Photography - Technique - Underwater Shots
Having now taken over 20,000 pictures, here are some techniques I learned using my C-5050 with an INON wide angle lens that may be of help to you.
- While looking for subjects to shoot, and when approaching subjects, I keep my camera pointed down. I do this because fish flee when they see the wide angle lens. I don't know whether it looks like a mouth or an eye to them, but I do know they flee when they see it coming toward them.
- I get as close to the subject as I can to reduce the effect of the water between me and the subject. In practice I shoot most of my pictures within 3 to 4 feet and I rarely bother to shoot if the subject is more than 6 feet away.
Tip: Using a wide angle lens helps to get close and not end up with fish with no tails.
- Composition of still or slowly moving subjects like people, turtles, and sharks is a cinch. The LCD display on the camera shows you exactly what will be included in the picture. Just point and shoot.
- For rapidly moving objects the LCD is useless. By the time you try to find the subject in the LCD, it's either out of position or gone.
Fortunately the wide angle lens covers such a large area that it's possible to just point the lens at the subject and shoot. In so doing, I don't try to line up any specific feature of the camera with the subject. Instead I just point the lens at the subject and shoot. Immediately after taking the shot I look at the LCD to see what I got. The results are so good it's almost scary --- thanks to the wide angle lens.
- Shooting marine life at a slight up angle results in pleasing compositions that include some "sky" in the picture. In many cases the only way to produce this effect is to shoot with the camera below your eye level and aimed up slightly. There is no way to use the LCD in this position. Here again, pointing the wide angle lens and shooting is the only way to get the picture.
- Optical zoom is really only useful for close up shots of stationery subjects. Digital zoom is useless. You can more productively duplicate the results of digital zoom by later cropping the picture.
When the lens is zoomed to it's optical limit of 3x, it's very hard to find the subject in the LCD. Pointing the lens and shooting doesn't work well for me at this magnification either. So what I do is locate the subject in the LCD and then zoom the lens. This works great for close-ups of lobsters, moray eels and other slow moving creatures.
Even when used properly, optical zooming thru a wide angle lens will produce blurring of the picture around it's edges. To compensate for this physical reality, I center the subject in the LCD knowing that what is not in the center of the picture will be blurred.
Note: I don't normally use the wide angle lens for taking close-up pictures (as close as 8 inches from the lens). The reason is that usually when I am shooting close-ups I often also use the optical zoom up to 3x. This produces really great pictures without the wide angle lens whereas zooming thru the wide angle lens results in serious blurring around the edges of the picture.
- When in doubt, take the shot. You can always figure out latter what to do with it. In fact, I often take shots I have no intention of keeping because the pictures on my computer screen are so much prettier in color than what I see at 60 feet. And I see details I never saw when taking the picture. Taking lots of pictures and seeing them them the same day are luxuries afforded by digital photography.
- Learn to trust your LCD display. A good picture looks colorful and pretty in your LCD. On the other hand if the shot just taken looks too bright or too dark, don't hope for the best. Assume it's too bright or too dark and try another shot with different settings or a different positioning of your strobe(s).