First Advanced Underwater Photography course

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Aqualectra_20110228_001_before_smallOn Wednesday February 28, 2011 the first Advanced Underwater Photography course was given by me. My student, a young woman from The Netherlands, who already completed an Underwater Photography course in Thailand and who wanted to improve her pictures further. Her camera a Canon Powershot D10 capable of taking underwater pictures till a depth of 10 meters. So we had to limit our dives to that depth. Not a real problem because the best lighting conditions for working without an external strobe are in the first 10 meters of water.

This course is less about taking good pictures and more about improving the results after you leave the water. Still you need a good picture to start with (and that is the focus of the normal Underwater Photography course), but a lot needs to be done in the post-processing. A task that was done for you by the photoshop in the times of photo-negative or -positive film. Nowadays with digital imaging these steps are still necessary to get optimal results and need to be done by you with help of photo editing software. This advanced underwater photography course focuses on the basic and advanced techniques to do that.

We started the course in the morning with a photo dive at Fisherman's Wharf (also known as The Water factory). The visibility was not optimal and there was a slight current. It was cloudy so the lighting conditions were also not optimal. But we managed to take a decent amount of pictures. The picture shown here is one of the pictures I made with my Sea & Sea DX-1G without external strobes; the picture was made as a JPG-image to mimic the behaviour of a simple point&shoot camera. No custom white balance was set to get the most traditional result. Custom white balance would have given a far better picture to start from. I was pleasantly surprised with the results of the Canon Powershot D10; that camera takes very good color pictures with the preset Canon Underwater white balance option. Custom white balance is not needed with that camera.

In the afternoon we did the basic editing session with some sidesteps to more advanced topics. The topics covered were:

  • Color Balance (in Raw and JPG, several options to improve color)
  • Brightness and Contrast
  • Levels
  • Improving colors (Lab-colors and Hue-saturation)
  • Sharpening
  • Cropping to improve composition.

Aqualectra_20110228_001_after_smallExcept for cropping all techniques are used to improve the first picture resulting in the version at left of the same picture.

On March 1, 2011 we went for a second photo dive. This time we visited the Tugboat site; that is a perfect location for a photo session. There was still no direct sunlight so the conditions were not optimal. My student loved the place and she made a large number of pictures of the wreck, the nearby steel constructions and a small patch of coral near the shore. This shows that a photographer doesn't need to cover large distances; taking the time to hover over an interesting place and trying to get the best picture is what separates the enthousiastic underwater photographer from the more casual diver/photographer.
In the afternoon we completed the editing course by going over the topics that were already covered and some more:

  • Correcting underexposed areas in an otherwise correctly exposed picture
  • Mandrake script to correct greenish pictures
  • Removing noise and other unwanted objects

With all these techniques in her bagage this student will be able to produce far better results than without this knowledge.

If you are interested in this course or the basic Underwater Photography course please contact me.