So you’ve booked your next trip and you’re keen to take some memorable underwater photographs….
I’ve put together 5 tips for underwater travel photographers to help you get the best out of your photo trip:
Don’t get caught with your pants down!
Supposing that your photography trip involves a tour of some description (think live aboard dive boat, cruise or four wheel drive tour of the outback) don’t get caught with out a camera! When flying I always make sure I have at least a basic setup in my inflight carry on, it’s a camera body, water housing, favourite lens and one underwater light, don’t check it ALL in! Most tours run to tight schedules and won’t wait for you or your missing baggage. On the off chance your check in luggage doesn’t show up, dive gear can be hired on location and a change of clothes is highly overrated. But cameras are a must!! Better still book your flights to arrive a couple of days in advance and spend the time soaking in the local sights, this gives you a buffer to wait for missing bags to arrive.
You should have been here last week!!
A lot of nature’s great events are very seasonal, sometimes even timed to the week, day or moon phase. Do your homework before booking a trip to make sure you nail the timing. After all, there’s no point in turning up for the famous Whyalla giant cuttlefish aggregation in November, you’ll go home very disappointed, it’s in June.
Way before stepping on a plane you should be planning on how you want to shoot. Google image searches on the location and researching photographers that have been there before you is a good start. It will give you an insight into the “must have, me too!” shots but is also a great inspirational starting point to plan your unique and creative work. Have a plan, don’t turn up and hope for the best.
Very rarely do great photos just happen by luck and the same goes underwater. Many locations look great for less than half an hour per day, when the sunlight is in just the right spot, which isn’t always just sunset or sunrise. Famous shots of underwater caves such as Leru Cut in the Solomons, Antelope Canyon in Arizona or some city backstreet between the high rises all have photographic windows of opportunity that last just minutes, you HAVE to be there then! Local knowledge is gold so get on the emails ahead of time or start asking around on arrival. The devil’s in the detail, or light in this case.
When booking a tour, try to book with an operator geared to towards photography trips. They will be a lot more patient with you and it is their goal to make sure you go home with shots, they’ll also help you with the above 4 tips. If you book with any other type of operator prepare to be frustrated as you’re herded around like cattle, missing all the good shots. This goes for the diving industry too!
2 x Nikon D850 bodies
Nikon 8-15mm F3.5-4.5 E ED
Nikon 16-35mm F4 VRII (fav and most versatile lens underwater, this one goes in my carry on luggage)
Nikon 60mm F2.8 Micro
Nikon 105mm F2.5 Micro
Nikon 50mm F1.8
Nikon 70-200mm F2.8
Aquatica Digital Waterproof Camera Housing