Underwater Photography…Part 2 of 2

Robin Leworthy Wilson Dive Journal 1 - February 2013 PART 2 of 2  Underwater Photography is Not Something You Can Just Dive Into

I communicated with Eddy Raphael at UNEXSO prior to my arrival in the Bahamas. Although fresh and limited in my dive skills Eddy wanted to help me to understand and experience underwater photography first hand. Most people pursuing underwater photography are experienced divers. Coming from the other side of the equation, I am very grateful that Eddy took the time. And time is what it takes…Lot’s of time and experience. I have a whole new appreciation for this underwater photography. Everything that I am accustomed to in sport photography is opposite to taking great photographs underwater.

We started in the classroom to go over the basics of underwater photography. Depth of Field, ISO, Shutter Speed, Color, Equipment, and Positioning were all covered in theory. Applying the concepts virtually in an underwater studio takes a lot of practice and patience. Most importantly dive skills are critical to both the aquatic environment and safety of the diver.


Eddy shoots with a Nikon D200 with a Subal housing and Inon strobes. To maneuver your hands over the housing to change the f-stop, zoom or shutter speed is uncomfortable at first. Everything is where Nikon put it, but because of the housing it takes some getting used to. The buttons respond in different directions and need a firm press to react. Looking through a mask to get the right angle and see through the viewfinder is awkward. Maneuvering the strobes to light a subject and anchoring your arm with a firm stance is thought provoking in a medium like water.


Our first dive of the day was Sea Star wreck site. We worked on DOF at (30-60-125), strobe lighting (light scatter), composition and telling a story. I found it difficult to maintain my buoyancy because my weight belt kept shifting and my fins seemed to be light in the water. All the while keeping an eye on your air and practice breathing to maintain buoyancy is certainly critical. Keeping focused on the photography and trying to communicate underwater is a challenge. I am reassured this all gets easier with experience.


The diopter allows the camera to focus underwater. Distortion of the wide angle lens may need to be compensated.

Thank goodness for the due diligence of my instructors to prepare me for what was to happen next. I am responsible for my own air, BUT I was too focused on getting the shot that I forgot to check. I need to remember to check my pressure gage more frequently, but time flies by under water. I also need to practice breathing to modify my airflow to conserve my tank better. My buddy/instructor, Eddy was beside me to allow an alternate air source ascent. PADI trained me well, but this is a lesson that I will not forget!


It is important to get up close to your subject in water. This allows for great color, texture and focus.

The second dive was at Arrow Point, where we saw colorful corals, a variety of sponges and fish. There was a current to add in the equation. This is where we worked on our approach and re-approaches in my case. Here we need to get in a rhythm and comfort zone for breathing. Everything moves slow underwater, but you still need to steady camera to eliminate shake, air bubbles may make an appearance when you least expect them.


Buoyancy is critical in your approach to get the right angle and light on the subject. Eddy took the photo of the lionfish on the left.   My photo is on the right LOL!!! I really need to work on my buoyancy skills to hover and set up for the shot.

I kept an eye on my air and really tried to focus. It was a lot of work and very frustrating. I am used to photographing 100’s of images in a shoot. In this case, I had less than 50 frames from two dives. I enjoyed watching Eddy demonstrate and communicate with me underwater. We worked on the fundamentals that seemed to be crystal clear in the classroom, but a whole new world down below sea level. 


Tell a story and light up your subject. Depth absorbs light. Strobes are used to capture the beauty of the ocean. Eddy demonstrated color, composition, angle and shades of ocean blue  in these photographs to tell a story.

After my review, Eddy helped me to fully understand my underwater photography experience. It takes an enormous amount of training and practice to become great at defying gravity and interacting with the ever changing aquatic environment. Eddy was endearing and a very encouraging instructor. I admire his work and grateful he was up to the challenge to teach me. I cannot wait to take the plunge again!

I have a whole new perspective about underwater photography and respect to those select few who do it well.

For more information about Eddy Raphael visit Digital Seaweed.com or UNEXSO

Robin Leworthy Wilson Dive Journal 1 - February 2013 PART 1 of 2  Underwater Photography is Not Something You Can Just Dive Into [CLICK HERE]


This is a composite of my favorite subjects from my underwater photography class with Eddy Raphael, UNEXSO

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