Wide-Angle Underwater Photography at Night

 
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I love wide-angle photography at night. All the colors come out so nicely, and there is no messy “ambient light” to worry about.

 

 

 

 

 

rockfish photo at santa cruz island

Rockfish photo at night, Fisheye lens, F8, ISO 200, 1/200th, Channel Islands

 

Underwater Camera Settings

Shoot at a high shutter speed if you want to block out light from dive lights, and shoot at a lower shutter speed to include light from dive lights. The smaller the aperture, the more depth of field you will have, but keep in mind your strobes may have less "reach" through the water.

You can dive with one or two strobes. One strobe can give an interesting effect, making it easier to light up only part of the subject or frame. Photos taken at night usually look best with even lighting.

 

Setting Manual Focus

If you feel like you might have trouble focusing your lens at night, and you are using a fisheye or wide-angle lens, you can prefocus your wide angle lens at the hyperfocal distance for F8 (around 3ft in front of the port) and leave it on manual focus for the dive, everything will be in focus from 1.5ft to infinity. Note - you must do this underwater, not on land , otherwise everything will be out of focus. This is because you are focusing on a virtual image that is closer to the dome port underwater than on land. If your camera allows it, focus on your fin underwater, about 2 1/2 ft away, and then switch to manual focus.

 

Underwater night photography tips

  • Shoot at a high shutter speed to block out light from dive lights

  • Use a good focus light if possible

  • Use continuous focus mode if your camera offers it, in case your camera has trouble achieving focus

  • Take photos within 12 inches of the subject for great color in your photographs

 

Further Reading

Settings for wide-angle underwater

Wide-angle underwater photography technique

Dome port optics

Photographing sharks and other big animals underwater

Underwater strobe positions