Ever been baffled on how underwater photographers snap the
most minute creatures in such magnificent detail? Perhaps wondered
whether the winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year were
carefully planned or super lucky (or both!)? Us too, so we
interviewed professional underwater photographer Saeed Rashid for
his top underwater photography tips for beginner

hermit crab

1. Keep Your Critters Close

It might sound obvious but one of the best tips for capturing
the perfect shot is to get closer. While this might be easy with
stationary subjects, with timid fish remember to take your time,
watch your surroundings and never poke, prod or harass your subject
to get them closer to your lens. We are guests in their world and
there should be no shortage of subjects on the reef.

whip coral shrimp

2. Behavioural Instincts

Talk to most dive guides and they will tell you that they rarely
look for the subjects themselves but the habitat in which they
live. Some critters, like the ‘Shaun the Sheep’ nudibranch or a
whip coral shrimp, can be so small they appear as a tiny dot but if
you know the type of places to look you can find these amazing
critters. Grab yourself a magnifying glass and keep it in your BCD
pocket as it will significantly aid your search for some of the
smaller subjects in the sea.


3. A Lightbulb Moment

Artificial lighting – the use of strobes (flashes) and
occasionally continuous lights (torches) – is important for
photographing the smaller fish and critters on the reef. Spend time
practicing in a swimming pool before you get out on the reef and
when you do take a photo check it out on the camera screen, zooming
into the corners just to make sure you have them positioned
correctly. Remember, with lights you can get a big difference with
only a small change so adjust settings a little at a time.


4. Think Composition

Try and make something in your photograph the focal point. This
could be a fan coral on a wall, the eye of a fish or even your
buddy – this will add interest and really help your image ‘pop’.
See if you can add depth to your composition by shooting along a
reef or blurring the background. Many people will tell you to fill
the frame with the subject but a clever use of so-called negative
space can be just as powerful.

5. Never Shoot Down, Except…

When I teach new underwater photographers, I often talk about
getting ‘clean water’ behind your subject. The best way to do this
is to get down below or at least eye level with your subject. For
me, the only time you break this rule is when you’re photographing
something that has an attractive back such as a turtle, shark or


6.A Beautiful Backdrop

Even when you are photographing the most colourful and exciting
subjects a messy background can ruin your photograph. Experienced
photographers often look for background first then search for a
foreground subject to add interest. I will often follow a fish in
my viewfinder and only press the shutter when it ventures to a more
photogenic location.

Want to perfect your photography skills on your next
diving holiday?
Get in touch
with one of our team to discover

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