Underwater photography is a general term to refer to photographs taken underwater, while underwater photography is one where it is essential to carry special diving equipment, due to the depth where most of the underwater nature is found.
Even so, both terms are correct to refer to the photographic technique that seeks to encompass and capture the unique essence of marine life.
Who invented underwater photography?
In 1846, William Thompson was the one who created this peculiar art. With the help of a colleague, he inserted a camera into a metal box, which allowed him to take the first underwater photograph in history .
Thanks to this, the advances for this particular technique began, as in 1886, thanks to Louis Boutan , the first diving photograph was taken .
Also in the 1920s, William Harding Longley , in his desire to photograph fish in his natural habitat, was the first in taking these color photographs.
How to start underwater photography?
First of all, you don’t just have to have photographic knowledge. You must have knowledge of scuba diving, freediving or snorkeling.
Before explaining these activities, it is important to emphasize that it is best to practice them without a camera. By doing them as something other than photography, it will be easier to familiarize yourself with the sea, and, therefore, it will not be a burden to carry your work equipment.
This is the first option if you decide to start in the world of underwater photography. Being an activity that is flush with the water, anyone unfamiliar with diving can do it without any problem.
Also known as freediving, this is a more risky activity, due to its lack of oxygen tank. If what you want is to take a good photo, it is not highly recommended to do it using this practice. (Unless it has been practiced for a long time).
The classic art of diving is the best option to obtain very good photographs of the marine world. Although it is the option that requires more work equipment , it is also the activity that most underwater photographers carry out.
How to take underwater photography?
To achieve this, it is necessary to have the necessary work materials, as well as some techniques and tips on how to work in this marine environment.
The working range of this class of photos is not common. A normal job is carried out on land, where you can use the camera and all its instruments that complement each other to have the best result. When moving on to an underwater photography job, all these objects change, to withstand the depth of the sea.
Cell phone camera: It is used when apnea is practiced, since cell phones do not support depth as much. Good for beginners, but not for all types of underwater photography.
Action camera: The popular GoPro is the best option for beginners. It’s easy to use, withstands a deep dive, and is light in weight.
Compact cameras: It is more professional than the previous two options, but it is not the best either. Its only disadvantage is not having interchangeable lenses, although it can be compensated by the fact that it is designed for almost all types of photography.
mirrorless or reflex cameras: Without a doubt, the most professional option , but also the most expensive. These cameras are specially designed for photography in general, but it is necessary to buy a special housing to submerge it, in addition to all the necessary lenses to have a good result.
Types of camera housings
There are several types of housings, but the most common are aluminum and polycarbonate. Both fulfill the function of protecting the chamber from water and its pressure.
Polycarbonate shells are cheaper , while aluminum ones are of better quality , therefore the best option is the latter.
Types of lenses
Like any reflex camera, you need several lenses for the type of photography you are looking for. In the marine realm, there are several types that help make this job easier.
Wet close-up lenses: They are lenses that can be removed and even put under water. They are perfect for macrophotography.
Angle lenses and domes: These help to overcome obstacles that must be experienced in underwater photography, such as diffusion, refraction , etc.
Endoscopic or micro-angle lenses: They are the least used lenses, but it does not mean they are bad. They are mainly used to avoid blurred background in macro photography.
Supports, arms and floats
In most cases, these accessories are used to facilitate mobility and stability of the camera.
The supports are the base where the other accessories are placed, such as the arms.
The arms are used to put the spotlights or flashes to the working set that is being used.
The floats help the buoyancy of the work equipment, which helps to not be so exhausting to work with all these sets.
Techniques and tips
Light: is a challenge in underwater photography, due to the depth, opacity, current and particles of the water . Due to this, the ideal is to use external flashes , although another option is to take advantage of natural light, but it only works when it is in a very shallow depth.
Other tips are do not shoot backlight, always have the sun from behind and look for places with light rocks , since these help the light to bounce and have a greater amount of light.
Composition: Like all photographic work, composition is a essential and necessary part. In underwater photography, one of the most important tips is the less, is more rule. Also remember that patience is the key, more if you are working in an unusual area.
In conclusion, underwater photography is a unique technique, that offers us the beautiful marine life, and although it is one of the most complicated due to the field in which it works, it also offers the best photographs to the world.