By Natalie Novak at Dive with Natalie and Ivan
Last month, I did something underwater I had never done before. It was a sunny day, the ocean was calm and I was going on a shallow dive with two new divers, my dad, Ivan, and my friend Eddie. Ivan led the dive watching over everyone while I paired up with our experienced friend, Eddie who watched over me. Although, I have been diving professionally for well over 2000 dives, I had never taken the time to take pictures before!
This is largely because I had not created the opportunity. You see, a professional dive instructor (or a good dive master) should always have their attention on their divers, and thus, should never have a camera in hand. But last month, I took the time to dive for myself and as luck would have it, you can now rent digital underwater cameras at the Akumal Dive Center.
You no longer need to own these expensive pieces of equipment, in order to try one. They come set up, charged and sealed in their case ready to go. I love seeing underwater pictures and video so I was excited to create some. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Using a digital camera underwater was great because I took almost unlimited pictures and only kept the ones I liked. I even created my first short videos with the camera.
While it is true that pictures and video can never capture the freedom, the feeling, and the experience of diving completely. They sure help to all these things to people like my grandmother who has never been diving before.
Having a camera underwater draws your attention away from the act of diving. The best way to manage this is to have a private guide as a buddy who will watch over you as you move at your own pace. I had often been this buddy, but last month I got to be the photographer! I was lucky to have a trusted and experienced friend with me to look after me underwater as I focused on taking pictures and learned to split my attention between my safety and my photos.
Here are three tips I think will help to make underwater photography easier and safer as you experiment with it.
Tip 1 When starting to use a camera underwater, make sure you have a buddy who will make it their personal mission to stay close to you, as you will, inevitably, not be paying attention to where you are or where your buddy is and the group are as you look through the camera.
Tip 2 Start by taking pictures of small creatures that are stationary, like arrow crabs coral or anemones. Then move to taking pictures of other divers and large creatures. I suggest trying to photograph fish last because they rarely sit still as you figure out how to take their picture.
Tip 3 if you set your focus to take pictures from about 15 feet away, on a day with good visibility, you can take more pictures of each animal. This is because, with a little distance, you will scare fewer animals away. And also because, you can get more pictures of the animals as they are coming and going. Remember to set the resolution high when you try this so you can zoom in and or crop your photos later on your computer.