A little while ago, we presented a basic understanding of underwater photography and some of the concepts you need to follow when shooting in Davy Jones' locker. Now, we got our hands wet, well, our camera wet and learned a little bit more about the process just by doing it. I used a Flip Ultra HD camera and its corresponding Ikelite housing, and of course, a lot of fun shooting. Note that you have to be a certified scuba diver to start playing with underwater photography and videography, as well as you should have good bouyancy control.
The camera and housing I used
For starters, make sure your housing for your camera actually works. Before you take it out for the big shots, test it at home in a bucket of water without the camera in it. Then with the camera in it. Some brands like Ikelite can be trusted without testing (I didn't test my Ikelite housing, which technically is a mistake). The most important part of your housing is the O-ring. This is what actually seals the housing. Leaky O-rings are no good, and it's recommended to replace them every couple of years. It's also important to keep O-rings well lubricated with silicone lube. When your housing is ready and you use it in the deep blue, it's important to wash it with fresh water as soon as possible, especially in the little nooks and crannies where salt deposits can cause abrasion. It's also important not to wash the inside, because if there is even half a speck of water that doesn't dry up, you will have humidity in your housing underwater and your lens will get fogged up. Your camera could also potentially get ruined. Check this video out with a fogged up lens. This was later fixed by placing a piece of dry tissue in the housing to absorb all the moisture, but silica packets can also be used for this purpose.
A typical Ikelite O-ring
When choosing your housing, you need to think about whether you want a housing that is positively bouyant (one that floats) or negatively bouyant (one that sinks). This is because, on the odd chance you lose your camera while you're diving, depending on your search and recovery skills, you can choose whether it will be easier to look for your camera on the surface or on the ocean floor. Usually, cases are positively bouyant but it's important that you ascend carefully when looking for a lost camera or your lungs could over expand.
Light Changes Underwater
As you can imagine, shots taken underwater will primarily be blue. This is because at about 10 meters, you've already lost the red and orange part of the colour spectrum and you progressively lose more of the colour spectrum the deeper you go. For instance, at 28 meters down, you'll even lose yellows as seen in this video.
The Ikelite housing with red filter
The way to over come this is either by having a strobe light or a lens filter.The underwater housing I bought came with an attachable red lens filter. At about 18 meters, the filter really makes the colours pop and a bit deeper down to about 26 meters, it becomes a challenge again to pick up red. Note the reds in this video shot at 26 meters. They can be seen but are still muted.
If you use the red filter near the surface, your shots will have a reddish tint. Note the colours of the jellyfish with the reddish tint. They're usually transparent with a purple tint.
Shooting with a strobe has its advantages and disadvantages. For one advantage, they tend to give you the true natural colour of what you're shooting because they emit white light. However, the downside is that they are huge battery suckers. Most strobes last about 30 to 40 minutes on battery. Furthermore, they tend to overheat on land, so you can only turn them on when underwater. The slight chance they overheat, they're unsuable on that excursion.
You can get both double and single strobes
Welcome to the actual challenge of shooting underwater. It's obviously a little difficult to keep completely still underwater. And the first time you shoot video, it's highly likely you're going to get so excited to shoot everything in sight that your footage looks quite like the inside of a washing machine (mine definitely did). As you shoot more though, you'll get the hang of it, not to say you'll be less excited. One thing that helps is allowing yourself to go with the current and minimize finning as you shoot.
In conclusion, you can have some pretty stunning memories if you get the hang of underwater videography. Many diving certification programs like PADI have underwater photography and underwater videography as advanced courses. However, remember also to look at the marine life with your own eyes and be a safe diver.