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Top 10 Macro Tips Underwater Photography Macro

Enjoy this Top 10 Macro Tips

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Its one best ways to start underwater photography as you can always find plenty of subjects perfect for macro on the reef and it is relatively easy to do.

First of all, get the basics of Macro down, then try out these Top 10 Macro Tips!

Macro photography is arguably the most popular underwater photography style because it has so many  styles, techniques and objectives.  Macro techniques have produced many fantastic photos, as a macro beginner, you have many examples out there to lend inspiration from yet sometimes these images start to look similar to each other, especially after the 500th Shrimp or nudibranch photo. This is where Abstract Macro Photography and our Top 10 Macro Tips will take you to the next level.  Always keep an eye out for those classic macro shot techniques but also for flavor and fun, let me introduce a few tips for abstract macro underwater photography.

Top 10 Macro Tips No1 - Get Close

First of all, before you get fancy trying our Top 10 Macro Tips, check you know the basics! Most of all, read my Macro Basics Tips if you dont. You must have heard this before!? "get close, and when you think you are close enough, get closer again!" because minimizing the amount of water between you and your macro subject is the base line to achieving vibrant, colorful and sharp underwater clicks. When diving you will notice the water carries thousands of tiny particles. While not that distracting to your eye, when illuminated by a flash or dive light, create speckles all over your great picture,consequently spoiling your image.

When shooting Macro you are so closely focusing that even in bad conditions, if you get close enough, particles won’t be that much of problem. If you get some back scatter on your images, dont worry, because you can read how removing backscatter is easily with a few clicks right here!

Top 10 Macro Tips No2 - Buoyancy

Abstract Macro Photography is not all about Camera Skills!
You need to have total mastery over your buoyancy skills, also the ability to judge depth and size underwater so you know you have ample room for your lens or housing port! It is NOT acceptable as an underwater photographer to damage corals, disturb a lot of silt or break or scratch your camera equipment. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. In addition, stabilize yourself only by placing a couple fingers on a rock or dead part of the reef therefore keeping your body off of the bottom altogether.

Top 10 Macro Tips No3 - Use Macro Mode

While this may sound stupid, its especially relevant to beginners who leave their cameras in auto mode. I use a CANON  G12 in macro mode. Sometimes I use a macro wet lens but not always, for lighting I use a Sea and Sea Wide angle Video light or built in flash, most importantly, with diffuser.  All my camera settings are manual. Any underwater camera system capable of shooting macro can be used for artistic macro shooting. Finally, the photographer’s creativity is always more important than the equipment used!

Top 10 Macro Tips No4 - Get Creative

Think of Abstract Macro Photography like any other abstract art, focus is on the shapes and forms, the colours and patterns. Usually you would not see a  whole object but instead only see part of its form focusing on perhaps only a small part of it. When Shooting abstract compositions the idea is to capture specific details on a subject to create an open view or interpretation that can be processed or observed infinitely by the imagination of the beholder.

Top 10 Macro Tips No5 - Observe Colors and Patterns

Look not for interesting aquatic life as a whole but observe the patterns, textures and color variations of the reef and its inhabitants.. Almost every common macro subject has abstract potential to be recognized and then captured by the right artist mind.

Top 10 Macro Tips No6 - Use a Focus Light

Any aperture/shutter works as long as it provides a properly exposed photo. You'll find it far easier to get focus and detail with various setting with an excellent light. It really is crucial since we are shooting very small detail.

Top 10 Macro Tips No7 - Use bokeh

Truly, using bokeh (shallow depth of field) looks amazing
Bokeh sometimes pronounced as Boh-he in Japanese (boke), is the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light" and it plays a very important role in Abstract Macro Photography.  For one thing; in classic macro photography, we aim to look for the maximum depth of field , using very small apertures. Surprisingly for artistic shots we often do the exact opposite, using the blurriness as a creative tool in fact. To clarify this technique, let the focal subject of the shot become solidified in its presence by using the blurr to pin point its attention in the composition. Remember good photography skills 101, buoyancy control and a calm hand will allow you to click a sharp focus on an exact point of the subject.

Top 10 Macro Tips No8 – Go Manual

Dont be afraid to go full manual! Photography is fun and when exploring it, you will discover that manual mode really is your best friend since it gives you total control. This is especially relevant when working on Bokeh shots! Look at your manual camera settings and aim for a aperture around f/2 to f/4 – basically a wide-open aperture. The shutter speed is then set to around 1/250s or what your camera will allow. Play around and ask advice. Good Luck!

Top 10 Macro Tips No9 - Try High Key

Most of all, a high-key image makes for stunning picture!
High Key Abstract Macro Photography is made from Light tones, without dark shadows. While high-key lighting technique overexposes certain elements, mostly the image's background is affected, in order to highlight the prominent parts of the composition. Ideally, the overexposed background will be a clean white color. A very popular photography technique used on models in a studio but not your standard approach to underwater macro photography.
Remember, most of all, to Click a high-key shot you will need a subject that already has a bright background, such as sand or bright-colored rocks. Sand usually always works best in a underwater setting. Set the light measurement of the camera to spot metering!  This is important step to ensure the exposure of the main subject is in the dead center of the frame and therefore not the sand around it. This way the camera will expose for the darker subject, probably leaving the light background overexposed. Pointing your strobe or light straight down towards the subject to have the sandy ground reflect the strobe light. While sometimes I use the built in flash for this or my Video light from the side, as long as you fill out the subject as required it doesnt matter which you use. Tada! A High Key Click with a white background!

Top 10 Macro Tips No10 - Share & Learn

Share your photographs and look at other peoples to advance your style and technique whilst enjoying what you do! Why not follow us on social media, maybe you'll get some future ideas! Happy clicking!

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Andrew Jennings
Andrew Jennings
You host and creator of underwater clicks.