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Top Underwater Photography Tips

2 min read

The waters around the extraordinary Galapagos Islands are a photographer's wonderland. This area is home to a remarkable collection of species - according to the Galapagos Conservancy, more than 20% of the marine species in the Galapagos are unique.

Photo credit: Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism
Photo credit: Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism

Galapagos waters house a rare miscellany of marine life forms, the world's only marine iguana, unique red lipped batfish, huge sun fish that feed on vast quantities of jellyfish and the biggest of all fish, the whale shark,. Enormous numbers of hammerhead sharks with their oddly shaped heads, a large assortment of whales, black lizards that swim, and the most northern-living penguins in the world can all be captured during a Galapagos Islands photography expedition.

Photo credit: Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism

Optimal Equipment for Underwater Photography

Digital cameras have made exceptional underwater photos achievable for everyone. In Galapagos, you can photograph massive sea lions performing an underwater exhibition; pods of bottle-nosed and white-bellied dolphins swimming to the surface of the ocean for fascinating silhouette opportunities; and sea turtles, sea lions, and extraordinary, multi-colored fish.

According to Sterling Zumbrunn in A Beginner's Guide to Underwater Photography, the economical GoPro Hero4 Silver edition is an optimum camera for novice photographers looking to experiment. We agree - in fact, we gave away a GoPro last year as a top prize in our polar photography contest.

The GoPro comes with dive ready housing and a wide-angle lens. The housing protects the equipment against the corrosive effects of salt water, and the wide lens allows you to get closer to the amazing marine life of the Galapagos.

The GoPro Hero4 Black offers more advanced features for experienced photographers, offering 4k/30P resolution and 1080/120fps options, still at a reasonable price.

The GoPro features a dive housing for photographers that want to dive to 60 meters (197 ft), however external lighting is necessary for shooting in deep water. It performs well when using Flip 3.1 filters, blended with artificial light, to produce an exceptionally saturated and colorful result. 

Tips & Tricks for Capturing Active Marine Life on Camera

Photo credit: Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism
Photo credit: Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism

To capture active marine life, get close and use a lens with a wide field of view. While shooting a whale shark in the Galapagos you will want to capture every detail. Water takes up light and light levels decline as you get deeper in water. Water also reduces contrast and clarity in photos so get as close as possible to the creature you want to shoot. Stay relaxed and concentrate on accurately framing that perfect shot.

Playing with Underwater Light

The brightest conditions underwater happen on a sunny day. In the Galapagos, the amount of light that enters the ocean depends on water conditions, weather and time of day. Strobes can be used to add color back to subjects as water absorbs different wavelengths of light to dissimilar degrees. Objects underwater appear 25% closer than they actually are.

Shooting upwards towards the surface generally produces magnificent pictures. The sun's rays infiltrate the water, lighting up marine life and creating a reflection on the surface. To avoid flat photos, slow down shutter speed, use 1/30 sec or slower to brighten images in deep water. Slowing down the speed can be used to create movement in still images. This technique works best with wide angle photography.

Photo credit: Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism
Photo credit: Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism

Photograph Rich Marine Life around the Galapagos Islands

Diving and swimming just offshore the Galapagos Islands allows you to easily access the incredibly diverse and colorful species inhabiting these waters. Contact an experienced Travel Adviser today to learn more about this stunning expedition cruise hotspot, a photographer's dream destination!

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