How to take beautiful underwater photos

Leah reef images

You’re going to be seeing a lot more beautiful underwater images like this one on our blog – that’s because Leah and Chris, Dunia Baru’s cruise directors, are accomplished underwater photographers and will be sharing some of their images here.

Leah started to dive when she was working on sailboats on the Great Barrier Reef. “I became hooked instantly,” she says, and while she loves coral reefs and big fish, her favorite is muck diving, when there’s lots of dark sand and interesting little critters. She’s had so many phenomenal underwater experiences over the years but her highlight, she says, was probably diving with the whalesharks of Cendrawasih Bay. “Another highlight was the first time I dived in Lembeh Straight, which I recall as one of the best weeks of my life. Plus the manta rays of Raja Ampat around peak time… it’s all so good!”

Leah started to shoot underwater six years ago, and her images are exquisite. We asked her for a few tips that’d help beginners shoot photos they’ll be proud of:

1/ Speak to an expert

There is an amazing range of both SLR and point-and-shoot cameras that have underwater set-ups. I would recommend contacting underwater photographic specialists Backscatter for advice on equipment – nobody knows more about gear than they do.

2/ Seek advice on the right set-up for you

The right set up is different for everyone, depending on what you want to use it for. I shoot with a Hugyfot DSLR housing for D200 (chose the housing for the small, rounded shape… in previous jobs, when I was shooting three dives a day, five days a week, the heavy, boxy housings resulted in serious hand cramps!). I also use Ikelite DS160 strobes, which are cumbersome and heavy, but pack a really hard punch – excellent light coverage, and especially good for wide angle.

3/ Get closer

If you think you are closer enough to your subject – get closer.  Then when you are sure you are close enough – get closer.  Then get closer again.

4/ Master buoyancy first

You will never take good pictures unless you are able to get in nice and close without damaging the reef. So master buoyancy before you pick up a camera.

5/ Learn from someone

Find yourself an excellent and devoted teacher, like Chris.  Ideally, fall in love with that person – then they will let you use all their lenses and camera toys, too!

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