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Underwater Videography - Enabling Your Creativity

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How To

H-Stop 12 - Rocky Balboa

These are the type of shots I use when training students and I continually practice myself. Once I'm in the water we practice a few hover close ups, which help to re-aline the body and mind at the start of the allowing you to focus on your breathing. I pick a subject in this case Christmas tree Worms and practice holding the composition after a few shots I find my compositions are a lot more natural and relaxed giving a smooth finish to the shot.

 

H-Stop #11 - Composition

The composition of your images is the most important factor in creating a successful shot and determining your very own style. A good composition establishes a sense of harmony between lights; lines balance, framing timing and the full range of Cinematography techniques. Of all the theories and mathematical formulae that have been expounded, perhaps the most recognized and most commonly applied is the rule of thirds.

The ancient Greek Pythagoras conceived of this equation that divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically, and determines six points of intersection between these lines. These points of intersection are considered to be aesthetically pleasing points on which to have key elements of you composition placed or focused. So by carefully considering the placement of elements in your composition, the image will appear well composed.

I have tried to achieve just this with the Somber Sweetlips- Plectorhinchus unicolor; that I spotted hanging out above some corals by the North-west Buoy line at Koh Tao dive site White Rock. I swim around to ensure that the sun is at my back, this in turn helped to enhance the contrast and play of light on my subjects ventral and pectoral fins. I like to imagine that this fish is dressed in shining armor as the light dances from his scales.

 

H-Stop #10 - Roped In

In underwater videography natural light is your greatest tool it is the light source by which most videographers work in shallower waters in the tropical blue water seas. You must start to learn how light behaves underwater the forces and physics at work. The first step is by observing, by doing this you can start to understand, the effects of light; to understand whether the light you are looking at is direct or reflected sunlight, where the light source is coming from. However, natural light behaves in many different ways, dependent on the time of day, the weather conditions, the surface conditions and the water conditions. This first H stop series was shot in the mornings on clear bright days, with flat calm seas and very little turbidity in the water. This means that the amount of light penetrating into the water was possibly at one of the greatest levels it could be. When you are dealing with direct strong sunlight, even underwater, the light can be harsh and unforgiving, when it refracts into the water it could adopt an infinite range of characteristics, dependent on the color tone and texture of the surface then when it reflects under the water it once again takes on another infinite range of possibilities.

In terms of the composition of this shot the texture of the rope complements the Blue Spotted Grouper - Cephalopholis cyanostigma; as I pan using a swimming shot, focusing on the eye of the fish.

H-Stop #09 - Cleaning Stations

img_5637Stopping and spending time recording the activities at cleaning stations on the reef or sea mount, offer great opportunities to capture the local marine life and to practice buoyancy and composition skills, as the fish take part in their daily grooming sessions to rid themselves of parasites. Observing these areas and studying the fishes behaviours will require you to move in close to the area with out disturbing the cleaner fishes customers. Use slow gentle movements, controlled soft fin kicks (different techniques are appropriate for different situations) and inch in a little at a time. Find a stable position to hold and if the areas topography allows we suggest the lowest possible body position with the tips of your fin in the sand. The more relax and content you are with your body position the easier it will be to hold these types of shots. Widen your legs if need be, to maintain balance ensuring you’re not touching any coral or wildlife.
This will give you the chance to practice your fish portraits comfortably and with this stability it will enable you to make the small adjustments to your field of view along the x & y axis, the trick is to make as small as adjustments to you frames location as possible.