Scientific photography with underwater camera: where job met pleasure!
What is a biologist with an underwater camera doing?
If you believe that biology and marine research are just to stay behind a microscope in a formalin-smelling lab, you are wrong! There is also a most amusing part: field activity! And, which activity is better than scientific underwater photography? Very few!
The purposes for scientific photography could be many. In our case is to monitor the species present in our area and to describe the local marine flora and fauna. Our long term goal is to edit a marine biology recognition book for the Greek market, but the street is still long. We will need a LOT of material and VERY good one! That means many diving and many, many shootings!
If you are interested in undertaking underwater photography you will need several things. First of all a full diving equipment, is recommended. You can also take photographs free diving, but you need very good lungs and buoyancy. Taking photographs while snorkelling is not so practical, too: good shots are always little bit under the water level and, especially, on the surface is WAVY!
Then you need a good underwater camera, or maybe, a normal camera with an underwater housing. The easiest to manage is a compact digital camera. Nowadays you can find good cameras with their own housing for few hundreds euros. These compacts have their own flash and with a good underwater light and a little bit of practice you will manage to take very good pictures.
Of course, for more professional results you will need more professional equipment: bigger camera, which means bigger housing, which means external flash or flashes. All this means more expensive equipment that is also more difficult to manage underwater. But the choice depends on you, on your passion, on your level of attended results and, of course last but not least, on your wallet!
For our underwater pictures we used both a compact Canon Power Shot digital camera with its own housing and flash, and a SLR Canon Power Shot digital camera with a Ikelite housing and a system of two external flashes. From one side was positioned the master flash, and from the opposite side the secondary flash, with the main goal to enlighten the shadows created by the master flash.
In order to contrast the blue dominance of the sea waters, we used a magenta filter positioned directly on the flashes.
Experimenting a little bit every time, we can find some simple and practical solutions to apply for a better result.
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