Tips for lighting your subjects during uw photography

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Due to the properties of water, shooting underwater has its challenges. Knowing how to work the lights underwater is important for photography. There are some tips that will help to get better lighting in the right direction.

*Get a little closer
Moving closer will lessen the amount of water between your lens and your subject, meaning a higher shot success rate. Try to stay within a few feet of your subject to get the most light, contrast and color from your lights.

*Framing and contrast
Ambient light doesn’t have to be restricted to soft rays flitting from the surface. Silhouetting your subject can sometimes bring a stronger sense of place, and add an almost ethereal quality to your photographs.

*Working with strobes/video lights
When you’re ready to explore deeper, the lights can help a lot. Many uw photographers now are switching from strobes into video lights, which is less expensive and more versatile. For macro shooters, you can get away with a single light. Adding a second light will allow you to fill shadows created by the primary. For wide-angle photography, a pair of lights are recommended, giving more brightness and effective lighting range.

*For macro shooting
Strobes have an angle of about 90 degrees or more; your subjects will be at 30 degrees or less. You can aim strobes in the general direction and still hit the target. Strobes will be placed close to the camera, facing forward. With a single strobe, place it on top. And with the video light, it can be easier as the focus light for macro photography, capture images easily.

*For wide-angle shooting
the wider you go with the lens, the strobe placement becomes more critical. As a general rule, keep your strobes pointed forward, not inward, and have about the same distance from the strobe to the housing as you have from the lens to the subject. This will also avoid lighting up the tiny particles in the water - backscatter...

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