In a Perfect World

We would have:

• An interesting underwater portion in the bottom half.

• An interesting topside view.

• A flat calm surface but with an 'S' shaped water line to provide a sense of energy.

• The sun behind us, illuminating both the over and under aspects equally.

FIG. 9.38 A shallow water split shot on the house reef at Kasai Village dive resort, Cebu in the Philippines. Taken at 8.23am with the sun directly behind my back. I would take at least 10 shots of this idea to ensure that I got at least one without too much water dispersion on my dome port. Nikon D300,10.5 mm fisheye lens, f 11 at 1/320th sec, ISO 200, natural light, Auto white balance with the WB colour picker in Adobe Camera Raw. Manual exposure mode.

FIG. 9.38 A shallow water split shot on the house reef at Kasai Village dive resort, Cebu in the Philippines. Taken at 8.23am with the sun directly behind my back. I would take at least 10 shots of this idea to ensure that I got at least one without too much water dispersion on my dome port. Nikon D300,10.5 mm fisheye lens, f 11 at 1/320th sec, ISO 200, natural light, Auto white balance with the WB colour picker in Adobe Camera Raw. Manual exposure mode.

Who says underwater photographers don't ask for much?

This is where the challenge begins to bite us. You have to practise these techniques and the best place to start is the dive/photo resort swimming pool.

Think laterally! Avoid the open sea by all means.

Where do you find glass clam water and shallow under-surface subjects?

Answer! In shallow water, so consider swimming pools, rock pools, shallow calm sandy beaches, mangrove swamps, inlets, and harbours, I'm sure you can add to the list.

The difficulty is finding half a scene that will complement the other half! I am forever finding a colourful, photogenic shallow seascape with nothing on land to complement it, or a white sandy beach and palm trees topside with no interest underwater.

Recently on the Island of Moen in Chuuk lagoon, whilst waiting to board the liveaboard, Odyssey, we had perfect conditions in terms of sun position, flat water conditions, topside scenery, shallow underwater reef and, to top it all, fluffy white clouds in a vivid blue sky.

I took advantage of these perfect conditions but one thing I neglected to consider was protection from the sun and after two hours of shooting I knew I was in for an uncomfortable, sleepless and painful night.

If you want to shoot splits, I cannot stress enough to take advantage of the conditions when they all come together. If you don't take advantage — if you put it off till the next day — then either the sun will be behind cloud or the visibility will be murky or the glass calm surface will be choppy. Something will blight your efforts so don't wait until tomorrow — as they often say, it never comes!

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