The Wider View

To complement my colleague Phil’s ongoing series of articles on macro shooting , I’ve decided to follow suit and show the other end of the scale that us underwater photographers indulge in with a short series of three posts looking at how we utilise our wide-angle lenses to illustrate our aquatic excursions, that really should be the name of a 70’s prog rock band!

 

So first i’m going to dive in, i’m on fire today LOL, and briefly talk about why we use wide angles and then start off the series with a look at classic wide angle reef shots.

With the second blog being about using wide angle lenses to shoot wrecks, and then finally the last third of this mini series looking at using your wide-angle lens to shoot closer up pictures.

 

 

 

Why wide?

 

Phil has done an excellent series of articles on our site about what to consider when selecting and buying a camera for underwater photography, where he goes into greater detail than I am here more specifically about wide angle lenses so you can access those articles here. 

We really love very wide angle lenses, because they allow us to get much closer to our subjects, so if that subject is big like a wreck or a reef, then the distance between us and the subject is hugely reduced, which means that the pictures are clearer and sharper as a result.


This is because even the clearest water is much denser and has much more particulate in it than the air.


So it makes sense to have as little water between us and the subject.

So lenses considered quite extreme for topside shooting, like fisheye and super wide lenses, become the norm in any underwater photographers arsenal of kit.

And the good news is that if you buy the right camera for your underwater jaunts you’ll be able to use a fisheye or super wide lens on it.
All you have to do is ask, we’re always here to dish out help and advice.

  A typical wide angle reef shot, i’ve used a fisheye lens here to capture these fan corals at Ras Nusrani in Sharm el Sheikh in the Egyptian Red Sea

A typical wide angle reef shot, i’ve used a fisheye lens here to capture these fan corals at Ras Nusrani in Sharm el Sheikh in the Egyptian Red Sea

Here’s a typical add on wide angle lens for a compact camera, with compact cameras they fit on the outside of the underwater housing.

With a Mirrorless or DSLR camera you put the lens on the camera, and you’ll need a dome port to attach to the housing.

  A Fantasea wide angle lens for attaching to your compact camera, it almost doubles the field of view.

A Fantasea wide angle lens for attaching to your compact camera, it almost doubles the field of view.

How?

 

I’m assuming you’re fully tooled up with a either a wide angle attached to your compact or other camera rig now.
So i’m going to address what to shoot, but more importantly how to shoot.
It’s pretty straightforward what you’d like to achieve in underwater photography a lot of the time, and that is pictures that really represent our experience when we’re underwater, hopefully doing justice to the amazing things we see when we submerge.

Beginners though can often get a bit bewildered and disheartened, especially if they’ve spent a lot of money on a wide angle lens because someone like me has suggested that was a great idea.
And then their pictures aren’t automatically great when aforementioned lens is used.

The trick generally is to find something in the foreground of the shot that leads the eye into the picture, especially if it’s an overall reef scene, so

  Here i’ve used a fire coral with an orange Anthias topping, in the foreground of the shot to lead the eye into the frame, shot using just the available light, and showing some divers exploring a reef.

Here i’ve used a fire coral with an orange Anthias topping, in the foreground of the shot to lead the eye into the frame, shot using just the available light, and showing some divers exploring a reef.

something like a brain or fan coral or anything striking in the front of the shot.

To start with it’s easier all round if you’re in the shallows and there’s good light to shoot using the available light, without any additional lighting.

And these type of shots are always a great way to show your non diving friends how lovely it is to do what we do.

  The sort of shot that is easy to achieve with even a very simple point and shoot or action camera equipped with a wide angle lens, and using a fully automatic mode

The sort of shot that is easy to achieve with even a very simple point and shoot or action camera equipped with a wide angle lens, and using a fully automatic mode

Also relatively easy from a technical point of view, and one of the few scenarios where shooting in an automatic mode can work quite well.

Even works well with some action cameras too, so those of you with GoPro’s are in with a decent chance of bagging some great pics.

 

 

Summary

 

It’s easy to make a big difference to the overall quality of your underwater  pictures with a wide angle lens and it’s why most people on the learning curve of underwater photography will eventually realise why they really need one.

 

However to get the best from one you’ll need to get closer, and they do encourage you to do that.

A wider lens a really simple way to raise the bar with your shots, and one of the reasons that they don’t come up so often on the second hand market, is that people hang on to them, and they can often be used on a new camera so their initial expense can be very easily justified.

 

So next time, I’m going to look at how you can use them to improve your wreck photography pictures.

If you want more specific advice or have a suggestion for a blog subject feel free to get in touch, details on how to do this are on our contact page. Do the same if you'd like a quote for equipment or to book on one of our courses (dates are on our Events page). Anyone is welcome to join the Alphamarine Photography Q and A  Facebook group as long as you behave yourself and stick to the rules.

Check back soon.

Duxy