by permission of New York Institute of Photography
for Better Pictures
the heat and humidity have got you hot and bothered
this summer, why not dip your big toe into Underwater
Photography? You don't need to buy any expensive
equipment if you just want to experiment. If
this is your first attempt, you can get started
by purchasing any of the waterproof single-use
underwater cameras on the market.
is a great place to start, especially if you
don't plan on going deeper than 12 feet. The
latest single-use waterproof models from Kodak
come with 800 Max Film, the most versatile of
Kodak films, since it works well in bright sunlight
as well as lower light levels.
you're ready to invest in a reusable underwater
camera, we'll tell you about a few of the model
we like later on.
a lot to learn if you get serious about underwater
photography. This article isn't intended to
be a thorough introduction to this complicated
subject. Particularly if you want to take a
camera along on scuba dives and work at great
depths, there's a lot to learn and you'll find
that some of the recognized dive organizations
also offer very good photography lessons. In
this article, we really want to get those of
you who might be in the pool or surf interested
in the possibilities of using a camera as part
of your recreational swimming or skindiving.
DeLaney NYI Dean
DeLaney NYI Dean
A waterproof single use model is perfect for
candid photos of your friends playing around
in the pool. You can use them for interesting
results above the water or under it. With a
little experimentation, you can even take a
photo that's half above the surface and half
submerged, like the photo below.
you head out to the beach this summer, you should
consider leaving your expensive SLR camera at
home, since salt and sand are the natural enemies
of the innards of any camera. With a waterproof
model in your hand, you will have the option
of chasing your frisky pooch or hyper child
into the water without damaging your camera.
DeLaney NYI Dean
slip by the pool and you could see your precious
SLR free fall to the deep-end. Who needs that
stress when you're on vacation? So don your
snorkel, scuba, or swimming goggles and head
to the nearest body of water, be it your neighborhood
swimming pool, beach, or maybe you've got a
really big bathtub. Our underwater photography
tips will ensure that you take great photos
wherever you are this summer.
you are not an amphibian, a few obstacles underwater
that wouldn't befuddle you on land might distract
you underwater. Your body will feel like it's
moving in slow motion. It's important to keep
an eye out for nasty predators that are around
you, be they Man-o-war jellyfish or Boogie boarders.
As much as you want that perfect vacation shot,
you do not want to start your summer off on
the disabled list. It's easy to become so fascinated
with what's happening in front of your camera
that you neglect what's going on behind your
best time to take underwater photos is between
10am-2pm, because this is when the sun is directly
overhead. At this time you will get optimal
sunlight. If you go snorkeling and stay close
to the shore and find the underwater scenery
somewhat Spartan, you can ask a friend to come
along with you to be an underwater model. (Someone
with good lungs who isn't camera shy!)
Student C. Leedham
of the most common mistakes land photographers
make when they are first exploring underwater
photography is shooting from too far away. Remember
that when you're underwater your vision is off.
Looking through a face mask, everything appears
about 25% closer than it really is.
if you spot a colorful fish, eel or other creature,
move in close to make up for this. The NYI guidelines
apply underwater too. Remember: Simplify! Don't
be bashful with your finned friends, get in
close, and fill up the frame with your subject
to capture a memorable photo. This will reduce
the amount of water you have to shoot through,
which will improve your photo especially if
the water isn't that clear.
thing that can surprise rookie underwater photographers
is the loss of color and light as you plunge
down. You lose color very quickly underwater.
The reds are the first to go. The further down
you go, the more muted the colors will be till
your girlfriend's bikini goes from fire engine
red to grayish blue. If your single-use camera
has a built-in flash use it: This will help
bring out the bathing suit's real color.
in the water can be very powerful images. Do
you want your model to appear dark against the
sun-lit water? Then you should make sure the
sun is in front of you, if possible behind your
model. If you want to showcase your subject's
wild color and have the background appear dark
and foreboding, then keep the sun behind you.
interviewed two NYI graduates who are now earning
their living as professional underwater photographers,
Ian Lauder and Jim Edds. Recently, Rodale's
Scuba Diving Magazine named Ian "Photographer
of the Week." (Check out Ian's photography
at his own Web site, www.cyber-sea.com). Ian
was on his way to Maui to photograph wildlife
when we caught up with him. We asked him what
were some of the mistakes he made when he first
started shooting underwater. Besides giving
us the tips about distance and color that we
mentioned earlier, here are some added tips
shoot down unless you have a good reason, like
wanting to shoot dark subjects on a white sandy
at an upward angle to capture a more dramatic
the capabilities of your camera setup.
aware of dive gear, kelp, bubbles, etc. floating
in front of the lens.
the subject from the background so it stands
motion is slower under water, so you should
keep this in mind if you are using SLR, when
selecting your shutter speed.
uses Fuji slide film in blue water and Kodachrome
slide film ASA 64 or 200 in green water. Fuji
films can make the water look a little bluer,
but Kodachrome can give you a more realistic
Student Jim Edds
NYI graduate who is making a name for himself
in underwater photography is Jim Edds in Florida.
His photos of free diving champion and fashion
model Mehgan Heaney-Grier, one of which is show
above, have circled the globe. He had a full-page
image of Mehgan published in People magazine
and the London Times. He was recently hobnobbing
with Club Medders in Sardinia at the Second
Free Diving Competition. The photos he took
of the competitors were published in ESPN's
of the time, Jim's film of choice is Fuji 100
film. He uses an aluminum housing from Aqua
Vision Systems. "The trick is to shoot
close with a wide angle with an auto-focus camera
because depth of field underwater is very unforgiving,"
you ever dreamed of free diving in a Florida
swamp to look for alligators to cuddle up with?
In this photo Jim took, the brave man named
"Manny" appears to be tickling the
gator. Jim tells us that Manny has been interacting
with gators since he was a kid and figured out
that approaching them underneath like this was
not threatening, but touch the gator on top
of the nose and you will get the opposite reaction.
(Do not try this at home!) This photo appeared
in Playboy Germany. Jim used Kodak Royal Gold
400 film for this shot, as there's not much
light in the swamps.
Student Jim Edds
Student Jeremy Wilcox
Hint for landlubbers: Maybe you don't even like
to swim, and the idea of free diving in a clear
blue ocean or a muddy swamp strikes you a foolhardy.
You may be able to use you regular camera and
take some great photos of animals that are underwater
while you stand safe and dry on terra firma.
How? Many local zoos now feature glass-sided
tanks where you can photograph your subjects
underwater, like these two hulking hippos. Just
watch the lighting. Either don't use flash,
or if you do, make sure you're not perpendicular
to the glass surface because you'll get a nasty
reflection. Shooting through glass works best
if your flash is 30-degrees or more off perpendicular.
If you feel very comfortable fathoms deep among
the fish and you want to go beyond the single-use
cameras, there are a few underwater cameras
and accompanying accessories that can add to
your underwater photography experience. For
the beginning underwater photographer there
are reloadable underwater cameras on the market
that are modestly priced so you won't have to
dip into your nest egg.
are a few things to consider before buying an
underwater camera. How much do you want to spend?
How deep are going to go?
Bonica Snapper Camera can be purchased
for around for $129. The Bonica Snapper uses
35mm film and a built in electronic flash, is
sealed with a silicone 0-ring, and can withstand
a depth of 150 feet. You can also buy accessories
such as a Neon Strobe Light to enhance picture
quality in poor lighting areas. The arm is easily
adjustable. You can attach it to the camera
or hold it in your hand. The close-up Kit helps
you sharpen the photos you take at 10"
to 24." The Snapper Complete Set comes
with the Snapper camera, the close-up lens,
the neon flash and strobe, in a fully padded,
rain and sun-proof Twill nylon case costs $499
(suggested retail price). For more information,
check out their website at www.bonicadive.com.
Another possibility is to put the camera you
own into an underwater housing. What are housings?
You will hear a lot about these glass and metal
things in the underwater world. Housings are
camera protectors made of glass and metal that
fit snuggly around your regular camera and protect
it from the water.
makes a housing that works with Kodak, Fuji,
and AquaSnap single-use cameras. Their latest
model, the AquaShot 3e, works with the latest
Kodak and Fuji single-use cameras, but not the
FunSavers. The FunSavers work with the AquaShot
2 versions. This really isn't as complicated
as it sounds.
The AquaShot 3 retails for $90. This
housing comes with its own reloadable Fuji Endeavor-10
APS camera (retail value $55). Ultra compact
and lightweight, the AquaShot 3e housing features
an optical grade glass lens, built-in handgrip
with lanyard, accessory shoe, and a sports finder
for easy framing. Operates to 38mm (125'). An
AquaShot package complete with the Fuji camera,
housing, Substrobe, Macro Kit, Travel Bag and
batteries retails at $340. (In some newsgroups
we've read posts that claim that this can be
purchased for less than $200 so, as with everything,
it pays to shop around.)
Ikelite site (www.ikelite.com) is worth visiting.
SeaLife Skindiver Camera retails for
$99 and has a built in automatic flash and it
can withstand 45" depth. Its close cousin
the SeaLife ReefMaster offers the same built-in
flash and auto-exposure and a 164" depth
for $189. (See photo)
Canon Sure Shot A1 has an extra large
viewfinder, which comes in handy when you're
wearing thick scuba goggles. This sporty yellow
camera costs $250. Something to consider when
buying a good quality underwater camera is that
these cameras are also great land cameras. You
will be able to use them throughout the year
and maybe take a few memorable shots of a rainstorm.
Minolta also makes an APS underwater model,
the Vectis Weathermatic.
with permission from the New York Institute of Photography
website at http://www.nyip.com
you become addicted to underwater photography
and want to take it to the highest level, then
buying a Nikonos V or older Nikonos model such
as Nikonos II and III is a good investment.
The high-end waterproof cameras like the Nikonos
series are in the $950 range. That's the suggested
retail price, a dealer will usually knock off
a couple hundred dollars off of this. You can
probably find a used one for half that price
by searching the Web or visiting your local
used camera shop.
makes flash gear and accessories that are designed
to get optimum performance out of the Nikonos
cameras, so make sure to check their on-line