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Still Photography

Underwater Photography Frequently Asked Questions

What are all the white spots on my pictures?
The “white spots” or backscatter are caused by the strobe being too closely aligned with the camera/lens. The light from the strobe goes straight out and bounces off particles, dirt and other crud in the water directly back into the lens creating highlights or white reflections off the particles. See the backscatter article in our Lights & Strobes section for more info on the subject.

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Our Camera section will get you on your way to understanding the camera, film, sensors, and lenses. Without an understanding of how things work, it’s difficult to anticipate shortcomings or problems and deal with them either before or after they come up.

Focusing the Camera

Manual focus, auto-focus and focus-lock are the basic choices facing the photographer underwater. Each has its uses. Each has some disadvantages.

Manual focus comes in two basic forms, SLR manual focus and range finder focusing. Both types rely on the photographer to set the focus properly. Most people are familiar with the SLR camera’s manual focus. Look through the viewfinder, twist the lens barrel, make the image sharper or fuzzier, line up the edges of the image in the focus target ring/area of the viewfinder, and take the picture! It’s a pretty simple way to get things done.
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Fill the Frame

Figure 1
Figure 1

Fill the frame refers to the idea of having your subject take up all or nearly all the space in the frame. Doing this makes an image bolder, simpler, cleaner and less complicated for the viewer. As an added bonus, images of potentially dangerous or scary critters that look “too close” can have an added momentary startle or “wow” effect. The “that’s closer than I’d get” response. They don’t have to look for the subject, it’s right there in their face. The idea is to cut the clutter out of the picture. That is, eliminate the extra “stuff” around or near the subject that doesn’t help present the image you want to show. Figure 1, Spotted Moray, is the usual view that divers see when looking at a moray. But, this photo has too much distracting clutter. Figure 2 is the same dive, same moray, same camera and lens, I just moved over a little, turned the camera vertical and got closer with the Nikon 60mm micro lens.

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