Putting Life in Strobeless Images - Underwater Photography with Mathieu Meur

Using filters offer an interesting alternative to traditional underwater images. Underwater photography with Mathieu Meur.Mathieu Meur is author of a number of books on underwater photography and will be conducting photography workshops as part of the 2011 Underwater Festival 2-11 September 2011.

Not everyone can afford to complement their underwater camera with external strobes. But shooting anything further than a meter or so away without external strobes often results in monochrome blue (or green) images. However, with the addition of a simple, affordable filter, things don't need to be so dull.

Even for those who do own a strobe, using filters offer an interesting alternative to traditional underwater images. Here are some tips on shooting with filters:

  1. Even in the clear blue of the Bunaken Marine Park, filters work best in shallow waters (say 15m or less). The filters will still help if you're shooting deeper, but the results won't be as stunning as at shallower depths.

  2. Make sure that the sun is above or behind you, so that your subject is receiving plenty of light.

  3. For best results, select a manual white balance and target a neutral portion of the reef, or even your hand. Check your camera manual on how to perform a manual white balance.

  4. Lighting conditions change fast with depth underwater. For best results, remember to redo a manual white balance every time that you change depth by more than a couple of meters.

  5. For best results, shoot straight or slightly downward. This will produce water with deep and rich colours.

  6. Filters also work great in low visibility, since they do not induce backscatter (“snowstorm effect”) like strobes do. Try it out on the colourful but seldom photographed reefs of Lembeh Straits.

  7. Choose the right filter for the right condition. We've found Magic Filters to work well.

  8. Don't be afraid to experiment! Filters offer lots of opportunities for trying new shooting techniques.

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