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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Underwater Landscape


Dive into underwater photography with an interchangeable-lens camera and housing

This Article Features Photo Zoom

All of the photos shown in this article were taken in the Banda Sea in Indonesia on a Wetpixel expedition. For 12 days, a small group of photographers lived aboard the Damai II dive boat as we moved from Ambon to Kaimana on the island of Papua. Above: The underwater landscape has an alien look about it. The sun ball is along the curved edge of a phenomenon called Snell's Window.

Underwater photography may be the most specialized form of nature photography there is. It's gear-intensive, you're working in an environment where humans aren't supposed to be able to survive, and it requires being closer to the subject than anything on land other than macro work. Like many people, I was drawn to underwater photography by my love of the ocean and an attraction to the incredible colors in underwater photos I had seen. In 2006, thanks to PADI, I had an opportunity to become a certified scuba diver and to take the PADI Digital Underwater Photography course. That experience changed my life.

Some of the dive sites were teeming with more fish than I've ever seen at a time before or since.

More than any other aspect of nature photography, digital cameras have enabled would-be underwater shooters to shorten the basic learning curve. Within a week of taking my first underwater photo (which essentially was an underexposed, blurry gray-green mess), I was shooting sharp, well-exposed, colorful and rewarding images. That's extraordinary. I had the technical basics sorted out, which freed me to embark on the much more rewarding adventure of looking for compelling images, watching animal behavior and finding underwater scenics.


Clear, shallow water gives you an opportunity to show dry land in the background.
Underwater photography is still highly specialized and gear-intensive, but it has become dramatically more accessible over the past decade. The ability to shoot, review on the LCD, adjust and shoot again has revolutionized the learning process.

Fundamentals Of Underwater Shooting
Get Close. More than any other form of nature photography, it's important to get close to the subject when you're shooting underwater. It's a challenge, to be sure. You're dealing with surge and current, and you're trying not to touch anything—and this is all while controlling your breathing and paying attention to the fact that you're underwater! With all of that to think about, getting close isn't easy, but it's essential to making compelling photos.

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