I’m pretty sure that like me, a lot of people aren’t just interested in underwater photography when they travel to the farther flung reaches of our planet and that they also like to take some topside pictures too. But which is the best camera for that?
There are little stories everywhere, that can be captured in a couple of shots.
And with the rise of social media platforms like Instagram (ours is scubauwphoto) then telling little photo stories is becoming more and more popular.
The Best Camera ?
And nowadays you always have a camera on hand,and by that I mean your camera phones.
Now I know a lot of you will belittle the abilities of your camera phone, but it’s here that I’d like to affect an attitude change.
There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, and often circumstances dictate that our Canikon or Olympanny X550 happens to be at home, or more usually for us underwater photographers, encased inside an underwater housing with a fisheye lens and a brace of strobes attached, not exactly conducive to a quick topside grab shot, and even if we were to liberate it from the housing and attached the relevant lens then the moment may well have gone.
So the only image making tool you can swing into action with is your phone camera.
So don’t sulk that you haven’t got your ‘proper’ camera and try not to obsess about the difference in qualitative output, it’s the pictures and not the pixels that really count in the end.
Some of the most memorable shots of the 20th Century were taken not because the photographer had the most state of the art equipment, but that they happened to be in the right place at the right time.
And if you looked a little closer the kit they used would have been way less sophisticated and able than any modern camera phone.
The pictures and captions in this post follow a typical example of how I’ve used what was available to try and illustrate beyond just a fish picture that in this case the split shot at the top of the post is displaying.
And this was shot in a little village on the tiny island of Ambon which is part of the Indonesian Archipelago.
Use whatever you have available
We had finished diving for the trip and for the last day our hosts led by Joe Daniels gave us a lovely day out, this village and its freshwater eels ( top picture) have become a draw for tourists and a source of income for the locals, who draw out these impressive creatures from below ledges and rocks in a fast flowing stream, by dropping fish bits into the water flow.
They’ve become so habituated that they will feed out of your hand, and made for a great photo opportunity on our last day.
So I decided the best way was to try some split shots, and to read up more about this technique please have a look here and here.
After many attempts I managed to get some keepers, and my intention was to have some smiling locals and hopefully a big eel in the foreground.
On the walk back through the village to our vehicles though we were invited many times by the children to take their pictures or to join in and play football.
The children really were the smiling heart and soul of this little village and were fundamental to the success of the eel escapades, as they made sure we were in good positions to get shots, placed the bait into the water flow upstream and escorted us laughing and joking to and from our vehicles.
So I really wanted to do them justice.
The other two pictures illustrating this were taken with my bigger camera rig, mercifully smaller than a typical DSLR setup by being mirrorless, so it was still unwieldy encased in its housing but just manageable.
Although too much of a faff to take off its fisheye lens which was used for the first two shots.
The final parting shot was taken looking into the tiny school room they were using and as literally a grab shot, with all of them smiling except for one more reflective child central to the composition.
This shot my favourite of the sequence and one of my favourite shots ever was taken on my iPhone, nothing fancy. And I probably got such a natural result because it was less intimidating than my bigger set up.
Just because your on an UW photo workshop doesn’t mean you can’t shoot topside!
So please don’t dismiss your compact cameras or phone cameras just because you have a more sophisticated camera, and learn how to squeeze the most from all your available cameras as you never know what may present itself to you when all you have on you is your phone.
Please don’t forget to shoot around your underwater pictures when on a trip, as this will give you more options to tell and illustrate stories, and will raise your game to more photojournalistic levels.
If you’d like to join me on a photo trip then please check out my trips pages here.
They are for all comers and I really don’t care what type of camera you are shooting with I will do my best to show you how to get the best from whatever kit you’re using.