When you photograph small and amazing subjects at close range this is what traditionally called underwater macro photography, or close-up photography. A whole new world is revealed through a macro lens. Suddenly a local dive sites get a new charm and not before long you realise that any location nearly always hold a number of macro photography subjects.
Challenge your imagination
As a macro photographer you will suddenly see small scenes and new models on every dive site. It is your own imagination that is setting the limits for your macro photography more than anything else.
Crispy images in low visibility
You can take quality and crispy macro images even on a day with low visibility in the water. So reaching a dive site where conditions are less favourable you can simply mount on your macro lens, jump in and be happy. Night photography is often done with the macro lens on.
10 tips for better macro photography underwater
1. Close to the subject
Put on a macro lens on your mirrorless camera and a flat port on your housing and then you are ready to go. The most used macro lenses focal length range from 30 to around 100 mm depending on camera system. Compact camera users usually have a macro mode built into the compact camera. It is very easy to activate.
2. Boost your macro mode
By adding a wet macro lens you get a magnifying effect on the existing macro mode you already have. These wet macro lenses are extra lenses attached underwater in front your port or in the front of a compact camera housing. Various lenses have different amounts of magnification levels. Let us help you to choose the perfect wet macro lens for your camera.
3. Add strobe light
Underwater strobes are important tools when shooting macro and they add quality light to the subjects, and allow you to get more "depth of field". It is possible to add light by using a underwater torch or video light as well. Accessories used with a strobe or a light is: arms, clamps, floats, cables, triggers or optical TTL converters.
4. Focus & video light
To help your camera to focus in low light such as when subjects hide under a stone, or if you photograph in the afternoon or at night. It is good practise to always bring a focus light which also can also be used as a light source when shooting video. Important light features: overall power, how many power settings, colour temperature, beam angle, burn time, charging time and size.
5. Triggers & TTL converters
To start your external strobe, or strobes, it is best practice to use a "trigger" or a "TTL converter". These devices make it possible for you to fire a strobe many times in a quick sequence. A TTL converter is basically a trigger but it also enables you to shoot the strobe in auto mode. The TTL mode works great when doing macro photography underwater.
6. Good diving skills
Good macro photography is linked to good diving skills. You move around slowly to avoid stirring up the bottom. To be a responsible macro diver you need to take good care of the delicate environment around you. Correct trim, good buoyancy control, swimming backward skills, mental awareness of your surrounding are all important skills in macro photography.
7. Master ingredients in your image
To elevate your macro photography skills to higher levels you need to think about the different elements in your images. Light is along with the main subject is two important image features. Great composition is vital and strong backgrounds will enhance or complement your subject. To place the focus where you want it in the images takes some practise.
8. Moments & presentation
Let the camera hang low for a while and watch your subject. What is it doing, is it moving around, will it exhibit any behaviour, will there be a moment in the next five minutes? Anticipate and evaluate. Stay and shoot or move on. Magnus note: I take my best images when I am bored. The moment I feel there is nothing more to do then I know there is a chance I will do something interesting. This is the time when I push myself into creativity.
9. View finders & displays
The viewfinder or the display should be good enough to make us inspired. Generally it is easier to see exactly where the sharpness is set in a viewfinder compared to a display. Many UW housing manufacturers have produced extra magnifying viewfinders that are excellent tools for macro photography.
10. Finding the subjects
The best macro photographers find the coolest subjects and it is not a matter of luck. Do some research about the environment you are visiting, about what subjects you are able to find and where they tend to hang out. Local knowledge is the key to fast success. A great dive guide specialized in macro subjects surely helps. Be a bit picky as a good guide can take your subjects to another level.