Get the un­der­wa­ter look

Practical Photography (UK) - - October -

I re­ally love those ‘split’ wa­ter shots where the photo is taken half in and half out of the wa­ter. I’m guess­ing you need some ex­pen­sive kit to get the ef­fect? Toby Foster, York

Dan says: The sort of shots you’re talk­ing about do look ab­so­lutely amaz­ing Toby, and some of them will be taken on very ex­pen­sive un­der­wa­ter cam­eras, or with DSLRs placed in­side spe­cial­ist un­der­wa­ter cases built for the ap­pli­ca­tion. But a lit­tle in­ge­nu­ity, and a piece of equip­ment that can be picked up for a few pounds from any on­line auc­tion site, can also do the job.

All you need is an old fish tank, and a cam­era that, if it got a bit wet, wouldn’t mean the end of the world to you!

Step by step

Once you’ve got hold of an old fish tank, the first thing to do is give it a re­ally good clean so your cam­era gets the clear­est pos­si­ble view through the glass or per­spex. Spray­ing the out­side of the tank with a ‘rain clear’ chem­i­cal used on car wind­screens will also help.

Set your cam­era up in man­ual mode and in man­ual fo­cus. This will en­sure that as you move in and out of the wa­ter the cam­era won’t con­stantly ad­just it­self. Set a medium aper­ture such as f/8-f/11 to en­sure a de­cent depth-of-field and ad­just the ISO un­til you have a com­fort­able shut­ter speed, ide­ally above 1/60sec. Fo­cus about one-third of the way into the scene and lock the fo­cus.

Place your cam­era in the fish tank (see be­low), with the lens as close to the glass as pos­si­ble. Bal­ance the weight of the cam­era by putting some bal­last at the other end of the tank.

Then, slowly push the tank into the wa­ter un­til the cam­era is half in and half out and shoot your sub­ject – us­ing Live View will make this eas­ier, es­pe­cially if you have a tilt­ing screen.

You can pro­tect your cam­era from splashes by putting it in­side a freezer bag and cut­ting a hole for the lens.

Left Place an old DSLR in a fish tank, im­merse it in wa­ter, and you can cre­ate great ‘split’ wa­ter shots.

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