Underwater and nature photographer Kelly Walkotten gives us great tips for getting started and perfecting your underwater photography including gear, lens recommendations, and favorite dive locations.
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Underwater Photography Basics with Kelly Walkotten
Dive housing is expensive, but necessary.
– Recommend Nauticam
– Look for housings that slide together and seal rather than those that butt together and snap into place.
– Made specifically for each camera type so that all buttons and dials are accessible.
– External ports are available to accommodate each size of lens.
– Off-camera lights are necessary to capture colors and attach to arms on the housing.
– 60mm or 105mm Macro lens for reef images – allows you to get within an arm’s length of your subject.
– 18-55mm general lens for larger animals like sea turtles.
– Fisheye lenses can create interesting underwater images.
– 17-40mm or fixed 20mm wide angle lens for large open water animals like whale sharks.
– Use with current lenses to increase magnification.
– Screws onto the end of the lens similar to a filter.
– Wet Diopter attaches to the outside of the lens port with water sandwiched in between.
– Safety measure – keeps track of time, depths, air supply, and nitrogen concentrations.
– Helps with buoyancy.
– Keeps body temperature more steady.
– Protects against accidental brush with venomous creatures.
- Perfect your diving skills before adding a camera.
- Know your camera and manual photography basics before taking it underwater.
- Take classes. Practice.
- Explore and observe. Be PATIENT. Stay aware of your surroundings.
- Do your homework before you dive. Ask your dive master about the animals and conditions expected for the dive so you know which lens/lenses to bring.
- Don’t chase or stress the animals. Just a few pops of a flash and back off – they’re not physically equipped to handle bright light.
- Get down on their level. “Face” shots are much better than the top of the head.
- As above, so below. Use the same principles of photography underwater as you would above the water. Try to get it right in-camera. Bad background? Change your position. Check the back of your camera for harsh or unwanted shadows.
- Slow down and breathe easy. Some animals, like sharks, are scared off by the bubbles from your breathing.
Mentioned on the show
Cayman Islands Underwater Photography Instructor – CathyChurch.com
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Gear Recommendation of the Week
A Circular Polarizer creates contrast between blue sky and cloud for dramatic deep blue skies and cuts glare off reflected surfaces such as water. It rotates for different effects, is great for wide angle lenses with no vignetting. Non-reflective metal frame eliminates reflections. Metal, double threaded frame allows for additional filters or hoods.