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Shooting Marine Life

Want to get the best shots possible of sea turtles, jewfish, and other underwater creatures? Try these simple tips and techniques on your next dive.

1. Be Patient
When shooting marine life, remember that “patience is a virtue.” Put yourself in a spot that will ensure you get the shot you're after by scouting around and seeing where the fish, turtles, etc. are gathering. Then set yourself in that spot and let the marine life get used to you and your camera. Try test-firing your strobes a few times to help your subject get acclimated to the flash going off. Then wait for the shot to come.

2. Don't Chase the Animals
You are the intruder in their house, so never chase after moving marine life.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Shooting moving animals takes practice, so don’t be afraid to shoot more frames then you think you will possibly ever need, — it's tricky to catch focus when shooting underwater.

4. Control Your Shutter Speed
It will take a higher shutter speed to stop movement of the animals. If you are using a point and shoot camera such as a Stylus Tough, try using Sport Mode, as this will cause the camera to choose the highest shutter speed given the amount of light that you have. With a Digital SLR you can choose Sport Mode, or better yet, shutter priority, as this allows you to choose the shutter speed on the camera. Use 1/250 or higher to stop the action.

5. Use a Flash
An underwater flash like the UFL-1 or UFL-2 is a great tool for working with marine life as the strobe light freezes the action. A strobe also allows you to light your marine life separately from the water making for really dramatic photographs. In all of the example shots found on this page, a strobe was used to light the marine life. The ambient exposure was used to dramatize the water and surroundings. As you start to gain confidence that you are blending into the underwater environment, the images you capture will dramatically improve.

Featured Underwater Products

PT-E05 Underwater
Housing for the E-520

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The PT-E05 underwater case has been specially customized for the E-520 Digital SLR and is waterproof to a depth of 40 meters.


UFL-2 Underwater Flash

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The UFL-2 is a compact TTL underwater flash that is waterproof to a water pressure equivalent depth of 60 meters. It is specially designed for use with Olympus digital cameras and compatible underwater cases including the new PT-E06 for the E-620 Digital SLR. The flash is more powerful then the UFL-1, offering more versatility to the advanced underwater photographer. It features an RC mode that when used with the PT-E05 and PT-E06 allows the photographer to adjust the flash settings directly from the camera and view these settings on the camera LCD.