Tips & Tutorials

Capturing Both the Underwater and Terrestrial Worlds in a Single Shot

The example below is a beautiful over-under shot that naturally captures the attention of the viewer. Hidden behind this shot are some photography tips which I would like to unveil and explain. In the first article of the series, I will focus on tips that can be used for scenes by the sea. Let’s take a look at some of the professional shooting techniques. (Reported by: Minefuyu Yamashita)

EOS 70D/ EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM/ FL: 11mm (equivalent to about 18mm in 35mm format)/ Manual exposure (f/6.3, 1/1,600 sec.)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight

Two different worlds unfold with the water surface as the boundary line. I tried to capture this intriguing scene in a single landscape shot with the camera half submerged in the waters of Miyakojima. Note how we capture the Whitetail dascyllus swimming right in front of the camera.

Step 1: Look for a subject against the bright sandy area in the shallow water

Step 2: Move close to the corals to create a perspective effect

Step 3: Use the manual exposure mode to prevent any unintended changes in the exposure by the camera


Step 1: Look for a subject against the bright sandy area in the shallow water

Over-under shots require half the camera to be submerged in water and the other half above water. A housing is a must-have item if you are using a DSLR camera.

First of all, you need to look for a subject against the bright sandy area in the shallow water. This is to reduce the contrast in brightness between the sky and the water in the upper half and the lower half of the composition respectively. Next, submerge about half the lens in water, look through the viewfinder, and adjust the final composition while paying attention to the background.

Step 2: Move close to the corals to create a perspective effect

Move sufficiently close to the corals, which are your subject in the water, to emphasise the perspective between them and the background. To do so, you must make sure that the corals are close to the sea surface by checking the tides and choosing a time when the water level is moderately low.

Next, include a large view of the clouds in the composition to bring out the height of the sky while emphasising the heat. This forms an interesting contrast with the corals. Also, the boundary line of the water surface located almost at the centre of the image helps to establish a relationship between the two worlds in the upper half and the lower half of the composition. I managed to capture a shot with some fish near this line. This position makes them more noticeable in the photo.

Step 3: Use the manual exposure mode to prevent any unintended changes in the exposure by the camera

I selected the manual exposure mode to prevent the camera from adjusting the exposure level automatically when there is movement in the water surface. To stress the subject in the foreground, I selected f/6.3 to blur the background slightly, which creates a softening effect. Next, I set the focus on the corals right in front of me, and monitored the movement of the fish for a suitable timing to release the shutter. Here, I did not use flash, as I wanted to take advantage of the slightly sharp shadow to enhance the colour tone of the subject, which would add a unique touch to it.

Must-have Item
SEA&SEA MDX-70D (Third party product)

The SEA&SEA MDX-70D is trustworthy with a structure that exudes a moderate sense of stateliness. The grip also provides an excellent hold. I usually skin dive to capture underwater shots, and this housing enables me to operate the camera easily and quickly under water—a convenience which is much appreciated. 

Minefuyu Yamashita

Born in 1979 in Aichi. After gaining experience in jobs such as interior and graphic designing, Yamashita became an independent photographer in 2011. His works have been used in many calendars.

http://www.minefuyu-yamashita.com

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.

Published by Impress Corporation

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