Matty Smith: In Two Worlds

MORNING STAR I shot this image at Lissenung Island, Papua New Guinea, a few years ago for the island dive I owe my career to this humble little stinger. My images of these thumb-sized siphonophores have graced city billboards to advertise cameras, been plastered on the sides of buses to spread the word of London […]

Physalia physalis also known as the man-of-war

Beyond Black

OUR UNDERWATER WORLD IS FULL OF VIBRANT COLORS, interesting patterns and textures, and fascinating creatures. It’s a wild place that is unpredictable and simultaneously harsh and harmonious. Taking a camera into that world allows us to record snippets of beauty in ways that help us tell various stories. Learning to use your camera effectively takes […]

colorful sealife

Mike Bartick: Blackwater Beckons

My catering business in California was going well, but the more it grew, the more I was stressed and wanted to be underwater. Diving and photography were cathartic, and I kept coming back to Anilao in my mind.

Snapping Turtles

THE ANCESTORS OF MODERN SEA TURTLES shared the oceans with ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs during the late Jurassic period 150 million years ago. Their descendants now inhabit reefs and oceans around the world.

Aw Inspired

Michael Aw’s early life while growing up in Singapore — he didn’t see the ocean until age 17 — gave few clues that he would one day become one of the most influential print journalists in destination diving and ocean conservation. The author of or major contributor to 43 books, Aw created Ocean Geographic magazine in 2007 and also leads expeditions, often to exotic regions. He now hopes to raise awareness of the folly of shark-finning and the overexploitation of our marine resources.

Models and Marine Life

Underwater photographers usually evolve a specialty, but the first fork in their road typically involves defining an interest in either photographing natural history — marine life in particular — or concentrating on editorial and commercial work that inevitably involves photographing people underwater. Photos of charismatic marine life help tell the story of a dive destination or might be used for photo décor or stock photography. Compositions that illustrate people interacting with marine life bridge both disciplines and combine each approach’s rewards and challenges.

Cristina Mittermeier Photo Gallery

After reading the Shooter column “Cristina Mittermeier: Commitment to Conservation,” view this additional photo gallery of her work.

Shooting in a Turbid Environment

Turbid water can be a challenging environment for underwater photographers, particularly when shooting wide angle. Turbid water may not appear brown or green from the surface — in many cases the water looks entirely different once we drop in and begin the dive. All water is turbid to some degree. Understanding what causes turbidity and knowing how to work around it can make a world of difference when shooting in those conditions. One of the best skills a photographer can develop, particularly for shooting wide angle, is learning how to read water quality.

Photography in the Plimsoll Interface

Underwater photographers sometimes refer to the narrow water zone where a subject splits the surface as the Plimsoll interface. Opportunities abound here for dynamic shots achieved by angling the camera above or below the waterline. The dedicated and creative underwater photographer can capture traditional over-under split shots with a standard straight meniscus and dramatic reflections from below of the subject, the sunlight or both as part of a modified split shot or a fully underwater picture.

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