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This month Paul Duxfield spices up composition
So what do snappers do to maintain harmonious relationships with their buddies, and achieve great shots with divers in them?
Last issue, we looked at creative composition. This month, we continue on that theme showing the impact that a well-placed diver can give to a shot – giving a sense of scale and occupying empty areas in order to help with composition.
Good communication is the key, both before and during the dive. Decide on some clear hand signals. These should include signals for ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘stop’.
It’s a good idea to discuss with your buddy/model the idea you might have for a shot. For example, a bow-on image of a wreck with a lone diver hanging off to one side in the blue to give an impression of scale or, perhaps, a moody silhouette with your buddy being the focus of attention.
Talking it over beforehand will make life much easier for both of you, as you can decide what position you would like your buddy to adopt, whether he or she is side-on to you or, perhaps, facing you with a torch in hand – even during a day dive, a lit torch can be a useful prop to create a focal point and add a splash of colour to an otherwise monochromatic scene.
WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE?
You can, of course, use any divers (not necessarily only your buddy) in the water to good effect. This requires some anticipation and guesswork. You’ll need to guess what their planned route is and get yourself into a good position, so that when they swim into frame you can press the shutter release.
Make sure you take photographs of divers from a flattering angle, being careful to make sure limbs are in a pleasing position, and all in frame. Try not to shoot them from behind – larger-framed buddies will not thank you for showing the world that they have been dodging salads for the last few years! Try to photograph your divers in profile, or maybe at an angle looking towards your viewpoint.
It can look very dramatic if the diver in frame is in one of the corners of the shots in silhouette, or swimming overhead, giving a counterpoint to a big school of fish. If there is more than one diver in shot, you need to think about where all divers are in the frame so that one doesn’t obscure another. Wait for the right moment so that their positioning complements one another.
Changing your position relative to the shot in hand is also important: a few inches of variation in your viewpoint can alter the scene you are viewing dramatically, and to do this effectively, you need to practise.
When used to good effect, divers can impart a sense of scale and drama to a photograph. They can help to illustrate to non-divers just how much fun and adventure can be had while diving. Buddies who have little interest in photography can also benefit, and will not be so impatient if they are aware that they may be the subjects of your next masterpiece.
• Paul Duxfield (www.paulduxfield.co.uk)
• Talk over your intended shots with your buddy beforehand. Establish their role and where you would like them to be
• If you know the site, think about the shot you would like and get yourself into position in plenty of time to allow divers to swim into frame
• Be patient: your buddy and others are not mind readers and won’t necessarily understand your signals to them unless discussed prior to the dive