just the difference in getting a better perspective or background. Also, my setup weighs a little bit less and is smaller. I can just fit my whole setup in a 8 litre air tight food storage container.

 

GH4 Wide-Angle Photography

For wide-angle underwater I choose the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye with 4.33” and 3.5” Nauticam ports. I love to shoot Close-Focus Wide-Angle, and this lens is perfect for that with its close focus distance. 

The lens is very sharp, including the corners, and both ports provide excellent image quality. The benefit of the larger 4.33” dome port is the corner sharpness. The smaller 3.5” mini dome port is less good for general wide-angle shooting, but the small size lets you get that little bit closer to a CFWA subject for a dramatic perspective.

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Weed beds and sea grass meadows on Garden Island.

8mm Fisheye with 4.33" dome, 1/125, F6.3, ISO100

 

GH4 Macro Photography

The Olympus 60mm lens and Nauticam 65 port is my choice for macro. Results are sharp and there is no chromatic aberration. 

 

About the Photos

All photos in this article were shot with the GH4 in full manual mode with 2x strobes on manual. All photos taken on snorkel in max 2 meters of water in the Swan River Estuary and Garden Island in Western Australia.

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Natural light in .5 meter of water, natually "snooted" by exactly one little ray of sunlight coming through a jetty.

60mm Macro lens, 1/100, F2.8, ISO250

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Floating sargassum weed at Garden Island.

8mm Fisheye lens with 4.33" dome, 1/250, F10, ISO160

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Sea horse swimming under a boat house.

60mm Macro lens, 1/250, F5, ISO400

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Tiger snout seahorse under a jetty in 1 meter of water.

60mm Macro lens, 1/250, F2.8, ISO200

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Photo

Panasonic GH4 with Nauticam housing and flat macro port for Olympus 60mm macro.

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Xander (1983) is an underwater photographer living and working in Perth, Western Australia. Aside from diving trips, most of his photos are taken around where he lives, in the indian ocean and Swan Estuary system.

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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Underwater Settings for the Canon 5D Mark III

Brent Durand
Settings for shooting wide-angle and macro with the Canon 5D Mark III camera, plus recommended lenses & more

 

Underwater Settings for the Canon 5D Mark III


Settings for Shooting Wide-Angle and Macro with the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 settings

 

 
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The Canon 5D Mark III is about two and half years old now. Some of us waited a long time for the camera before pre-ordering it, while some may have just picked it up as a first underwater camera. Either way, it's one of the best full frame prosumer DSLRs on the market.

The Canon 5D Mark III blends the beautiful image quality of Canon's 22.3MB CMOS sensor with a 61-point autofocus system, advanced light metering system, 6 frames per second burst, high ISO capabilities and full HD video with two compression settings (there's also a 3rd party hack for RAW video recording).

These elements add up to make one of the best all-around cameras out there, which is what appeals to my style of photography - underwater, landscapes, sports, portraits, night scenes, etc. The 5D Mk 3 shoots all of it very well. That said, if birds and long telephoto shots are your thing, you're better off looking at the new Canon 7D Mark II as a prosumer DSLR.

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 underwater photo

Mid-range reef scene shot with the Canon 5D Mark III in Aquatica housing.

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 settings

Our recommended menu settings are generally the same for macro & wide-angle shooting, however do depend on the conditions and subject being photographed.

 

 

5D Mark III General Underwater Settings

Before looking at specific settings for shooting wide-angle and macro underwater, let's look at some essential menu settings for the Canon 5D Mark III. These settings will work for any housing, but keep in mind that they do have a level of personal preference.

 

  • Shoot in RAW.  If you're shooting the 5D Mark III, you probably shoot in RAW already. If not, suffice it to say that RAW format records more data and allows more flexibility during post processing than compressing the file into a JPG format in-camera.
  • Use both CF and SD Cards.  This creates more space for memory in case you don't want to open your housing during the day and doesn't create any noticable slowdown in writing or buffering. Just make sure to use fast memory cards.
  • Set Picture Style or Standard or Neutral.  This setting will not affect the data in the image file if you're shooting RAW, however by setting the style to Standard, the LCD will apply some sharpening to the preview, resulting in an image truer to what you'll create in post-processing. Neutral is nice because it doesn't apply any changes, so the LCD shows an image more true to what you'll see in the un-edited RAW file.
    • Video:  Neutral is also nice for video because there is no sharpening applied in-camera, allowing for more customization during post.
  • Auto White Balance.  Canon's auto white balance does very well underwater for both macro and wide-angle, but also depends on the color temperature of your strobes. For my Sea & Sea YS-D1s, I rarely adjust color temperature during post.
    • Video:  Auto white balance works well for casual video shooters. Serious video shooters will manually adjust white balance before every shot, generally depending on depth and sun angle for wide-angle and video light color temperature for macro.
  • Pro Tip:  Turn off the beeping! No need to button beeps and autofocus lock beeps underwater.
  • Pro Tip:  Turn off the info screen on back of the camera during night dives. All the glowing from those numbers takes away from your night vision and ability to compose a shot when using a red light (shrimp, cephalopods, etc). You can remember your settings and adjust accordingly before composing a shot with a new subject, or half depress the shutter and use the numbers inside the viewfinder.

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 settings

 

Wide-Angle Settings for Canon 5D Mark III

Wide-angle settings on the Canon 5D Mark III will vary depending on whether you're shooting sharks, reefscapes or sunbursts, as well as depth, angle of sun and clarity of the water. A great starting point for wide-angle with the 5D Mark III is:

  • ISO: 160
  • Aperture:  F11
    • To create a blurred background, try opening up the aperture more
    • To shoot towards the sun, try stopping down the aperture. Also see our tutorial 'Shooting Underwater Sunbursts'
  • Shutter speed:  1/125s

 

Lenses:

There are two types of lenses available for shooting wide-angle: fisheye and recilinear wide-angle lenes. Fisheye lenses are great all-around underwater lenses while wide-angle lenses are best for shooting subjects that are further away, like sharks and schools of fish. Video shooters will often select their wide-angle lens over the fisheye for tighter framing in their shots.

I use the Tokina 10-17mm and Canon 17-40mm, however the other lenses have some nice features for those investing a bit more. Keep in mind that there's a lot that goes into choosing the right lens, especially if you also plan to use it topside. Some of these include: price, weight, filter sizes (77mm vs. 82mm) & vignetting properties with your favorite filters, as well as lens speed (for bokeh or low light use).

Bluewater Photo's top recommendations for underwater shooters are the Canon 8-15mm fisheye and the Canon 16-35mm - you'll be very satisfied with both!

 

Useful Reviews & Comparisons:

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 underwater photo

A female sea lion swoons at the Canon 5D Mark III & Tokina 10-17mm behind the dome port.

 

Macro Settings for Canon 5D Mark III

The Canon 5D Mark III shoots great macro shots, especially when paired with the Canon 100mm f2.8L macro lens. That said, many prefer shooting APS-C (crop) sensors because of the extra reach, which essentially magnifies the subject. But if you're not trying to shoot nudibranchs the size of sand grains, the 5D Mark 3 will do just fine.

Like wide-angle, there are no right or wrong macro settings; the settings will change depending on the subject and style of shot you're after.

Recommended settings for macro:

  • ISO:  160
  • Aperture:  f18  (*increase this to f/25 or f/32 with a +10 diopter)
  • Shutter Speed: 1/160s (*increase this to 1/200s to help create a black background)

 

Diopters:

  • There are two diopters that Bluewater Photo recommends the most for the Canon 5D Mark III and 100mm f2.8 macro lens. I use the SubSee +10 as I've had it for years, but the newer Nauticam SMC has become a popular choice for those buying new.

 

Useful Reviews & Comparisons:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Settings for Canon 5D Mark III

The general rule for shooting video is to select a shutter speed roughly double the frames per second you're shooting. So for 30fps, you should be using a shutter speed of 1/60. Since this is fixed, the variables that control exposure become aperture and ISO.

 

Aperture:

The Canon 5D Mark 3's full frame sensor is larger than APS-C sensors and requires the shooter to stop down more to achieve the same depth of field. But stopping down limits the ambient light hitting the sensor (i.e. what is illuminated by your video lights). So, in addition to buying powerful video lights like the I-Torch Venom38, you must compose your image to balance a higher f-stop and richer color from your lights with a lower f-stop for depth of field. This is dynamic and settings really depend on each shot composition.

ISO:

The easiest setting is to leave your ISO on auto. You can also limit the ISO range through the 5D MkIII's menu, setting an upward limit of 6400 (for example). This is nice if you're panning or looking for quick shots. Advanced video shooters will opt for manual ISO control to make sure the exposure doesn't change mid-shot if the camera meters the scene differently.

Pro Tip:

Shoot All-I and not IPB. These files are not compressed as much and deliver higher-quality video. That said, make sure you have a fast memory card to support more data being written to your card.

 

5D Mark III Sample Underwater Video

Aquatica A5D Mk III Housing  -  I-Torch Venom38 Video Lights

Filmed by Brent Durand.  Edited by Anastasia Laity for Bluewater Travel.

 

Canon 5D Mark III Underwater Housings

 

Aquatica

aquatica canon 5d mark iii underwater housing

 

Review:  Aquatica A5D Mk III Housing Review

Purchase:  Aquatica A5D Mk III Housing

 

 

Ikelite

Ikelite canon 5d mark iii underwater housing

 

Review:  Ikelite 5D Mk III Housing Review

Purchase:  Ikelite 5D Mk III Housing

 

 

Sea & Sea

Sea & Sea canon 5d mark iii underwater housing

 

 

Purchase:  Sea & Sea 5D Mk III Housing

 
 
 
Nauticam

nauticam canon 5d mark iii underwater housing

 

 

Purchase:  Nauticam 5D Mk III Housing

 

 

 

Canon 5D Mark 3 underwater photo

Soft Corals grow on a wall in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

 

 

 

Learn More - Join our Workshops

Interested in learning more about shooting reefscapes?  Bluewater Photo hosts underwater photo workshops worldwide for learning from the best in the business!

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. Follow Brent on Instagram, Twitter & his adventure blog through www.brentdimagery.com.

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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The Big Picture: Shooting Reefscapes

Brent Durand
How to Shoot Dynamic Reefscapes and Add Color to your Portfolio

 

The Big Picture: Shooting Reefscapes


How to Shoot Dynamic Reefscapes and Add Color to your Portfolio

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

Underwater Reefscape

 

 
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Reefscapes tell a story. They paint a picture of the underwater scenes that we get to experience as scuba divers. You can freeze gorgonians as they draw mazes towards the sky, dot blue water with so many fish it begins to look like the milky way above psychadelic mountains, or show the diversity of a reef evolving before our very eyes.

Reefscapes are fun to shoot but unlike some other underwater photo styles, using the "spray and pray" method really won't deliver good results. A good reefscape scene has been carefully considered and combines many different compositional elements that attract attention and invite the viewer to spend time with the image.

A reefscape scene can include any number of subjects, from corals to kelp to divers to wrecks to the sun and much more. It's up to the photographer to choose the scene that feels best to them.

 

Gear for Underwater Reefscapes

Reefscapes can be shot as mid-range or wide-angle scenes, each requiring different gear, settings and frame of mind. This article covers wide-angle reefscapes.

 

Wide-Angle or Fisheye Lens

All underwater cameras will benefit from use of a wide-angle or fisheye lens when shooting reefscapes. Compact camera shooters will want a wet lens like the UWL-04 Fisheye Lens. Mirroless shooters can't go wrong with the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye Lens. And DSLR shooters will opt for the Tokina 10-17mm, Sigma 15mm or Canon 8-15mm circular fisheye.

 

Strobe(s)

Strobes are essential for shooting underwater reefscapes. As we descend in the water column, color falls off quickly, starting with red. We also start to lose contrast as we get deeper. A good strobe, or better yet, two strobes, will bring that color, punch and contrast back into the reefscape scene. View the best strobes for underwater photography.

 

Strobe Position for underwater reefscapes

 

Strobe Positioning for Reefscapes

When shooting reefscape, you'll be including a large portion of the reef in the foreground of the image. To light a scene this large, position your strobes out wide and to the sides of your housing. Note in the photo above that the strobe heads are angled outward. This is in order to reduce or eliminate backscatter, taking advantage of the 100 degree beam angle of each strobe.

Read our tutorial 'Easy Ways to Eliminate Backscatter'.

 

Underwater Reefscape

My dive buddy cruises over to see what I've found. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/200, f14.

 

Underwater Reefscape

Underwater Reefscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo left: Divers drift along a living wall of soft coral.

Photo right: Vibrant soft corals reach for the sun.

 

 

5 Tips for Shooting Reefscapes

 

1.  Use a Strobe

Using a strobe(s) will create night and day differences in your underwater photos (sometimes literally). Make sure to position the strobes out wide on the sides of the housing to reduce backscatter. We cover several different techniques in our 'Strobe Positioning Guide.'

 

2.  Get Close

The closer you are to the subject, the larger that subject will appear in the frame. This is the same rule as for shooting macro or wide-angle, so make sure to apply it when shooting reefscapes.

 

3.  Shoot Up

Another golden rule of underwater photography, shooting good reefscapes requires shooting up. Why? Because the water color is lighter when we look up (vs. down), creating more pleasing blues (or greens) in the background of your reefscapes.

 

4.  Try Close-Focus Wide-Angle

Make sure to try some close-focus wide-angle shots for your reefscapes. CFWA is where your subject is very close to the front of the wet lens or dome port, and can deliver some spectacular results.

 

5.  Include Your Dive Buddy

Yes, your dive buddy can be the perfect finishing element when your composition has a lot of negative space. Depending on positioning, your dive buddy can add a sense of movement or exploration to the scene. Next time you're out shooting reefscapes, make sure to include your dive buddy in some shots, whether discussed beforehand or candid swim-bys. Be sure to read our 'Tips for Dive Model Photography' article.

 

6.  Practice, Practice, Practice

There's no substitution for practice with your camera when it comes to shooting reefscapes. Try to get in the water every week, even if it means night dives and being tired at work the next day. Don't live near the water? Go shoot some landscape photos during the golden hour. Stuck at home with the kids? Shoot some action shots of them!

The possibilities are endless...

 

Underwater Reefscape

Hard corals, soft corals, fusiliers and reef fish cover every centimeter of ground, showcasing the biodiversity of the reef. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/160, f16.

 

Underwater Reefscape

Reeflife creates a colorful display on this sloping wall dive. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/125, f11.

 

Underwater Reefscape

Soft coral finds a cozy home inside the arms of a large sea fan. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/125, f13.

 

Underwater Reefscape

Mid-range reefscapes are another great composition to try on your next dive. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/125, f13.

 

Underwater Reefscape

Get close and shoot up to really join the action. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/160, f18.

 

Underwater Reefscape

A photographer never stops searching for the perfect shot. Canon 5D Mk3, Tokina 10-17mm lens, Aquatica housing, 1/125, f13.

 

 

Where to Shoot the Best Reefscapes

Bluewater Travel books underwater photographers on trips to the perfect destination at the lowest price. Here are their favorite reefscape destinations:

 

Learn More - Join our Workshops

Interested in learning more about shooting reefscapes?  Bluewater Photo hosts underwater photo workshops worldwide for learning from the best in the business!

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. Follow Brent on Instagram, Twitter & his adventure blog through www.brentdimagery.com.

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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New Technique: Shooting Blind

Scott Gietler
Capture the Shots you Never Could with this Innovative Technique

 

New Technique: Shooting Blind


Capture the Shots you Never Could with this Innovative Technique

Text and Photos By Scott Gietler

 

 

 
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Shooting blind is my new technique for capturing photos you never could have otherwise - like speeding sea lions or a fast-moving bait ball. I highly doubt that I invented this technique, but I haven't ever seen anything written about it, so I thought I would share it with all of you.

I showed this technique to my students at Bluewater Photo's recent La Paz workshop and everyone got some great photos, so now it's time to share it with you, on the Underwater Photography Guide.

 

shooting blind - underwater photography technique
Blue shark and divers, in Southern California, shot blind leaning camera back for sun rays

 

The concept is quite simple, and some of you may have tried it before. If you are using a dSLR with a fisheye lens or wide-angle lens, and are used to shooting through the viewfinder, you simply push your rig out towards the subject with your arms extended, point the rig at a slight upwards angle, and take the photo without shooting through the viewfinder.  I'll often take several shots at slightly different angles.

This allows the camera to get much closer to a subject like a sea lion, shark or baitball then you normally would, and it also allows for a better upward angle than you could get keeping your eye on the viewfinder. It takes a little practise to be able to compose correctly, but it is not that difficult to learn.

 

Demonstation of shooting blind underwater

 

 

Blind Shooting Underwater Photos

 

Baitball shot with the blind shooting technique.

 

Selfie in a bait ball shot with the blind shooting technique.

 

Huge bait ball in La Paz.

 

A school of fish swims away under a sunburst. By pushing my rig forward and shooting blind, I was able to get the rig under the fish and shoot upwards, getting the sun in the photo.

 

My dive buddy engulfed in a bait ball. Shooting blind allowed me to get a better upward angle on this shot, than if I had kept my eye on the viewfinder.

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

About the Author

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide. He enjoys helping others learn underwater photography online, in the store and during international photo trips he attends with customers.

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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Underwater Settings for Sony RX100 II & III

Brent Durand
Best Settings for Macro and Wide-Angle Underwater Photo and Video

 

Underwater Settings for Sony RX100 II and RX100 III


Best Settings for Macro and Wide-Angle Underwater Photo and Video

By Brent Durand

 

Sony RX-100 III Underwater Settings

 

 
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The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 line of cameras is one of the most popular options for underwater photographers looking for the balance between great photo and video, price, size and ease of use.

The RX100 cameras excel past the compact camera market because of their larger sensors and resulting image quality. Recording Full HD video is easy with the press of a button no matter what still photo mode you're using. Full manual control allows experienced underwater photographers to capture the image they imagine, while auto settings deliver fantastic results for more casual shooters.

In this article we are not reviewing the cameras, but sharing the best settings for the RX100 II and RX100 III for underwater photo and video.

 

For a detailed reviews and specs, see our articles:

 

sony rx-100 III underwater photos

In the pool with a water gun. Sony RX-100 III, Recsea RX-100 III housing, ambient light. F8, 1/400th, ISO 400. Photo: Scott Gietler.

 

Best Macro Settings

The Sony RX100 II and RX100 III shoot fantastic macro photos. For the best results try shooting in Manual mode:

  • F8
  • 1/500s
  • ISO 80 (100 on RX100 II)

Make sure you are zoomed out all the way for best focusing and image quality. If using a strobe, Auto White Balance delivers accurate color balance - just remember to set the internal flash to forced flash mode and your strobe to TTL (or manual if you're comfortable with more adjustments.

Remember that shooting at an aperture of F8 will allow for much of the subject to be in focus. You can also experiement with opening the aperture down to F2.8 for a shallow depth of field.

 

Macro Wet Diopter

For shooting very small subject, make sure you have a wet diopter. We recommend the Bluewater +7 macro diopter, as it is lightweight, small and very affordable. It has 67mm threaded mount that will work with all RX100 II and RX100 III underwater housings.

When shooting with a macro diopter, you will want to zoom in to create as much magnification as possible of the subject. Because of the increased magnification, stop down the aperture to create more depth of field. Our recommended settings are:

  • F11
  • 1/500s
  • ISO 80 (100 on RX100 II)

We also recommend using a focus light for macro shooting with a diopter. This will allow your camera to lock focus and focus faster in a dark shooting environment (like we have underwater).

 

 

Best Wide-Angle Settings

Wide-angle shooting with the RX100 III and RX100 II is a lot of fun! We recommend the following settings for Manual mode shooting:

  • F6.3
  • 1/125s
  • ISO 80 (100 on RX100 II)

Make sure you are zoomed out all the way in order to bring as much of the scene into the frame as possible. If your image is too dark or too bright, simply adjust the shutter speed up or down accordingly. If using a strobe, Auto White Balance delivers accurate color balance - just remember to set the internal flash to forced flash mode and your strobe to TTL (or manual if you're comfortable with more adjustments.

For shooting wide-angle into the sun (as you would for a sunburst or silhouette), stop down the aperture to F11 and/or increase your shutter speed to 1/1000s or faster. This will decrease the light entering the camera and help freeze the water to capture stunning sun rays.

 

Wide-Angle Wet Lenses

One of the keys to good underwater photography is getting close to your subject. For small macro subjects that's easy, but for large wide-angle subjects you won't be able to fit the subject into the frame. As a result, photographers need to use a fisheye or wide-angle lens.

For the Sony RX100 III and RX100 II we find the best results with the Bluewater WA-100 Wide-Angle Lens and the Dyron Super Wide-Angle Lens. This is a wet diopter that attaches to the outside of your housing, and expands the field of view so that you can capture great wide-angle perspectives.

 

sony rx-100 III underwater photos

Shark in St. Maarten. Sony RX100 III, Nauticam RX100 III housing, SeaLife Sea Dragon strobe on automatic, F4, 1/250. Photo: Caryn Bing

 

Sony RX100 II Sample Underwater Photo

Recsea RX100 II with Bluewater WA-110 wide-angle lens. Cenotes, Mexico. Photo: Shingo Ishida

 

Sony RX-100M2 underwater photo

Sony RX100 II, F3.2, 1/160. Shot using UWL-04 Fisheye Lens. Photo: Jeremy Hicks

 

Sony RX-100M2 underwater photo

Sony RX100 II, F4.5, 1/320. Shot using UWL-04 Fisheye Lens. Photo: Jeremy Hicks

 

 

Best Video Settings

The Technical Stuff:

The RX100 III received some serious video upgrades from the RX100 II. In simplest terms, video recorded on the new model is of much higher quality with a faster processor and new codec system (XAVC S). So what's the real difference? Basically you can record more data for a higher image quality, as well as faster frame rates at 1080p, which is very nice for creating slow motion in your videos (sharks, bait balls, sea lions, etc). Note that if you plan to use this XAVC S codec, you will need beefy SDXC memory cards that can handle the data.

 

Video Settings:

For the best balance between video quality and frame rate, we recommend the following settings for full HD video.

  • File Format:  AVCHD
    • Set this:  At the bottom of the 1st camera menu.
  • Record Setting:  60p 28M (PS)
    • Set this: At the top of the 2nd camera menu.

 

Another shot from the pool - Sony RX100 III, Recsea RX100 III housing, ambient light.

 

 

Critical Menu Settings

The most important menu setting is to make sure the AF Illuminator is turned off (see Menu 4 below), otherwise your camera will have trouble focusing once inside the underwater housing.

The settings below are in the main camera menu of the RX100 III (1st menu group with camera icon), but are very similar with the RX100 II.

 

 

Menu 1

  • Image Size:  L:20M
    • The highest resolution JPEG setting
  • Aspect Ratio:  3:2
    • Standard film aspect ratio - convenient when you want to print and frame your images in standard-cut mats.
  • Quality:  RAW & JPEG
    • This is Scott Gietler's favorite setting, since you can get the JPG files online asap but also have RAW files for editing.
  • File Format:  AVCHD
    • This is for video only.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 2

  • Record Setting:  60p 28M(PS)
    • This is for video only.
  • Dual Video REC:  Off
    • This is practical for those interested in sharing video via WiFi.
  • Drive Mode:  Single Shooting
    • The only time you would use Continuos shooting would be fast action without any strobes/flash.
  • Flash Mode:  Fill-flash
    • This fires the flash at a low power level, allowing it to recycle faster for the next shot and also save camera battery.
  • Flash Comp:  +0.0
    • This can be reduced (-1, -2 or -3) as long as your strobes are still triggered by the flash output. This will allow the flash to recyle faster for the next shot and also save camera battery.
  • Red Eye Reduction:  Off
    • This is not needed underwater.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 3

  • Focus Mode:  Continuous AF
    • The focus will constantly evaluate itself, adjusting to movements of the camera and/or subject.
  • Focus Area:  Flexible Spot
    • Allows full movement of the focus point, which is ideal for focusing on an eye or nudibranch rhinophore.
  • AF Illuminator:  Off
    • This must be turned off or it may interfere with camera focusing inside the housing.
  • Exposure Comp:  +0.0
    • Used to adjust the camera's metering when shooting in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes.
  • ISO:  80
    • Higher ISOs result in more noise, or grain, in the images, so it's good practice to keep ISO as low as possible.
  • ND Filter:  Off
    • This is not used except in some advanced underwater shooting techniques.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 4

  • Metering Mode:  Center
    • This is generally where your subject will lie. For vast wide-angle scenes this can be changed to Multi.
  • White Balance:  Auto
    • AWB works great, especially with strobes and/or video lights.
  • DRO / Auto HDR:  Off
    • This is not used underwater.
  • Creative Style:  Standard
    • This setting delivers standard color balance, saturation, etc in your JPEG files.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 5

  • Long Exposure NR:  On
    • This setting is used or exposures over 1/3s, so leave it on since it won't affect underwater images since you're using a faster shutter speed.
  • High ISO NR:  Normal
    • This reduces the graininess in an image when shooting at a high ISO.
  • Center Lock-on AF:  On
    • Tracks a subject as it moves through the frame.
  • Smile / Face Detect.:  Off
    • This is not needed underwater.
  • Soft Skin Effect:  Off
    • This is not needed underwater.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 6

  • SteadyShot:  On
    • Helps eliminate camera shake.
  • SteadyShot:  Active
    • Helps eliminate camera shake.
  • Color Space:  sRGB
    • Unless you plan to edit RAW files in software that allows you to record/edit in AdobeRGB then export as sRGB, leave this as sRGB. Learn more about Color Space.
  • Auto Slow Shut.:  On
    • When shooting in Manual mode, this will not be affected as you control the shutter speed. The only time you will want to turn this off is shooting fast-moving subjects in low light.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Menu 7

  • Audio Recording:  On
    • We like sound in video!
  • Micref Level:  Normal
    • This setting is only changed for specific situations (i.e. sound at loud concerts).
  • Wind Noise Reduct.:  Off
    • This is not needed underwater.

 

Sony RX-100 III Menu Settings

 

Other Menus

In the Settings menu (icon of a wheel), we prefer a 2 second Focus Magnification Time and 2 second auto Review time.

 

Having fun swimming - Sony RX100 III, Recsea RX100 III housing, ambient light.

 

 

Recommended Memory Card

We recommend a memory card that is Class 10 or higher. For those who want to use the highest quality video, be sure to use an SDXC card.

Bluewater Photo sells a number of Delkin SD Memory Cards.

 

 

Underwater Housings

The quality of the Sony RX100 III and RX100 II is matched with high quality housings that allow access to all the important camera controls. 

Choosing the perfect housing for your style of diving and budget can be a daunting task, but made inifinitely easier by speaking to experts who have used all the housings. Contact the team at Bluewater Photo for expert advice on choosing the right housing for you.

Also, check out the reviews and Bluewater Photo product pages below:

 

Recsea

 

Nauticam

 

Acquapazza

 

Ikelite

 

Fantasea

 

 

RENT the RX100 III & RX100 II with HOUSING:

Bluewater Photo offers RX100 III and RX100 II camera and housing rentals. Email them or call at +1 (310) 633-5052.

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver, photographer and writer dedicated to capturing unique underwater, ocean lifestyle and adventure images. Brent is editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography!

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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Whale Shark Photo & Video Tips

Brent Durand
Whale Shark underwater photo & video tips, techniques and best settings for DSLR, Mirrorless, Compact and GoPro cameras.

 

Whale Shark Underwater Photo & Video Tips

Tips, Techniques & Best Settings for Swimming with Whale Sharks
 

By Brent Durand
Photos by Scott Gietler & Vijay Raman

 

 

 
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Swimming with whale sharks is a special experience - one that can be a relaxing swim, a heart-pounding adventure surrounded by the largest fish in the ocean or a heart-pounding workout swim alongside one of these massive fish.

Divers can swim with whale sharks around the world, inlcuding destinations like Mexico's Sea of Cortez and Isla Mujeres, Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, Honduras' Utila, the Philippines' Cebu, Indonesia's Cenderawasih Bay and several other dive locations.

UWPG publisher Scott Gietler and co-trip leader Vijay Raman recently returned from Bluewater Photo's La Paz workshop with some amazing images, so let's explore some of the photo techniques they used to capture these images as well as some tips for those shooting video.

 

1.  Use a Fisheye Lens

Whale sharks are large - actually the largest fish in the ocean! You'll want to be close to the subject in order to capture as much detail as possible, and this means using a lens with wide field of view. Of course, if the whale sharks are swimming they could change direction at any moment, so pay very close attention to their movement to avoid touching them or being run over.

 

DSLR

Fisheye lenses like the Tokina 10-17mm will be the most popular, especially on crop sensor cameras. Full frame shooters can use the Tokina or look into the Sigma 15mm or the Canon 8-15 circular fisheye

 

MIRRORLESS

Underwater photographers using Olympus E-PL and OM-D cameras will opt for the popular Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens. This lens is our top recomendation for wide-angle shooting on mirrorless cameras.

 

COMPACT CAMERAS

Compact camera users will want to shoot whale shark photos with a wide-angle wet lens that mounts to their housing port. Our top recommendation is the UWL-04 fisheye lens. Remember that once you put the camera and lens in the water, remove the lens to "burp" out the bubbles trapped between the front of the housing port and the wet lens. Otherwise, you'll see these bubbles in all of your photos.

 

GOPRO

GoPro shooters, whether using the Hero 3, Hero 3+ or Hero4 will be able to record great underwater photo and video of whale sharks without any additional lenses. Since you'll be swimming on the surface with the whale sharks as they feed, no GoPro filters are needed. many find that using a selfie pole can help produce great photo and video. We recommend the SeaLife Aquapod telescoping monopod.

 

A fisheye lens on crop sensor DSLR allowed Vijay to get close to the whale shark without cutting off the tail of the big fish.

 

2.  Use Time Value Exposure

DSLR, Mirrorless and Compact shooters have a number of shooting mode options to choose from. We recommend using time value and closely monitoring your exposure meter before snapping each shot.

When shooting whale shark photos, you have more leeway with a variable aperture. For example, you might not notice much difference between f2.8 and f4 (compact) or f4 and f5.6 (dslr). But if shooting in aperture value you will notice the difference between a shutter speed of 1/15 and 1/30.

Of course, shooting manual is an option, especially with variable ISO (DSLRs that can handle higher ISOs). Just know that the light changes with every repositioning of the camera!

 

This whale shark was captured in sharp detail by ensuring a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action.

 

3.  Shoot in Ambient Light

When swimming with whale sharks, you will want to be as mobile and nimble as possible. And, since the whale sharks are feeding at the surface you can shoot entirely with ambient light. So leave the strobes and video lights on the boat or at the resort. You'll be able to swim faster, maneuver more quickly and have less settings to worry about.

 

Sun rays penetrate the water, lighting up the whale shark and creating a reflection on the surface. No strobes or video lights needed.

 

4.  Position Yourself Away from Others

One of the keys to good underwater photo composition is to eliminate distracting elements from the frame. If you're on a boat with a few other divers, make sure to position yourself so that all your dive buddies are not in the background. Sometimes, this can make very cool photos, but more often than not, your whale shark will look like it has arms and legs growing out of its head.

 

A perfect example of great framing of a swimmer and whale shark. If the swimmer had been cut off by the whale shark (both shapes merged), the scene would leave the viewer feeling unsettled.

 

 

4.  Remember to Shoot Silhouettes

Shooting sideways and down onto whale sharks in ambient light creates beautiful photos, but so does shooting up at the whale sharks. Not only can you create beautiful silhouettes, but you can create nice sunbursts as well.

To capture a sunburst like this, make sure to stop down your aperture (f8 on compact, f18 on mirrorless, f22 on DSLR) and use a fast shutter speed.

 

Shooting up can help create beautiful silhouettes and sunbursts.

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
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10 Essential Ambient Light U/W Photo Tips

Scott Gietler
Ten shooting techniques you need to know in shallow water or when shooting without strobes

 

10 Essential Ambient Light Underwater Photo Tips


Ten Shooting Techniques you Need to Know When Shooting Without Strobes

Text and Photos By Scott Gietler

 

 

 
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Shooting underwater photos with ambient light is a great way to add variety to your portfolio, whether it's sharks, split-shots (aka over-unders) or silhouettes. I recently spent some time shooting ambient light in Kona, Hawaii and Fakarava, French Polynesia and put together some essential tips to get incredible shots next time you're in the water without strobes.

 

The Essential Tips:

 

1 - Get a Big Dome for over/unders

It is much easier to compose and shoot split-shots with a larger dome port. Remember to shoot over/under shots on sunny days. Shoot at a small F-stop. Read more over-under split shot tips.


Photo from Fakarava, French Polynesia, with 8-inch dome port, Tokina 10-17mm lens

 

 

2 - Test your Exposures

Make sure to use exposure compensation to nail the exposure just right without over or under exposing. Take some test shots before the money shot appears in front of you.


Oceanic whitetip shark from Kona, Hawaii with Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens.

 

 

3 - Shoot with the Sun Behind You

The sun will light up the scene if the sun is behind you, eliminating dark shadows and bringing more color into the scene.

 

 

4 - Use Lightroom to Add Color and Contrast

Also be sure to check out my article 'Lightroom for the Rest of Us'. In this example, the color temp was warmed up, the contrast, clarity and vibrance increased and the blacks adjusted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 - Shoot with the Sun in Front of You for rays

When the sun is in front of you and directly overhead (mid-day), you can capture incredible sun-rays.

 

 

6 - Try Black and White Conversions

Many ambient light photos look great in black and white, so try converting your shots to see how they look. These Pilot whales from Kona, Hawaii looks great in black & white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 - Shooting Directly Up for Silhouettes

Make sure your subject is underexposed to avoid "light leakage" (silvertip siulhouette)


Silvertip shark from Fakarava, French Polynesia

 

 

8 - Get Close to your Subject

Getting close will bring out the best possible color in your photos. Notice how the corals in the background are blue, even though they are at the same depth as the corals in the foreground.

 

9 - Shoot a Reef that is Equidistant to the Camera

For great colors throughout the photo, shoot a reef that is equidistant to the camera. This is the best way to avoid the color from being absorbed by the water as distance increases.


Coral reef at Kirby's, Anilao, Philippines

 

 

10 - Shoot at or Near the Surface

This provides the best light and color since there is less water it must penetrate.

 

 

 

About the Author

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide. He enjoys helping others learn underwater photography online, in the store and during international photo trips he attends with customers.

 

Further Reading

 


Where to Buy

Please support the Underwater Photography Guide by purchasing your underwater photography gear through our sister site, Bluewater Photo & Video. Click, or call them at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


 

 
 
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3 Quick Tips for Dive Buddy Photos

Brent Durand
Diver in Scene Photo Essay written on Location in Tulamben, Bali

 

3 Quick Tips for Dive Buddy Photos


Diver in Scene Photo Essay written on Location in Tulamben, Bali

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

Diver in Scene

 

 
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As underwater photographers we like nothing more than sharing photos of what we’ve seen underwater. But at some point, our audience will stifle a yawn on during fish portrait #26. So how do we keep it interesting?

Answer:  Show them photos of you and your dive buddy in action! 

 

Dive Buddy Photo Tips

1) Try close-focus-wide-angle

Find an interesting foreground element that has negative space behind it. The key to a successful CFWA shot is depth. Not only does your dive buddy keep an eye on you underwater, but they are a mobile “depth-creation tool.” Make sure they’re ok being a dive model (prior to the dive), and then use them to fill in that negative space of you CFWA composition. Remember that you’ll need to return the favor if you’re both photographers.

 

Diver in Scene

 

2) Look at the camera or don’t look at the camera.

If you’re shooting close-focus wide-angle, then your buddy should be looking towards the foreground subject. But if you’re shooting your dive buddy in open water, ask them to look directly into the camera, since eye contact helps create a more intimate portrait.

 

Diver in Scene

 

3) Be prepared before working with your buddy.

Be sure to set up your shot before you ask you buddy to model. This way you can focus on working with them instead of the composition and lighting.

 

Diver in Scene

 

I’ve been using these tips with Quinn here in Bali, Indonesia during the 1st leg of our Best of Southeast Asia tour – visiting 14 dive resorts over 8-weeks. Follow our blog for photo essays, travel tips, insider resort reports and our video series (giving you an inside look at each dive resort). Visit the Best of Southeast Asia website.

 

Diver in Scene

 

About the Author

Best of Southeast Asia

Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver, photographer and writer dedicated to capturing unique underwater, ocean lifestyle and adventure images. Brent is editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. Brent will be leading an epic 14-resort Best of SouthEast Asia tour with daily photo and video updates from Aug 16th - Oct 16th 2014.

 

Further Reading

 


Where to Buy

Please support the Underwater Photography Guide by purchasing your underwater photography gear through our sister site, Bluewater Photo & Video. Click, or call them at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


 

 
 
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Beginner's Guide to GoPro for Underwater Video

Brent Durand
Settings, Filters, Lights, Shooting Tips, Editing & more

 

Beginner's Guide to GoPro for Underwater Video


Settings, Filters, Lights, Shooting Tips, Editing & More

 By Brent Durand

 

GoPro Hero 3+ Underwater Video Tips

 

 
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GoPro video cameras have become incredibly popular with divers over the last two years, set up in a variety of ways to capture fleeting moments underwater. Pole cams, selfie poles, housing mounts, handles, trigger grips, dome ports, tray/arm setups, mask mounts, spear gun mounts and all sorts of other accessories are allowing divers to capture their underwater visions and share them online.

Let’s take a look at the basic functions of the GoPro Hero cameras and how to capture beautiful underwater video.

 

How do I Start Shooting Underwater Video?

You can shoot video with your GoPro almost right out of the box. Once you win the battle through the theft-resistant packaging, the first step is to charge the battery. This is done by inserting the battery into the camera and then connecting the camera to a USB plug via the supplied cable.

The camera is fully charged once the red charging light goes off. Insert the camera into the housing while paying special attention not to have any hair, lint, dust, sand or other debris on the housing’s white O-ring on the back cover or the notch it fits into on the housing. The housing will flood and drown the camera if this seal is dirty!

Turn the camera on by holding the front button for two seconds and begin recording video by pushing the top button. Stop recording with the same button. Small red LED lights will flash on front and back of the housing while actively recording. Note that the Hero 3 will turn on after depressing the button for two seconds but that you need to release the button on the Hero 3+ after two seconds for it to turn on.

While there is no screen on the Hero 3+, the camera shoots with a very wide perspective and you’ll capture your subject as long as the camera is pointed accurately. Alternatively, you could purchase the GoPro LCD Touch Bacpac. The Bacpac will let you see what you're filming, however it will drain the battery quickly.

 

What Video Resolution do I use?

The GoPro Hero 3+ default is set to 1080p SuperView 30fps. If this is your first time shooting video, know that this is great HD resolution / frame rate and you’re good to go. More advanced users will experiment with the video settings, perhaps choosing 60fps or even faster frame rates in order to slow these down in post processing for smooth slow motion scenes.

One thing to keep in mind is that the higher resolution and framerate, the more demands you will be placing on your computer for editing. Make sure not to record 4k video for your entire trip only to learn that your laptop doesn’t have the processing power to work with the footage!

 

GoPro Studio for Underwater Video

Tutorial:  Editing underwater video with GoPro Studio 2.0.

 

When do I use a Red or Magenta Filter?

Filters are used in underwater video to bring red light back into the picture, providing more color and contrast for the scene. Red filters bring the red color back into blue water while magenta filters are for green water.

To learn the specifics of using filters on the GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 3+, check out our GoPro Underwater Filters article.

 

When do I use a Video Light and how do I Attach it?

A video light(s) is also used to bring color and contrast into underwater scenes. These lights, some of which are very powerful, can only reach a few feet, so they’re best used with a prominent subject close to the camera (a reef, school of fish, shark, coral, etc.).

To mount video lights, GoPro shooters must first purchase a tray and handles for their housing. The lights will attach to the ends of these handles either directly or with arm extensions and clamps.

Learn more about lights for underwater video.

 

How do I Create a Time-lapse for my Dive Video?

I frequently hear folks asking how to make a time-lapse video in their GoPro. While this software update is probably not very far off, it’s just not possible today. Time-lapse video must be created during post processing.

The most popular way to do this is by recording a series of images with the interval timer (4th mode with picture of a camera and clock). Your GoPro Hero 3+ has several different interval settings accessed via the settings menu, and each will be useful for different time-lapses depending on the intensity of the action. For example, using a .5s interval for a packing timelapse but a 5 or 10s interval for a sunset with moving clouds.

During post processing you can import this series of photos in order to turn it into a video. GoPro’s Studio software makes it as easy as possible.

 

Quick Shooting Tips

1)   If you’re not using a tray and handles, make sure your finger isn’t covering the lens!  Yes, I know this from personal experience.

2)   We all love macro, however your GoPro Hero 3+ will only deliver a sharp image if 12 inches or further from the subject. To get closer, check out the PolarPro Macro & Red Switchblade Filter.

3)   Try to hold the camera as steady as possible. Sharp movement, shaking and vibration in your video will make even hearty sailors seasick. Make sure to be slow and smooth when panning the camera.

 

What’s next?

All photographers and videographers develop their own personal styles over time. These will lead divers to some of the best underwater photo destinations while also requiring different accessories. Bluewater Photo has listed some of these GoPro underwater video accessories to help you take it to the next level.

 

Most of all, stay aware while diving and have fun!

 

 

Swimming with Blue Sharks & Mako Sharks by Scott Gietler. Filmed with GoPro Hero 3+

 

Manatees at Crystal River by Brent Durand. Filmed with GoPro Hero 3

Manatees at Crystal River Florida from Bluewater Travel.

 

 

Featured Reviews

 

Featured Tutorials

 

 

About the Author

 

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. Follow Brent on Instagram, Twitter and his Adventure Blog through www.brentdimagery.com.

 
 

Where to Buy

Please support the Underwater Photography Guide by purchasing your underwater photography gear through our sister site, Bluewater Photo & Video. Click, or call them at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


 

 
 
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