Under Water Photography

Choosing your system
Before you take the plunge, you’ll need to choose between an underwater camera or an underwater housing.  Many manufactures produce waterproof cameras.  Most are not designed for serious diving and may only be good for depths of up to 5 meter.  But for backyard swimming pools these can be a good option.  Underwater housings are designed for greater depths and are available for point & shoot cameras and for most full sized DSLRs. Another option is a seal-able ‘plastic bag’ type housing.  These are sold by camera size and type and are the least expensive option.

Don’t hold your breath
Well actually, you may have to. You can use the dip and dunk method where you hold your breath, go under, shoot and come back up for air. But it is very difficult to concentrate on taking pictures if your lungs are screaming for air.  SCUBA, snorkel gear or other breathing apparatuses make it easier to compose, focus and take those great pictures. Check your local dive shop for more information and other options. A good snorkel mask works better than swimming goggles.  Controlling your buoyancy is also very important. If possible, wear a weight belt or stash a few small weights in your pockets.  Without additional weight you will find that you pop right back up to the surface.  This is especially true if you are just holding your breath. Your inflated lungs will greatly increase your buoyancy. One technique that works well is to take several deep breaths and then exhale before submerging. You won’t be able to stay under as long, but you won’t be bobbing to the surface like a cork.

Get close and use bright colours
Now that you are finally in the water, follow these tips:

Lighting is important
Shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is high overhead, not early in the morning or late in the day.  You want as much light as possible bouncing around the pool and illuminating the subject.  When the sun is directly overhead a lot of the light is able to penetrate the water’s surface. When the sun is low in the sky only part of the light is able to penetrate the surface.   Try to shoot in the shallow end where the light will bounce and be reflected up and off the bottom and sides of the pool.  Think of the bottom of the pool as a giant reflector.  Keep this in mind when scouting for pools.  Pools with white or light coloured interior paint will have the best light.

Camera settings
 For most cameras, using auto exposure and auto focus will yield excellent results.  Since the background is often very bright, it helps to use center weighted or spot metering.  Use a white balance setting of 6000k or use “Cloudy” or “Shady. Don’t waste a lot of time trying to review your images on the LCD screen. It is usually so bright in the water that you’ll find it very difficult to see much at all.  Instead, set the camera to display a histogram and just review it for proper exposure. Even in a bright pool you should be able to read the histogram to ensure that you are getting a good exposure.  Then just keep shooting and have some fun.

Safety first and always!!!
 Always consider safety first. Don’t try any of the advanced techniques listed above unless you are a very good swimmer and comfortable in the water. Don’t use SCUBA gear or other underwater breathing apparatus without receiving the proper training. If you are using weights or a weight-belt in deep water, make sure you can shed or drop them quickly.Don’t ask your subjects to do anything that is beyond their skill or comfort level.  Always have an additional person poolside who can assist you and your subjects and who can act as a lifeguard or safety officer. Have fun but remember – Safety First!

By http://www.ultimatephotoguide.com