Water Photography Tips from Ben Hicks


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Shooting in and around the water is my all time favorite thing to do! I have been very fortunate to travel the world and do it for a living. Water gives off so many moods, from interesting reflections to beautiful nature scenes.

Gear
From $100 to $10,000. That’s pretty much the range in price you can spend on underwater camera gear. I shoot with SLR cameras in Aquatech underwater housings most of the time but also like to shoot with my iPhone. Yes, you heard me, my iPhone. There are housings that you can purchase for a few of the mobile phones out there.

These days mobile phone cameras have gotten better and better and its usually the “camera” we have on us at all times. Don’t get me wrong my SLR setup takes my most well known images and its flexibility allows me to handle a lot of situations, but at nearly $11k, the average Joe just can’t swing it. I use a Watershot Pro housing for my iPhone and can take some pretty rad images with it. But keep in mind, it’s not a case, it’s a housing, with a free app to go along with it.

Where?
Most people think you need to get scuba tanks and go deep to get the best images. All my images are taken within 20ft and most are at the surface or just below it. You don’t even need to go below the water to get interesting images. Breaking waves are always fun, even when they are very small. You don’t need to live by an ocean—lakes and rivers are also great places to capture interesting images of underwater images.

How?
Get close! Really close. The closer you are to your subject the clearer the images will turn out. Be sure to shoot with a wide lens in order to capture what you get close to. Then, shoot up at the sun and away from the sun—be sure to try many different angles. As with any new piece of equipment, be sure to test it out a bit before taking it out for the real thing. Always be sure to practice with your camera and housing out of the water first to learn where the buttons and functions are.

When underwater, use anti-fog for your mask! Not seeing what you’re doing is as annoying as it sounds. The best time to shoot is when the sun’s shining nice and bright—try to go without the flash as long as possible. And lastly, get to know how color works underwater. Learn how to use white balance (a tip—the color red gets a little lost underwater).

Travel!
Take your underwater gear to new places! I love shooting images with my iPhone in puddles, fountains, lakes, etc. The reflections you can get, create a whole new perspective.

Equipment Care
Always rinse your gear with clean fresh water before taking the camera out of the housing. The last thing you want is any salt water and sand getting into crevices you can’t clean out. Keep the seals and o-rings clean of sand, hair, dirt or any other debris. Use silicone to keep them from drying out. When you’re not in the water, store your housing in a case or bag to protect the ports from getting scratched.

Safety
There’s a few simple things to keep in mind when out in the big blue: always be aware of your surroundings; know your boundaries in and out of the water; dive, snorkel or swim with a buddy (plus it’s more fun!).

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