Hot Tips: Aquascapes

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By Tine Funderud & Stone Meharry.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Looked out over the hills, the forests, the fields and the flowers? When above sea we look at landscape, get mesmerized by it and fall in love with the beautiful view.

 

It should be the same when diving. Divers are now obsessed with finding the smallest creatures, looking into cracks and amongst the kelp. As much as we applaud the exploring part, sometimes it is great to sit back and appreciate the stunning underwater landscape, or aquascape.

When descending for your dive look at the rock structures shaping and creating the reef; observe the flora that make up its forests; notice how the fish interact with their home. When diving a pinnacle, imagine how many similarities it has to climbing a mountain. Humans spend thousands of dollars on drones to get a look from above, and here you are just gliding over it: try and take in the magnitude and beauty.

When diving for the scenic view it goes without saying you need good visibility – and a sunny bright day will go a long way.

Top: You want to create a sense of greatness and immensity; Middle: Get as close to your subject as possible without compromising what you want in the frame; Bottom: Use fish and people to show scale and add life, movement and emotion to your image.

Top: You want to create a sense of greatness and immensity; Middle: Get as close to your subject as possible without compromising what you want in the frame; Bottom: Use fish and people to show scale and add life, movement and emotion to your image.

When taking pictures of an aquascape, there are a few things to consider:

  • Hovering far away from your subject raises a few challenges – water has a higher density and will fade out your surroundings a lot quicker than above water.
  • The ocean is rarely crystal-clear and will always have small silt particles and microscopic organisms that will distort your photo and make it hard to focus on subjects further away.
  • Because of water density you lose a lot of light, resulting in loss of detail and contrast. Spots that aren’t lit up will lose texture and details altogether.

 

You now understand why we benefit from a sunny day. There are a few ways we can deal with these issues:

  • Use a wide-angle/fish-eye lens to get as close to your subject as possible without compromising what you want in the frame; that way we lessen distortion from unwanted items.
  • You could use strobes to light up areas, but remember, if the water has a lot of debris, the light from your strobe will hit those tiny particles before reaching your subject. (That’s why, as far as possible, you should make use of the rays of light shining through.)

And remember – you can do a lot more in post editing.

 

Think about how you want to frame your photo to capture the most detail in your aquascapes. You want to create a feeling of greatness and immensity. Use boulders, drop-offs or even fish and people to show scale and add life, movement and emotion to your image. If you wish to add more to your photo of an underwater species make use of the colours and structures of the aquascape to help you enhance your subject.

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