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Article: Underwater photography - what to consider?

Unterwasserfotografie – was gilt es zu beachten?

Underwater photography - what to consider?

For people who like to experience the completely different, fascinating world under water, it is often a need to want to take the special and magical impressions from there and share them with others. A trip to dive or snorkel is an unforgettable experience.

However, in order to remember all the great moments afterwards and not mainly unsuccessful photos, there are a few things to keep in mind. With a little practice and a lot of enthusiasm, the special challenges that underwater photography poses for the camera and photographer can be quickly mastered. The incredible images that can be snapped among corals, clownfish and sea turtles will make all the effort of learning forgotten in no time.

Sophisticated equipment

Taking pictures underwater poses its own unique challenges for the necessary photographic equipment. First and foremost, it must be absolutely waterproof. When it comes to cameras, there are a few different options for underwater photography. Professionals usually take their clear, colorful, dazzling pictures with SLR or system cameras, but their waterproof versions are usually completely unaffordable for amateur photographers. Special underwater cameras, on the other hand, can be had for a small price, but here you have to reckon with a high level of image noise and often only a few details are recognizable. In addition, the options of formats in which the images can be saved here are often limited, which makes post-processing difficult.

You can also find the right camera bag for your equipment and everything you need to protect your camera here in the Oberwerth Shop.. From classic camera bags modern sling bags up to noble photo-beachers and backpacks. Of course you will also find hand straps and shoulder straps. Finest craftsmanship from the best materials. Feel free to look around and find the bags & accessories that best suit you and your equipment!

Probably the most popular camera among outdoor enthusiasts and scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts are action cameras like the small, angular GoPro. These handy, lightweight cameras can be worn comfortably on your head like a headlamp, allowing you to take photos safely and conveniently during your underwater experience. Action cameras can be used in a variety of ways and are also popular on motorcycle helmets for shooting road movies, as they are built extremely sturdy. The disadvantage of this camera is that it often has no display or only a very small one, so you have to shoot blind.

In addition to the right camera, the most important thing is a waterproof housing or a special cover. This is especially true in salt water, even for cameras that are already waterproof in their design. If you want to take photos comfortably and, above all, without shaking, you should also invest in a sturdy handle for the camera. Such grips, which are specially designed for underwater photography, can often be found in outdoor stores, where you can also get fins and a good snorkeling mask. Here you can also get the special UV-protective clothing, which you should wear especially when snorkeling just below the water surface.

If you want to plunge deeper into the waters and take pictures on a dive, you should also get a red filter for your camera. This small filter, which can be easily attached to the front of the camera body, is very useful from a few meters depth. Since the special properties of salt water mean that hardly any red light penetrates into the depths, the images without a red filter often look greenish or bluish. The light intensity also decreases dramatically with every meter of depth in the sea. Therefore, you should definitely have an external light source with you, with which you can illuminate the motifs well. A special dive light that can be attached to the camera is often a good choice here.
Underwater, of course, you want to carry as little as possible, but having a backup battery and extra memory card available out of the water can provide additional peace of mind. The special Oberwerth Hydro Line camera bags are a great choice for safely transporting your equipment to the field. They are water repellent and are especially suitable for traveling on a boat where splashes may occur or for traveling in tropical areas during the rainy season.

Well adjusted is half the battle

Once you have found the right camera for your adventure in the underwater world, you should consider the appropriate camera settings. Since taking photos underwater requires a lot of attention, you should familiarize yourself well with the camera in advance. For underwater photos, it is best to choose the focal length of the lens as wide-angled as possible in order to capture the largest possible section of the image. The shutter speed should be fast (about 1/125 second or higher) to avoid camera shake despite constant movement underwater.

For the aperture, a value of f/4 is well suited to achieve a good depth of field with sufficient light intensity. The ISO value should be kept as low as possible, for example 200 or 400 in high light and 800 in darker environments. It is advisable to always save the images in RAW format in order to have greater creative leeway when subsequently post-processing the images.

Challenges in the medium of water

One of the biggest challenges of underwater photography is the physical environment itself. Not only does photographing underwater require specialized equipment such as underwater cameras, housings, lighting, and accessories, which tend to be more expensive than equipment used for photography on land. In addition, underwater photography is often physically demanding and a good understanding of diving techniques and safety are required. Beginners should not attempt photography on a dive at greater depths until they have gained some experience snorkeling just below the surface.

Another challenge is the underwater lighting conditions. Colors and contrasts change depending on depth, distance to the subject and water turbidity. Therefore, to take high-quality underwater photos, you must have a good understanding of lighting techniques and use the right equipment. In addition, turbid water and sediment can make photos look gray and obscure the subject. Therefore, to take photos, you should prefer places with clear water and little swell. To avoid stirring up the disturbing sediments yourself, you should avoid touching the seabed.

In the special medium of water and especially the endangered habitat of coral reefs, where you can take the most beautiful underwater pictures, it is imperative to treat the sensitive ecosystem respectfully and carefully. This includes, for example, a reef-friendly sunscreen that, unlike most commercial creams, has no negative effects on corals. In addition, you should not touch everything that interests you, because there are many sensitive and also some dangerous life forms in the fascinating and alien aquatic world. You can inform yourself about the correct behavior under water, possible dangers and possibly endangered species before the trip.

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