Underwater photography is not easy. The divers who have tried it will tell you: blue pictures, blurry or over exposed, the flash picturing all the particles in the water and not the beautiful fish behind, the difficulty keeping your stable buoyancy, adjusting a light... It is not for nothing that we offer photography courses! But in the last 5 years, a new kind of underwater photography has emerged. The GoPro underwater photography and videography. It is much easier because there are no settings to manage. No zooms, no color balance, just a click. Anyhow here are a few tips and advice for those of you jumping in a dive with your stick.
-get a grip: it is highly recommended to have a handle and any kind of strap around your wrist. You wouldn't believe how many GoPros are being found at the bottom of the ocean. One of our divers found a GoPro 4 in Sunset divesite last week! A non buoyant handle is practical as it is not pulling your camera to the top when you let go of it. A head strap is interesting because your videos won't be so shaky, but it will not be so practical for photos. Also headstraps are lost quite easily, so a mask with GoPro mount is safer. Experience with wrist mounts or back of the hand mounts aren't usually very comfortable. Divers are seen struggling to set their hand in the wanted position to take a picture or make a film. Finally, any kind of pole can be interesting so that you stay further out of the reef and have more space to assure your buoyancy, but remember to pull the pole back to its minimal length after your picture. There is nothing more annoying than having a diver with a one meter pole in the middle of a group.
-add colors: as you will be going down underwater, the first color that you will lose is the red. To avoid having all you pictures and videos looking blue, simply add a plastic red filter on your housing. The difference will be great, but remember to remove it above 5m and when making your way up to the surface!
-keep the focus: as everything moves underwater, you need to stay as stable as possible. But you can't stop the fishes from moving, so I recommend to use rather the camera mode and shoot a film. Then later on your computer, you can freeze the image and make a screenshot to share that nice fish picture. Don't forget that GoPros have a wide angle. No need to try and get too close to your subject. Better keep a minimum of 30cm distance.
-check your seal: a single thread of hair is enough to flood a camera underwater, and it is not rare to see it happening. Always check your o-ring before you drop in the water. And if you see water coming in, turn your camera off and keep it off the whole time. You might save your GoPro by not making any electric connection. Then once you are out of the water, dip your camera in a bowl of uncooked rice. It will help remove the humidity. Keep it in for a day before trying it again.
In Gili Trawangan, the GIli Divecenter Association (GIDA) has set the rules for beginner divers and cameras, so as to keep the divers safe, as well as the environment. Uncertified divers (DSD, Open Water students) are not allowed to use a camera during those training dives. They will enjoy their dive much more by having their full attention on what they are doing, rather than focusing on taking a shaky video, or a blurry picture and will avoid crushing down in the corals.
GoPro photography or videography is just about pressing one button: on/off. If you want to learn how to do the white balance to have the real colors on your footage, to do manual focus to choose what will be the star of your photo, to practice exposure times or exposition, stop by in our divecenter, and you will have passionate underwater photographers to teach you all about it. Taking the PADI Photography Adventure as part of your Advance Open Water Course is one way of getting introduced to that specialty. Enjoy your dives and share pictures with us on Facebook: Blue Marine Dive Resort - Blue Marine Dive Trawangan.