Tips

• Get close to the subject — this is the most important tip for wide angle photographers. On your next trip, experiment for one day and, no matter what equipment you are using, try to get so close that the subject is bursting out of the viewfinder. When you view your results, you are likely to find that your distance is just right.

• If circumstances and subject matter require you to shoot in Continuous release mode then don't hesitate to do so.

• Continuous focusing mode is also a popular technique with wide angle. If unsure of the difference between this and Continuous release mode then check out your camera user manual.

• Ensure that you shoot either at eye level or upwards towards the surface. Whilst there are a few exceptions, shooting down on a subject will almost certainly produce a flat result with little contrast.

• When the sun is low on the horizon, try swimming in that general direction. It is an effective way to 'see' in pictures more easily, when the spark of sunlight is in view.

• Always fire off a flash exposure before you enter the water. If your flash fails to fire, or the camera malfunctions, you have a chance to fix it before you get wet.

• Before you enter the water, set your aperture to f8 and your focus distance to about 1 m. Turn your flash on and position it to light a subject about 1 m away from the lens. The reason for this is that within seconds of entering the water you will often see opportunities that would make excellent pictures. So, be prepared for them! Being set at f8 at 1 m will provide you with the best possible chance of getting a quick snapshot in a hurry.

• Take a type of'Polaroid'snap to checkout the colour and condition of subjects before you compose them for real.

• If you feel a little obsessive in your quest for technical perfection, try to let go of it. If your results are not to your standard, it may be that your preoccupation with the technical aspects is getting in your way. I often find that this will cloud any artistic ability.

• Learn it on land and then trust it underwater. This will make room for increasing the amount of thought and creativeness regarding the image itself.

• Learn to use the histogram to determine correct exposure. If the ambient light is incorrect then alter the camera settings. If the flash exposure is incorrect, then alter the flash power settings.

• Of all the subjects we see underwater, 70% are un-photographable because of their location on the reef. If you cannot get to shoot your subject without fear of harm, then move on and find something located in an easier position.

FIG. 9.7 By Jamie Edge. This colourful soft coral looks huge and imposing but it's quite the opposite — it's quite small, no more than 10 cm high! With a 10.5 mm fisheye. Jamie got close to within a few cm and composed the coral with the light shining through the shallow cave systems at St John's in the southern Red Sea.

FIG. 9.7 By Jamie Edge. This colourful soft coral looks huge and imposing but it's quite the opposite — it's quite small, no more than 10 cm high! With a 10.5 mm fisheye. Jamie got close to within a few cm and composed the coral with the light shining through the shallow cave systems at St John's in the southern Red Sea.

FIG. 9.8 If you are confident with your buoyancy control then try hand holding your flashgun for creative alternative lighting angles. I took my flash off camera and held the flash arm in front of my camera but hidden behind the coral bush. It took 15 attempts to get both the angle of the flash and the power setting acceptable. Once those essentials were OK I then concentrated on the composition holding my housing with my right hand and adopting a vertical format with the balance and positioning of foreground coral and background cave slits. 10.5 mm fisheye, f8 at 1/90th sec, ISO 100.

FIG. 9.9 My Tokina 10 mm—17 mm has become my first choice for fisheye because of it's zoom flexibility. A popular technique is to compose the sun behind the subject (in this case the soft coral branch) or keep it out of the frame altogether. Tokina fisheye, f8 at 1/125th, ISO 200.

FIG. 9.10 Ideal use of the flexible Tokina with moving subjects like fish. The generous zoom distance of 17 mm is ideal for shooting more sizeable reef fish. 12 mm end of my Tokina, f9.5 at 1/45th sec.

FIG. 9.11 A fisheye dome and a compact dome. Both are suitable for wide angle photography but ensure you ask your dealer which one is right for your system.

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