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Underwater Photography: A good underwater picture of your dive buddy - is it an elusive quest?

I started taking underwater pictures in 2009, and like everyone else, thought it would be good to get a good picture of my dive buddy or buddies. And of course, having little clue what I was doing, ended up with an endless collection of blue pictures (see other blog post on this topic), blurry pictures, over or underexposed pictures. So in the end I had nothing.

Diver pictures are one of the areas we all want to be successful in, and also one of the hardest to get good results at.

So what is the run down on diver pics?

First, one cannot improvise the technique for solid diver pictures. It takes some learning in several areas of Underwater Photography as well as some practice, all of these taught and learnt in the PADI Digital Underwater course.

It all starts with basic portrait in good conditions: clear water, your dive buddy 3-4ft away, and a head or head and bust shot with or without direct flash. This is the easiest way to get a clean shot you can later use on social media or just to give your buddy.

In this picture, model is too far and the flash reflects particulates in the water:

PADI Adventure Diving
PADI Adventure Diving

In the above 2 pictures, being closer prevents backscatter and allows for a much more pleasant portrait.

PADI Adventure Diving

Moving to a little harder way: if conditions are good (clear water, good light, shallow depth), a full body shot is possible, either with no flash, or strobes set far to the side.

PADI Adventure Diving

There you have it, 2 good ways to get a good buddy picture.

Now, how about shots of divers over a reef or next to a marine creature? Of course, these can be very spectacular, and luckily not very difficult to achieve. The one thing to realize is that it is a balancing act with the light: either diver and reef are within reach of the same light source (strobe, sun, flash) in which case the picture will feature both on a blue background, or they are in different areas and both need proper lighting. In the example below, the reef is lit by strobes and the diver by natural light, so some adjustment was needed to get enough natural light to hit the camera sensor. This was achieved by a slow shutter speed.

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