By Mathieu Meur
Underwater conditions are not always ideal for underwater photography. This doesn't mean that you should leave your camera behind when faced with the prospects of low visibility. Some techniques can prove very efficient in such conditions.
Know the area - Being familiar with the dive site helps you understand which subjects to look out for and where to look for them.
Go slow and open your eyes - Make sure to dive at a deliberately slow pace so as not to miss any opportunities. Also, there's less chance that you'll scare your subjects this way.
Strobe placement - Angle your strobe(s) inward, aiming slightly behind your subject for macro. Move them back behind the housing and aim slightly outward for wide angle. This minimises backscatter.
Strobe placement and lens selection - Select lenses that focus close to the port to reduce the amount of water between you and the subjects.
Get close - This is oft repeated under any conditions but is vital when shooting in low visibility: get close!
Use large aperture, slow shutter speeds and high ISO - If shooting in manual mode set a large aperture. This reduces the amount of strobe power required to light up your subject, which means less backscatter. Selecting a higher ISO also achieves the same result.
Make use of the vertical water column - Vertical visibility is better than sideways visibility. Shooting up will make the water appear clearer than it actually is as more light comes through.
Use Natural light and filters - Instead of using strobe(s), take natural light or filter shots instead. No backscatter guaranteed!
PhotoShop to the rescue - Should the worst happen, it is relatively easy to remove some obvious spots of backscatter in PhotoShop using the Healing Brush Tool. The Levels or Curves tools can also help balance foreground and background in case of problems due to poor conditions.
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