Snorkeling is one of the activities that lets us see how beautiful the underwater is. That’s why when you have the chance to try it, grab that opportunity to take underwater photos and videos as well. Photos and videos are great remembrance of the good time you had underwater.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to be able to take good photos when you snorkel. If you want to try underwater photography while snorkeling, here are some tips we’ve gathered which may help you.
Using a Smartphone
Investing on a good camera for underwater is great, but if it’s your first time to go snorkeling, or you just want to try it just once, then using your smartphone to take photos and videos will work. Here are some ways to take photos using your smartphone.
- Get a waterproof case: Many smartphones today are water resistant, but not totally waterproof. Of course you don’t want your phone to be damaged by water, therefore, a waterproof case is important. There are two kinds of waterproof cases you can find in stores as well as online, they are underwater housings and underwater bags. Underwater housings cost higher than bags but they can ensure more protection for your phone. The Kobert Waterproof Cell Phone Case can be a great choice for a waterproof bag because you can take good photos through this transparent case. If you have an iPhone, it’s better to use an underwater housing to protect it.
- Setup: Before taking your smartphone underwater, make sure to set it up first to avoid the struggle of using it while snorkeling. When you immerse your phone underwater, it’s sometimes difficult to use its touchscreen function. What you can do is configure the camera settings of your phone. You can set the volume keys to take photos. You can also set up the resolution you want for the photos you will take, as well as the filters you wish to use. Make sure to fully charge your phone as well. You don’t want to miss on capturing your adventure just because of an empty battery.
- Stability: Since you will move a lot when snorkeling, there’s are tendency for the photos to be blurred and the videos to be shaky. To avoid this, you can use monopods for stability. The Optrix Monopod is a great example for this. You can find a lot of waterproof monopods online for more choices.
- Lighting: If you want to capture beautiful underwater photos, the best time to go snorkeling is while the sun shines brightly on the water. However, it’s still quite dark underwater. It’s not advisable to use the flash of your smartphone’s camera underwater because it can disturb the focus as well as the color of the photo. If you need an added lighting to take photos while snorkeling, you can use a Scuba diving flash light.
- Practice: Practicing taking photos in swimming pools before heading to the ocean can also help especially in being familiar with the camera function of your phone. Since the water in pools is calmer, you’ll be able to easily decide on the photography styles you’ll want to take.
- Shooting process: Once your smartphone is all set up, you can now immerse it in the ocean. Once you find a good subject to shoot while snorkeling, observe its behavior first. If it’s fast moving, like some fish, you can use the burst mode of your phone’s camera. That will take multiple photos of the subject where you can choose the best one. Also, try to get as close as possible to the subject. For example, you’re taking a photo of a coral, you’ll be able to get better color and sharpness if you take a closer photo of it. Some waterproof cases come with built-in wide angle lenses, which can give wonderful effects to the photos. There are also available clip-on lenses for smartphones which can be used underwater.
Using an Action Camera
Action cameras are made for adventures like snorkeling. In fact, you can instantly use an action camera underwater after unboxing it. Most of the action cameras, such as GoPro comes with accessories like the waterproof case and monopod that’s why you don’t have to worry about finding those things. Here are some of the tips in taking photos and videos using your action camera.
- Be familiar with the equipment: If you’re new to using action cameras, it’s important to be familiar with its functions first. It’s difficult to immediately use it underwater without knowing the settings and the buttons to press for it to work.
- Use original and waterproof SD memory cards: Most of the action cameras like GoPro only reads original SD cards so avoid purchasing counterfeits to prevent losing your photos. It’s also better if you can find waterproof memory cards.
- Attach a floaty: Action cameras are expensive and you don’t want to lose them underwater. To keep your camera floating, you can attach a floating handle grip to it or a Nordic Flash Camera Float.
- Use extendable pole handle: For stability in taking photos and videos, use the extendable pole handle of your action camera. If your camera doesn’t come with a monopod, there are lots to choose from online like the Vicdozia Waterproof Monopod.
- Prevent fogging: One problem in taking photos and videos underwater is that the lens becomes foggy overtime. To avoid this, you can use anti fog inserts such as the CamKix Anti-Fog Inserts for GoPro. It is compatible with all GoPro models as well as other cameras and housing systems.
- Avoid water droplets: Water droplets can also ruin photos and videos. This can happen when you poke your camera out of the water to capture the scenery outside. To avoid water droplets, you can use Rain-X on the lens of your action camera. It’s the treatment used on cars’ windshields so that the water will run off better. It is safe to use on cameras, in fact, it is even recommended on the GoPro manual.
- Close the housing carefully: Action cameras come with waterproof housings. When you put it on the camera, make sure that it is sealed properly. If you’re camera doesn’t have one, you can try the Kupton Housing Case.
- Shooting process: Once you immerse underwater, keep your action camera powered on, because some of them takes time to turn on and you might miss the subject you want to take a photo of. When taking photos and videos using action cameras, make sure to get as close as possible to the subject. It’s because they have an ultra-wide view and not getting close enough will make the subject tiny and unrecognizable. You can also swim across shallow reefs while snorkeling. You will be able to capture there the full spectrum of colors even without using any flash or lightings. When taking videos, it’s better to stay on a subject longer rather than taking short clips. This will allow you to capture more sceneries underwater.
GoPros can be expensive, but if you’re on a budget and you want to use an action camera when you go snorkeling, there are some which cost less but work well like the Akaso EK7000 Sports Action Camera. It can also take incredible HD photos at an affordable price. Aside from that, there are lots of selections online.
Using a Professional Camera
If you want to take high quality photos when you go snorkeling, you can take your DSLR camera with you. This kind of camera can take wonderful photos anywhere and at any time of the day even underwater. However, they are not that advisable to use in some activities such as in snorkeling because they are big and heavy. But if you still want to try them underwater, here are some tips.
- Secure it in a waterproof case: Like in smartphones, there are also waterproof cases available for DSLR cameras. An example is the DiCaPac Waterproof Case which fits cameras with 2.0 to 5.9” lens. But if you really want to ensure the safety of your camera, using waterproof housings like Ikelite 6812.81 would be better. However, they are really pricey, but the protection they can give is worth it.
- Setup: The settings of DSLR cameras are more complex compared to smartphones and action cameras. Before taking your camera with you underwater, make sure to fix its settings first. Here are some settings you can follow:
- Set your LCD brightness two clicks down: Since the underwater is dark, having a bright LCD screen will make the exposure of your photos look fine but they can be dark in reality.
- Set the camera to priority release: This will allow the shutter to release even when the camera thinks the lens is out of focus. This will help you not miss the shot you want to take.
- Use normal or standard picture style: This will give you better photos rather than selecting the vivid style which can mess up the color of the photos.
- Shoot RAW: The RAW file format of images can yield to more color tones compared to the JPEG file format.
- Do not use flash: The flash of DSLR cameras are strong and it can ruin the photo.
- Shooting process: DSLR cameras also have wide angle lenses like action cameras, that’s why when you go snorkeling, you need to get closer to the subject. You can also use its Macro mode to capture tiny subjects. And since you’re using a professional camera, don’t forget about the importance of composition, like the rule of thirds and patterns. This will result to better looking photos. You don’t want to waste your effort in carrying a heavy camera by just taking photos the same way you do with smartphones.
These are some of the guidelines which may help you take photos and videos while snorkeling. You don’t need to stress yourself too much on capturing wonderful photos. Just enjoy pointing and shooting your camera to different subjects. The important part is you’re having a good time.