Last month my daughter received a new bike from my parents for successfully completing her first year of full-day school. Consequently, I have been trying to snap her zooming along on two wheels, minus the standard sidewalk shots. To that end I have crawled in ditches to get a low angle shot, climbed a rock wall to get a bird’s-eye snap and squatted on cement to try to document the action from the ground up.
I’m done. I pretty sure I have exhausted every angle imaginable, and now I am ready to move on… to swimming.
When she’s not riding her new bike, my kid has been swimming the day away in our neighborhood pool. My goal this summer is to finally figure out how to capture a decent underwater shot without having to invest in an expensive waterproof camera. When I’m not trying to shoot through a Ziploc bag, I’ve been experimenting with disposable waterproof cameras. The problem with these cheap models is lighting (among other issues). As you swim deeper under water, light diffuses. This means underwater shots are much darker than ones that you take on land. Ideally, you want to compensate by boosting your lighting source or modifying your camera’s white balance in order to get pictures with realistic colors, but this is not always an option when you are shooting with a disposable camera.
If you have the means, then it’s beneficial to have a separate flash or strobe on your camera when shooting under the water. Having an external flash unit is especially critical if you are planning to capture pictures in very deep water where it’s really dark. Since color is absorbed as it travels through water, the deeper you are the more likely you will notice a reduction in color clarity, especially with reds, oranges and yellows. A strobe replaces that color. It also helps to provide shadow and texture.
Another factor to consider when taking photos underwater is buoyancy. It is critical for you to control your breathing and figure out a way to brace yourself before pressing down on the shutter button, otherwise you will end up with blurry shots. Sudden movements will also wreck havoc on underwater images.