Underwater Photography Tips

In the year 1926, the hogfish taking its daily swim through the azure waters off the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico, would never have imagined that it would be captured on camera and would also be framed in the first underwater color photograph ever available. Dr. William Longley and Charles Martin (National Geographic staff photographer) used their cameras encased in waterproof materials to start a phenomenon, they could never have imagined.

Underwater photography is about unveiling a world that exists beneath the deep seas. To master this art, one would need to be an excellent swimmer and know the latest deep-sea diving techniques. It requires the use of special photography equipment and also an eye for detail. It offers numerous challenges and provides a whole new world of opportunities to the photographer. Apart from being highly skilled in swimming, an underwater photographer must also be mentally prepared to face all the challenges he/she faces in the deep waters. Unavoidable natural circumstances may occur wherein the photographer may have to rely on his instinct and attitude to squirm out of a tricky situation.

For this kind of photography, one must always remember that the medium the light travels through is not air, but water. The main thing to watch out for by an underwater photographer is to maintain the balance of color and contrast. The subjects available can vary from the marine life to coral reefs, underwater caves, and shipwrecks. Every plunge in the roaring waves will reveal new subjects and landscapes to capture.

You would also require the latest equipment. The cameras should primarily have the sea mode, land mode, and also an external flash mode. This is essential to obtain better quality pictures even in the most adverse conditions. One of the most difficult aspects of this type of photography remains the use of the flash. The photographer has to achieve the right balance between natural light and the use of flash. Modern cameras have tried to implement new techniques to simplify this process, as natural light and visibility are often limited.

Underwater digital cameras also have built in features for color correction filters and flash diffusers and they are also equipped with complete storage and image editing software. This adds to the sophistication of the camera and also makes them easy to manipulate as per the situation.

The ones available today are completely high tech and are used not only for personal reasons but also for exploring, monitoring swim areas, and fishing and also for documenting shipwrecks. Today, we also have offshore trolling cameras. These have been designed specially for the videographers and fishermen.

Underwater photography has its own limitations in terms of the conditions the photographer has to face. But the true skill of the photographer solely remains in his/her ability to overcome these problems and shoot his/her best frame ever.

Basic Tips and Ideas

When you dive into the ocean, ensure you do it sans your camera. Diving with your camera will easily flood the camera with water. Therefore always procure or pass the equipment (once you are in the water) to another person on the boat.

Do not drag your equipment once you are in the deep waters. This may cause damage to the marine life.

Use an upward angle of the camera to obtain dramatic results.

Be constantly aware of all the dive gear that may float before your lens.

Ensure you use the empty space for text or graphics that can be added on, later.

The best time to take the plunge is around midday. The sun being overhead would illuminate the subjects underwater.

The underwater world changes often at the very blink of an eye. Perhaps this is what fascinates people all over and they overlook the risk factors and dive into the depth of the oceans. The vivid colors, the dangers lurking around the corner, the peace and the tranquility, all add to the mystery and aura of the underwater life. No prizes for guessing why this remains to be one of the most popular forms of photography even today

Portrait Photography Tips

You need not be an expert or professional at portrait photography to click a stunning portrait of your subject. A portrait can be defined as a person’s similitude. Though the definition is very simple, the portrait in itself has a deeper meaning. A portrait can capture the features, character or nature of the subject.

A great portrait is the one that reflects the uniqueness of the subject along with the “wow” factor. Now, if you are new at portrait photography, then keep in mind that there are simply no rules for capturing portraits.
How to Capture Stunning Portraits

Tools of The Trade

The very important tool that you require to create a wonderful portrait is a camera Search on the Internet or visit a nearby store to make yourself aware of the cameras available. Digital cameras make some of the best cameras to be used for portrait photography. They are easy to work with when compared with film cameras, due to their versatile nature and accuracy. Certain features of such cameras help to enhance the beauty of the portrait. Avail a good deal on a tripod while you’re at it.

Background

Decide the background or location where you want your subject to pose for the portrait. You can go for an outdoor or a studio portrait photography. Whatever location you choose, a plain background is usually a good option. This is a very important factor that will decide how good the portrait will result.
See that the location is not distracting. A distracting background may reduce the focus on your subject. Choose the background that will blend well with the physical features of the subject. You can use blurring effects to hide a distracting background. This will bring more focus on your subject.

Eye Contact

Eye contact or the direction of the eyes of the subject plays a significant role in snapping portraits. A different eye direction can bring great impact on the portrait. You can make your subject look at another subject within the frame, or you ask the subject look outside the frame as if the subject’s attention is towards something that is out of the focus of the camera lens. Else you can also make the subject look straight into the camera lens.

Lighting

One more important factor that decides the fate of the portrait is lighting. Natural daylight gives best results for portrait photography. You can experiment in innovative manners for different lighting effects. Shadow effects by introducing obstructions between the light source and the subject can give spectacular results. You cannot always rely on natural light and hence, many a time you may require to take help of artificial lights, in order to give better effects to the portrait.

The Perfect Shot

Catching the exact expression of the subject is a must for a beautiful portrait. Ensure that you make your subject comfortable throughout the session. The portrait should look natural and not artificial. Smile is not just an expression that you can capture in a portrait. Experiment with your subject’s expression, mood and come up with a unique style of the subject.

Take clicks with different angles and not in just horizontal and vertical directions. If the subject feels it uncomfortable to pose, take help of some props. This will help to make the portrait look more natural. See that you make a clever choice of props. The color combination of the prop and that of the subject’s outfit should compliment each other.
The basic tip for capturing a portrait is to keep it simple and natural and you will end up capturing a wonderful portrait. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your camera and shoot the best portrait you can.

Angle Shot in Photography

The Dutch angle is one of the photography/cinematography techniques in which all you have to do is tilt the camera for a different angle while clicking a picture.

The term can be defined as – a shot where the horizontal line of the object is not parallel with the bottom of the frame, whereas the vertical lines form an angle with the sides of the frame. This technique has many interesting stories about the names it has got. It is called a Dutch tilt, canted angle, oblique angle, or a German angle.

Why a German angle if it’s Dutch, you ask? In German, the German language is called “Deutsch”, and this was the original name. As years passed, the name was misspelled and ‘Deutsch’ became ‘Dutch’. So, this angle comes from Germany and it has been used since 1920.

The German directors used this technique when the Expressionist movement came in. As years passed, it came into Hollywood and was used in horror films. Many directors like Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Billy Wilder, etc., have used this technique and we all see the great outcome of it.

With this short history, let’s move on to how and why it is done. You can have a look at the photo gallery below and move on to understand the concept better.

What is Dutch Angle?

You must have already got a fair idea from the definition and the images presented above, so let’s move on to the finer details. First, understand why we take a straight picture. We match the lines with the frame to get the perfect straight picture. A horizontal line indicates stability and the vertical line indicates the right angle. This method focuses on considering the diagonals, instead of the straight lines. This will help to show the drama of the moment to a greater extent. You just have to tilt the camera in an appropriate angle, decide the composition, and focus!

Purpose

  • The main purpose of this angle in films or photographs is to show instability or tension of some kind. Not only that, it is used to show funny or light-hearted scenes too, which proves that it all depends on your creativity.
  • Another use of this shot is that it gives ample space. You can fit in extravagant heights just by tilting the camera. It gives you a wider perspective like a wide-angle lens.
  • The Dutch angle is also often used in automobile photography. This is done to give the showroom (static) car a more appealing look.

How to Use Dutch Angle

  • In movies, a special axis head is used to utilize the Dutch angle. The shot can be still or some panning and zooming can be done.
  • You are free to do variations in this angle, like starting with a normal angle and then shifting to the Dutch angle or maybe starting from one side and then reaching the other side.
  • In photography, find an appropriate acute or obtuse angle. This will give it some creativity.

Some Tips

  • Think about how a tilted angle will affect the lighting. Make a fair guess and then shoot the object.
  • While shooting a Dutch tilt, make sure that you shoot the same scene in the normal angle. This way, you will have a backup if that angle doesn’t seem appropriate, and in the end, you can choose which one looks the best.
  • This type has gained appreciation as well as criticism; hence, take care to not overdo it. Remember, a Dutch angle can create a great impact if used properly, or will get you criticism.

    The Dutch angle is just one of the techniques which makes an image visually aesthetic. Learn the other essential things as much as you can, and practice. Last but not the least, it is YOUR photography and you have the freedom to do it the way you like. Remember, you may not get the perfect shot at the first attempt, but click, click, and click. Practice, and in no time, you’ll reach your goal.

Creative Digital Photography Project

Everyone is an amateur photographer. With digital camera becoming cheaper and camera-enabled mobile phones giving better quality, it is extremely easy for a person to indulge in the hobby of photography. If you also would like to better your photography skills, then one way to do so would be to take up a photography project. There are many different ideas that you can choose from. In this article, we give you some of these ideas that you can use.

Digital Photography Projects

Coming up with ideas for a photography project can be at times cumbersome because most ideas that you come up with can seem repetitive and overdone. But you need to think differently. In order to create gorgeous images, you do not need unique subjects but a unique approach. Even the simplest of things can look extraordinary if you have the right vision. The ideas given in this article will hopefully help you capture images testament to that.

Intrigue in Nature

You do not have to be a great photographer to recognize the beauty that is in front on your eyes. There are some images that always intrigue and force you to think. How many times have you looked up at the sky and spotted various recognizable shapes in the clouds? On how many occasions have you looked at the spider weaving its web to admire the delicacy of it all? These are moments that are worth capturing on film. Sure, the concept has been used several times before and it will be used on many occasions in the future but every individual has a different way of looking at things and you will realize this in time and with patience.

Collections

What was your childhood hobby? Was it collecting rocks, stamps, or coins? Or did you have a more eclectic collection of matchboxes or coasters from different restaurants? If you know people who have worked on and built admirable collections of different things over the years, then ask them for permission to photograph the collections that they have created over the years. These can make for some amazing photographs. Create situations and place the collections in interesting positions to make the images more engaging. If you cannot find enough collections, then haunt flea markets to photograph different interesting shops that have been set up with delightful curios.

After Dark

Night photography can be challenging and rejuvenating all at once. Even the most experienced of photographers can face problems when it comes to clicking photos at night, thanks to the lighting issues at hand. But some of the best and most beautiful photos are clicked at night, and you should be able to capture some unique images at night. Do not restrict yourself to scenic landscapes. Cities with their mind-numbingly fast traffic can make for some great images. Play around with the shutter speed and you could capture some images that are synonymous with the way of the city.

The Emotive Face

Portrait photography is personal and truly a window into what a person is feeling and thinking. A portrait can reveal more about a person than what they say. Capturing different facial expressions can be a great photography project. Of course, with portrait photography it is important that you take a person’s permission before clicking a photograph. Use a model to pose for you and ask him or her to express different emotions. Use lighting and image sizes to create differentiation in the photographs.

365 Days

Normally when people talk about 365 days photography projects, they are talking about taking self portraits every single day for the next one year. But this is an idea with a twist. What you could do is pick out a place that you love, like the neighborhood park bench, and take photographs of the events that happen there and the people who come and sit there, everyday for the next 365 days. It could be the start of a brilliant photography collection.

Tips to Focus Your Camera in the Dark

A photograph is essentially a map of light. When you take a picture, you’re actually drawing up a recording of the light reflecting off the photographed object.

Shooting in the dark, without knowing where exactly to focus, can be quite a task. Shooting aimlessly would be the possible solution, but you might end up with a few dozen goofed-up pictures, especially when it involves taking portraits. Using the auto focus mode is literally of no use in the dark, for there is no light that will guide you towards your object. The best solution here, is to use the manual mode to lock your focus into the frame and then shoot.

Low light photography, and night photography for that matter, is all about trusting your instincts to get the best out of the little illumination available. The only way you can ensure a quality picture, is by keeping the shutter open for as long as possible. Remember, night photography or low light photography is about depth and dimension. It would be beneficial to avoid using the flash constantly, and ruin the photograph.

Turn Off Auto Focus

First things, first: turn off your camera’s auto focus feature. Use the manual mode to focus on your subject. The main reason to do this is because firstly, there is hardly any light for your lens to find what you want to set your focus on. And secondly, finding your focus in manual mode is relatively easier. Do remember to change the settings to manual mode, to avoid kicking the camera into auto focus at the wrong moment by accidentally pressing the shutter button.

Use Flash Pulse to Track The Focus

Flash pulse is nothing but a brief burst of light to help you find your subject in low light and night settings. The exposure time in this case exceeds the amount of flash captured by the camera. Press the shutter half-way to flicker the flash, thus illuminating the subject enough for you to focus. Remember to change the setting back to manual mode and turn off the flash, and click the perfect picture.

Use the Infinity Mode for Distant Subjects

Your camera comes with an infinity setting (the figure ‘8’ lying on its side) that allows you to focus on distant subjects. Using the infinity mode, you can set the focus on a distant source of light, thereby allowing you to find your subject easily. If you are planning to photograph the beauty of the night sky, it would be wise to use this setting, as it can automatically focus on bright objects like planets and stars.

Use Glow Sticks to Illuminate

Glow sticks or flashlights help to illuminate the subject, thus helping you to focus in low light and night settings. You cannot use this technique if your subject is relatively far away, but you can definitely use it for subjects that are in proximity to you and your camera. Once you set your focus, do remember to switch off the flash light. If need be, you can focus on your subject from a distance, thus throwing light on the subject to lend a different dimension to the picture.

Using an Infrared Beam
The IR assist beam in an autofocus camera switches on for a couple of seconds, allowing you to focus, and then switches off automatically, when your focus is fixed. Remember to purchase one for yourself, and to keep it handy in such situations. Hit your subject with the beam of light, and focus on your subject, then turn off the light and shoot your picture.

Keep Steady

Night photography can be tricky, you can fidget with the settings and yet end up with a soft photograph. To avoid this, ensure you mount your camera onto a tripod, and place it on a sturdy, flat surface. After it is set, ensure you do not topple or touch the tripod in any way.
Last but not the least, do remember to use a lens with a long focal length, if you want to focus on distant objects. In addition to that, taking high ISO images will help you confirm your focus. You can use tapes around the rings once you have focused the lens to avoid unexpected changes.