The pristine coral reefs of Indonesia display an astounding level of biodiversity. The kaleidoscopic combination of hard and soft coral are surprising even to seasoned divers. In this entry on Raja Ampat, I will take you on a photo tour of this unique part of the Coral Triangle and its spectacular undersea world of color and light.
Getting a great shot underwater requires excellent SCUBA diving skills as well as photography skills. Diving needs to be second nature allowing you to spend time capture images. It is also a good idea to practice diving skills to control your own buoyancy effortlessly.
A housing will be needed to protect your DSLR or mirrorless camera underwater. The housing may need floats or weights to optimize its buoyancy, as you want it to be neutrally buoyant – neither sinking to the bottom nor rising to the surface.
Strobes are also necessary to light your subject. As you descend deeper you lose more and more light to refraction and objects start to appear bluish gray. Proper white balance and ample lighting fix this, and you generally need to be very close to your subject to light it properly. If you didn’t bring your white balance slate to use underwater, don’t worry, most image editing programs offer a fix in post production.
There are two popular ways of shooting underwater: with wide angle or macro lens setups. Wide angle is for bigger pelagic life or reef/wreck scenes and macro or super macro allow you to focus closely on much smaller subjects. For photos, strobes light subjects instantaneously like a flash while video lights provide sustained lighting for the entire length of your video. If you are using a GoPro, a red filter can be attached to the housing which corrects color. Several companies also make housings for your smart phone as well.