Cuttlefish during Breeding season at Whyalla in South Australia.
The Seniors built a domino structure spelling out Seniors 13 from the food drive contributions.
Norcom doing what they do best...
Hey guys, it you're watching this... DAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!!!!!!
Winston Chapman long snapping at Prokicker.com Kicking Camps.
Paul Duxfield discusses some compositional techniques that will lift your underwater photography to new highs
The art of composition is older than photography; in fact, it’s as old as art itself. While it can be said to be arbitrary and instinctive, there are certain established rules that are guaranteed to invest your images with greater impact.
Look at lots of pictures, and try to figure out why one shot works and another doesn’t. Check out pictures by the big names and figure out how and why they got their results. But don’t forget that with the right combination of technique, imagination and a healthy dose of luck, there’s no reason you can’t achieve the same.
THE RULE OF THIRDS
This is one of the most straightforward compositional techniques, and part of its beauty is the fact that it is only a rough guide. Imagine two lines running left to right and top to bottom across your image area, effectively splitting it into vertical and horizontal ‘thirds’.
If you try and compose your shots so that the main object of interest is on one of these lines, or where they intersect, it will generally result in a more pleasing composition than simply placing it slap bang in the middle of the picture. When shooting with a wide-angle lens, the exaggerated perspective encourages you to place the main object of interest prominently in the foreground third. This leads the viewer into the picture, and shows the subject matter pictured within its surroundings.
You can use this time to practise the other skills we’ve looked at over the past year, so that the camera becomes an extension of you and the technical stuff becomes second nature, freeing you to concentrate on the artistic aspects of your shots.
Another great and really easy way to change your viewpoint is to compose in the vertical. Practise this by always taking more than one shot of a subject, making sure that you compose a few with the camera held upright.
Keep it simple: some of the best photos are those that have only a few elements to the picture, making strong and bold statements of colour, contrast and shape – remember that less is more. Round subjects often look good when composed in a vertical.
SHOOT FROM THE HIP
This is a photo technique that a lot of urban photographers use, and I often employ it underwater. It simply means taking pictures without looking directly at the screen; holding the camera in positions you simply wouldn’t be able to squeeze into if you had the camera in front of your face in the conventional manner.
This way, you can get your camera under coral and over obstacles to shoot from a unique perspective or to reach creatures that would otherwise be hard to photograph. Just remember that the environment and the creatures in it are more important than any photograph, so if you can’t take the photo without a risk of damage, find another subject.
Shooting from the hip can be a wasteful technique, and in the beginning your success rate will be pretty low. But with the emergence of big digital memory cards, you can blast away to your heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that all the unwanted images can be deleted.
LOOK FOR A DIAGONAL
Diagonal lines can create a dynamic effect within an image. Underwater, look for the natural lines created by fishes’ bodies and corals, or ladders and contours of a shipwreck. Quite often, diagonal lines can be used to lead into a subject – the eye follows the line naturally into the picture, and it leads to the principal subject, whether that is the eye of a fish or a diver on a wreck.
WAS IT GOOD FOR YOU?
What makes a good shot? Well, first and foremost, if you like it yourself, that’s a good start. Next, you need to show it around – share it on DIVE’s website and see what the other photographers think. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’d be doing better if you had the latest amazing camera model – your photography will not improve in direct proportion to amount of money you spend. While new developments in photography can undoubtedly aid your pictures, it’s much better discipline to see how far you can improve using the kit you already have.
Finally, it’s a great ego boost to show your photos to non-divers, but you won’t get much in the way of constructive criticism. Most of them will simply be impressed by the fact that you’ve taken any sort of underwater picture at all.
• Paul Duxfield is digital-compact wizard at Cameras Underwater (www.camerasunderwater.co.uk )