MARIA MUNN'S COLUMN: The importance of patience
Do your underwater photographs sometimes get the blues? It doesn’t seem that long ago since PADI launched its Digital Underwater Photography Speciality some six years ago and it has been super inspiring to see how many compact camera users have gained a burst of confidence to experiment with their settings to capture the magic of our rich ocean environment.
There is a whole realm of underwater colours waiting to fill your frame with vibrancy and all you need is a little piece of imagination to bring your dive to life. And no expensive equipment is needed either for this, or cameras with full manual controls. Just a simple ‘point and shoot’ or ‘hit and hope’ camera, as one course guest brilliantly phrased it, can achieve spectacular colours using the camera’s built-in flash or manual white balance.
Macro photography is by far and away the easiest place to start in capturing our kaleidoscopic underwater world and simply choosing a recipe of the camera’s own macro button, a low film speed and lastly a dash of forced flash is guaranteed to give your photos the ‘wow’ factor, as long as you are close. Some divers use torches to expose those breathtaking colours that can be found underwater. I loved the colour contrast that the green coral offered me (in main image) and had to be super patient to capture this little tiger of a blenny bouncing around in all his or her glory on the reef. Keeping my finger half-pressed on the button and simply panning every move helped to keep the subject sharp and going to the gym a few weeks before my trip helped to stop my little arm from suffering too much arm-ache from staying still!
Paler-coloured subjects such as stonefish, scorpionfish and more exotic wobblegong sharks, as shown in the picture above, can really benefit from a splash of lush soft corals to really bring out their best side. This particular wobblegong was having an afternoon powersnooze. Waiting patiently and moving closer inch by inch, I managed to capture these lush soft corals as well as bring out the gorgeous camouflage. I used a fisheye lens with my Canon Ixus with one flashgun, which really helped. Macro lovers can also grab close-up shots of their skin patterns to make stunning abstract shots.
Even if your subject doesn’t have a particularly striking background, simply changing a few settings can add incredible ambience to your shots. The yellow snappers pictured below were schooling together on a very drab day, with hardly any sunlight and poor visibility. My compact with limited controls (and no manual controls) captured these fish beautifully simply by pressing the Macro button and choosing a low exposure value setting. Again my fisheye lens enabled me to get super close to these and one flashgun brought out their colours, complementing the background perfectly and giving me almost an ‘aurora borealis’ effect.
Patience and staying still really is the key to get the very most out of your photography underwater and practicing from different angles. We’ll be looking at more ideas for composition as well as UK dive spots later on, so stay tuned for more!
I’ll be travelling in Thomas my photobus to Swanage Pier and to Capenwray during the upcoming bank holidays at Easter and Maytime to help make sure that you make the most out of your compact camera during your time for the special price of just £50 for a whole day’s tuition. Limited places are available, so book your spot today! Or why not join me on a luxury overseas trip to the Red Sea with blue o two in June. Join over 15 compact camera champions and get the most out of your camera with fun, friendly and fast results. Email me at email@example.com for more information and free advice.
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