Underwater Photography

Advanced Open Water

Dive Five

The fifth of five open water adventure dives to pass the PADI Advanced Open Water Certification

Having perfected my buoyancy, I was ready for my first digital underwater photography dive. It was hard to contain my excitement! Underwater photography was my dream and now the time had come. My dive instructor for the Digital Underwater Photography dive was Bart Prinsen, an experienced and talented photographic diver who I was thrilled to be tutored by. I started off at the Dive College base learning good practices for underwater photography such a buying lots of smaller SD cards, instead of one large one (so if the camera floods, only one card is lost, not your entire collection of snaps) and how to prepare and check the camera, camera housing and seals before diving.  Bart explained the use of flash, white balance, using a wide-angle lens and how to depress the camera shutter in such a way that it focussed clearly, then took the shot.

Next, we were off to the nearby house reef to capture some images and practice the skills.  I took pictures of Bart close up; at one metre, five metres, and ten metres to see the difference in picture quality. Being ten metres away is the equivalent of being ten metres deep.  At ten metres, red is lost altogether from the light spectrum so often needs to be added back in to the photo during photo editing. We found a scarlet sea anemone to demonstrate the effect of light on red at depth. We practiced using with flash on and flash off in small caves, rocks and crevices.

I was in my element.  I simply LOVED taking the photos, it was exciting, rewarding and effortless snapping in clear blue water, surrounded by beautiful fish. Some of the fish were really curious and even seemed to enjoy being photographed. I watched them thoughtfully, noticing they did not attempt to swim or fight against the current, rather going with it effortlessly, allowing their bodies to gently rise and fall. It was an amazingly relaxing and joyful experience that I will never, ever forget. I felt like I’d finally discovered my passion. It was thrilling; the excitement of not knowing what fish would show up next, how they would look on film and whether I could capture them at all. There was the thrill of anticipating what was on the camera and relieving the dive all over again once I’d downloaded all the photos.

Back at the dive base and there were surprises for me on the SD card. I fully expected half chopped off bodies and heads of fish, back scatter, out of focus and dimly lit shots but to my genuine surprise, some were really quite good. Bart said I was a natural and showed me how to crop, edit and add the natural colour back into the photos where colours drop out at depth. I can honestly say this dive changed my life. I came out excited, thoroughly bitten by the marine photography shutter bug and keen and ready to learn more. My underwater adventure had truly begun


The skills covered in the navigation adventure dive

Natural Navigation
180 Degree Turn
Square Navigation
Hand Signals