Underwater photo tips
Water clarity, light
Light and visibility are best near the surface and in the first few meters under water. But you will be dependent on the clarity of the water, which varies according to your destination and the weather conditions. Particles in the water (that we tend to stir up when we touch the seabed, for example) can spoil photos, particularly when taken with a flash. Generally speaking, you should try not to use a flash whenever possible.
Distance from the subject
Water produces a natural filter that reduces color, sharpness and contrast in your photos. From too great a distance (or by over-using the zoom), your photos will often be blurred, and the color blue will overwhelm all the others. The further you are from your subject, the more this effect will be present. So it is better to get as close to your subject as possible (which can be a real challenge with some timid fish!), and ideally less than one meter away.
This is probably the most sensitive point for successful snorkeling photos. The problem arises above all if you take photos while freediving and not from the surface (which is of little interest). Unlike in scuba diving, it is hard to master your buoyancy when snorkeling. So being at ease under water (being able to dive and then stabilize) is an essential prerequisite for successful photography.
Choosing the subject
Under water, some subjects are easier to photograph than others. Taking photos of a lively or very timid fish, for example, can be a real challenge. Practice with static subjects (coral, sea anemones, clams, etc.) or fish that are easy to get close to. The results in macro mode are often superb. On mobile subjects, don’t hesitate to take a great many shots, so that you can choose the best one later (make sure you have enough space on your memory card and don’t forget to charge your battery before setting off).
Choosing the best angle
When snorkeling, it is easy to take photos from the surface, but this is hardly ever the best angle for high-quality photos. Ideally, you should be at the same level as your subject. Underwater landscapes, shoals of fish or many other subjects only take on their full dimension from this angle. In certain cases (particularly for rays, turtles or sharks), it is worthwhile positioning yourself under the subject, to have the surface of the water in the background.