The Cayman Islands have some wonderful wrecks and photographing them can be a lot of fun.
Use a wide lens
Most wrecks is that they are big, so to fit them into the picture area of a normal lens you would need to shoot from far away. However, particles suspended in the water make it impossible to see more than a hundred feet or so underwater. The solution is to use as wide a lens as possible to allow you to get closer for a better photo.
Try a fish-eye
Fish-eye lenses are so wide that they include a full 180 degree field of view. But while a straight line running through the centre of the photo will stay straight, any lines not crossing the centre become more and more curved. Experiment with your camera position. For example, you can make the bow loom hugely toward you, or notice that shooting toward the side of the Kittiwake makes it curl weirdly away from you.
Use natural light
Even with the widest lens, you usually cannot light the entire wreck with a strobe. When there is no colourful sea life on the wreck, natural light may be best.
Use strobe for the foreground
Strobes add important colour and detail especially when you want to capture a small feature of the wreck, like the helm, a sponge encrusted winch, or maybe part of the interior. To get the colour of the strobe light, you should be within three feet of your subject. Because your wide-angle lens provides a larger depth of field, you do not have to worry as much about using the smallest possible apertures.
Add long arms for your strobe
Using a strobe can cause problems when there are particles suspended in the water. Backscatter is created when light bounces off these particles and back to the camera. This is a big problem with point and shoot cameras with a built in strobe.
When the strobe is close to the lens, it lights the particles that are just a few inches away with the flash and ruins the photo. If you are shooting large subjects such as wrecks, you need a long arm to hold the strobe several feet from the lens.
Add divers for perspective
To show the immensity of the wreck, include a diver in the picture to provide a size comparison. This is really helpful when you are showing a huge propeller.
Don’t ignore your SCUBA skills
Finally, remember, “Dive the wreck, but don’t wreck the dive!” Keep checking your position, air, depth, bottom time and accent rates, and keep tabs on your buddy. Photography is a lot of fun, but it can steal our attention from your diving skills. Dive first, take photos second.
To learn more about photography, come and see us at Cathy Church’s Photo Centre, at Sunset House Hotel, or call 949-7415 to arrange for a class. Until then, Dive Safely and Happy Snapping!