“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
When did you first learn about underwater photography? did you first realize you liked this topic?
I was first attracted to underwater photography a few years ago, when I saw the work of Lia Barrett online. She works with a family friend of mine and I was blown away by her images. I don’t think I even owned a camera back then but once I got on Instagram last fall, I started seeing underwater images and thought it would be amazing to try it. I also took Summer Murdock’s Magic of Light class and her underwater photography definitely got me researching what type of housing I could purchase for my own camera.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning, in your journey or figuring underwater photography?
I just started underwater photography mid-July, so I’m still learning something new every time I get in the water. I have been using my brother-in-law’s GoPro Hero 4 and I purchased a dome attachment for it. Figuring out the best settings has been a huge challenge for me since you can’t really control the shutter speed and ISO. I did turn on the Protune feature, which gives me some control. But the biggest issue so far has been water clarity. It makes such a difference as to whether your subject is sharp or not. And clean, clear water gives you more options for editing. The light and time of day is also very important since I am using a GoPro. I can shoot on a cloudy day, but the sunlight (or underwater pool lights at night) makes a much more dynamic photo. I just did a shoot at sunset and it was amazing because I was able to get sun haze and major flare, which I’ve never done before. So I’m definitely still learning!
Why are you passionate about this topic?
It’s just really fun to let go and see what you can capture underwater. There’s a freedom to it because I don’t have to tell anyone what to do. I just play with my son and take a lot of photos. He has finally started swimming on his own and it’s his favorite thing to do, so capturing his joy gives me tremendous pride. I love documenting him on his journey and he loves to see the photos I take, which has driven my passion even more. He is also an amazing subject because he doesn’t blow out bubbles and he swims with his eyes open.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve underwater photography?
Just go for it! It’s really fun. You will need to lay flat so your feet aren’t in the shot and wear goggles (even though you can’t always see what you’re shooting if it’s really sunny). Also be aware of your light source and use it to your advantage. Backlighting is hard for me with the limitations of the GoPro, so I usually place subjects looking towards the light. You also need to be closer to your subject than you think – especially with the dome attachment. Editing is where the magic happens. I use a lot of contrast, clarity and some dehaze in Lightroom and then take it over to Photoshop for the skin tone corrections. Clean, clear water is also much easier to edit than cloudy water. But you can get a beautiful ethereal effect from cloudy water as well. I do prefer a moody, dramatic edit, which takes time to do on my computer. But I also really like documentary style photos and so I always edit some of my underwater photos close to the SOOC. They don’t have as much drama, but they capture the connection between my son and me. So many options, just enjoy it!
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