I promised a while ago to write an article about underwater photography, and I have been so swamped I haven’t been able to! BUT I thought I would start by sharing at least one before and after, so you can see what shooting in a lake can be like. I chose this shot because it gives you the sense of what the conditions in the lake are like. Literally pockets of light in very murky water that you have to learn to see. Personally, thats what draws me to keep shooting in the lake despite the challenges.
I will show you what I mean. Below is what you often encounter in lake conditions. This was taken later at night. I find you can get images under water when there is little light left, often past what you would expect to be able to. The light was fairy flat, except for the neat pockets of really pretty light just barely penetrating the water. I knew when I shot it it would just be about the light, and there would be a lot of shadow fall off, so I looked for interesting pockets of light and how the light wrapped my subject.
In terms of gear, I was shooting with a wider angled lens, the 17-40mm 4L Canon, at 24mm. It isn’t my favourite lens to shoot with, but it allows you to get closer to your subject and still get a sense of space, which I like. Because lakes are so murky, its important to get closer to your subject if you want to be able to see them, although I have gotten really ghostly images that I love by shooting further away too.
For this image, I waited until I saw the triangle shape made my the bubbles and the spotlight effect on him and exposed more for the light as I do like to add visual interest and structure into underwater photos.
Processing is key to all underwater images, especially those taken in a lake. In my processing, I wasn’t so concerned about anything else but about the way the light highlighted his skin and hair, the bubbles (always a favourite element of mine) and the reflections. The image below was quick to process because I already knew it would be about the light and structure before I took the image. I find you have to add contrast and blacks back into underwater images and this one was no different. A slight crop and you find the image below. To me it speaks to what you find underwater in lakes in the summer, dark, murky and full of mystery. You will find that lakes have the most lovely hues of blue/greens and after seeing images all taken in the pools with the bright blues, I find them a welcome change!
If you have any questions at all – ask away! I am working on a more comprehensive post about underwater photography.