With the wide availability of underwater photography gear, an interest in taking pictures underwater appeals to many, once their early qualifications are under their belt. Worcester BS-AC has many members who are active underwater photographers; this ranges from those whose motivation is to document their experience underwater, to a group for whom underwater photography is their main interest in diving.
So, what’s the draw to underwater photography?
In UK diving, capturing images is a bit of a challenge, but even with inexpensive equipment, really pleasing photography is possible (see top tips below). A good place to start is close-up or “macro” photography. This is well suited to UK diving because you are very close to the subject – start by practicing with subjects that don’t move and, once you have your technique honed, move on to more skittish critters. Shooting images of animals you see on your dive is a great way of identifying something you’ve not seen before, showing off an unusual sighting or producing a print you can put on your wall (or social media stream).
Many diver-photographers aspire to capture images which convey something of the whole wreck or reef they are diving, and this wide-angle photography is more challenging. We still need to get as close as possible to our subject (to reduce the amount of water between subject and camera lens), so to capture a whole scene, a wide-angle lens is needed. Most compact camera housings can be fitted with a wide-angle attachment (which lets you switch between wide-angle and macro photography during the dive), but for this type of photography, you may achieve better results from a system with interchangeable lenses. In this latter case a “fisheye” lens allows you to capture the whole scene from close range.
Though the costs of underwater photography have fallen in recent years, it can still be an expensive hobby, so most divers begin with a lower cost system and upgrade over time as their skills develop. There are many second-hand bargains to be found, which can ease the financial cost of taking up the hobby. Since many of our members are also photographers, there are often items which come up for sale and there are always fellow divers you can ask for advice.
Although many of our members often carry cameras on club dives, because we have a number of keen underwater photographers, we also run club trips focussed on photography. On these trips, the sites are chosen for their photo opportunities and often the group size is a bit smaller, to allow more space on the club boat. It also helps to improve your skills, when there are other diver-photographers to discuss your images with.