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Underwater Videography - Enabling Your Creativity

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How To

H-Stop #08 - Drifting

This shot was taken at the northwest buoy line of local dive site White Rock, the shot was made easier due to slight current advantageously current running south to north as I panned. This Cephalopholis Formosa - Blue Lined Grouper was perched on a patch of coral watching the neapolitan coloured underwater world go about its business. These guys are good fish to practice shooting as they are not as shy as other species so generally if you keep your movements soft and gentle and Breathing relaxed you should have no problems getting close.

My goal here was to highlight the movement of the pectoral and ventral fins as I drift by with the current: if you were a fish the pectoral fin would be your left-hand and the ventral your right-hand. Once I had decided on my shot, I banked right swimming a full circular motion out away from the coral ready to position myself, checking my exposure, white balance and depth gauge before coming into take the pan shot. The trick to executing current shot is to pick your starting and finish points, which I find, helps to make the shot overall smooth and flush.

H-Stop 7 Travelling South

I started taking these shots with the idea that it could transport the non-diver into the underwater realm, giving them a chance to experience what we as divers see and experience on any given day. I have subsequently found that they have become one of my many cinematography addictions. If you are trying to create a shot like this one of the keys is knowing the topography of the dive site and the direction of your main light source. Of course being on a quiet dive site and having good visibility also help.

Knowing the depth at which you are as well as where natural features are on the Y-axis and when they are going to provide shade or exposure helps to smooth the shots overall exposure. With this shot taken at White Rock I white balanced and exposed along the naturally occurring sand bar and ensured I was maintaining a constant depth. Using the natural topography to provide shade from the majority of light as I move towards the light source, preventing over exposure before I move to travel south when the light is on my left side.

Other key tips for this kind of shot are to use your breath to smooth between fin kicks, regulate your breathing and choosing the right speed. You also need to maintain the cameras frame to prevent wobbles and jolts from your fin strokes. You'll know if you are doing a shot like this right as at the end your wrists will feel like they're ready to drop off!!

H-Stop #06 - Two’s Company

Have you ever noticed how banner, butterfly and angel-fish always come in pairs? And if you only see one to start off with then the second one is never far behind? And they have that lovely twisting motion of figure of eights around one another. The trick trying to capture these types of fish is to observe, don’t chase the fish, watch and learn to choose your moment. If you see one of the pair look around for the second, generally this will tell you where the fish is going to move to, anticipate. 9 times out of 10 if you just focus on one of the pair the other will follow it into frame making for a more complete composition.


H-Stop 3 The Emperors New Clothes

Lethrinus Microdon - Small Tooth Emperor Fish; Is the subject of this shot, these fish are pretty tricky to get close as they are very fast and very skittish. I spotted this guy on a sand bar at between 12-13 meters at local dive-site, White Rock. As you can see in this shot these guys have an interesting camouflage, they have mottled and blotched markings in a shade of brown or a clean silver look as seen at the end of this shot. I have often observed these guys in small schools on the hunt, as they hunt they appear to flash their camouflage on and off as if they where communicating with each other.

The key to this shot is understanding the fishes behavior and controlling your approach, with the emperor respect his space and let him check you out, relaxing your breathing so that bubbles aren't scaring the subject and slowly approach to get closer.