Macro underwater photography works very well and can quickly give spectacular results.
There are a few good reasons why my camera spends a lot of time fitted with a macro instead of a wide angle lens:
*I am closer to my subject which eliminates many of the issues caused by the tiny particles found in sea water that result in noise, backscatter, and fuzzy images.
* Water absorbs colours quickly, so being closer makes it easier to capture vibrant colour and more detail.
*There is often a huge selection of macro subjects right where we are anchored. We just drop down under the boat in a few metres of water and fossick about. The diving is easier as there is no real need to go deep or for strenuous swims to survey large areas. Mostly we just take the one camera, so while one is looking for interesting subjects, the other is trying to capture that perfect shot.
*We use DSLR cameras with housings and separate strobes that also double up for wide angle and other photography uses. But the good news is if you are just interested in close-up macro then you can also get excellent results and at a lower cost with an easier to handle compact camera. Check out the website of 2010-2011 world champion Brian Mayes, who uses a compact camera with no additional strobes. Click here to see his amazing photos and click here to view his profile and camera set-ups.
Syl and I rate nowhere near the top marine photographers, but we have a lot of fun and have learned a few things along the way. Here’re a few of our shots with an explanation on how we took them.
Which lens? The 60mm lens is our go to lens for macro because it’s so easy to focus and allows us to get as close as 100mm from our subject. But with the above Blenny the greater magnification of the 105mm meant I could shoot from further away without scaring him off. Focusing on the eye gave a tiny but sharp DOF highlighting its eyes and face with a pleasing fade out of his body into the background.
Several magazines have used this image including the latest edition of Australian Wildlife magazine where if featured front page in their interesting article on ‘How fish think and feel.’. Click here to read their full story.
Night diving lends itself to macro photography. On this occasion, we were anchored near a very open coral area that had been decimated by Cyclone Yasi a few years back. But come night it came alive with interesting crustaceans and colourful sea slugs which made for excellent photo opportunities.
A good processing software program is often a big help. It was impossible to avoid the cluttered background in the original image (inset). But I was able to darken it out using basic Photoshop tools to make the oyster pop.
I had fun snorkelling with this big friendly Wrasse to capture his unique eyeball. The 60mm lens is great for shooting moving targets.
To see more macro pics from Syl and I click here.
Shots from our friends — Point and shoot macro enthusiasts.
Paul and Barbara Banks are an Eagle-eyed cruising couple which shoot with just a Basic underwater point and shoot compact camera. They use a Ricoh W5 GPS model which has an excellent Macro-Macro setting and costs about $450. They are experts at finding colourful sea slugs (Nudibranch and Flat Worms). It’s amazing what they find, photograph and identify while just snorkelling around shallow coral reef structures. Here are a three of their beautiful images taken around Lizard Island.
Shots from our friends — Amazing photographic team.
One of my favourite underwater macro photographers is the highly skilled husband and wife team of Tavistock. They have developed excellent skills understanding and locating tiny life forms and capturing startling images. Here are 10 of their superb images. Something for me to aspire to.