You don’t need an expensive underwater housing to take underwater photos. In our latest DIY Photography Hacks post we show you how to use a common fish tank as a DIY housing to shoot sub-aqua landscapes.
Taking your camera under water can give you a completely new perspective on the landscape, but it would normally involve buying an expensive housing or waterproof camera.
This isn’t really a viable option if you just want to have a go at shooting underwater images, so here’s a low-cost, DIY photography alternative.
Putting your camera inside a watertight fish tank and using this as a waterproof housing may get you some odd looks, and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
However, with a bit of care and preparation you can get amazing images simply by shooting with the camera half-submerged in the water.
There’s an element of chance to the results, but with a bit of practice and a little luck you’ll find that you can get results where you have a view both of the landscape and what’s lying beneath the water.
This technique works best when you use a wide-angle lens. You’ll also need to set the camera to manual to get consistent results.
Once the camera is in the fish tank and the tank is submerged in the water you’ll have to take plenty of photographs from slightly different positions as you won’t be able to see the viewfinder or screen to compose your shot.
Finally, remember to check (and double-check!) that your camera is going to be safe once you get in the water, and make sure that you have got a very firm grip on the fish tank before you start.
How to shoot underwater photos the DIY photography way
01 Prepare the tank
Before you start, check that the tank is watertight. Without putting the camera in it, submerge it so that the water reaches halfway up the sides. If this is successful, dry the outside of the tank and make sure that the side that you are going to shoot through is as clean as possible.
02 Set up your camera
Switch to manual focus and manual exposure. Set a small aperture, such as f/11, to give plenty of depth of field, and set the shutter speed to give the correct exposure. Using a wide-angle lens you should set the focus to around three metres. Finally, attach a remote release.
03 Final preparations
Now put the camera into the tank. Keep the lens as close to the glass as possible to reduce the effect of reflections and marks on the glass. You may need to find something to keep the camera in position. Make sure that you can easily reach the remote release while holding the tank.
04 Go underwater
Enter the water slowly, as you don’t want to stir up mud and dirt, and gently push the tank under the water until the lens is half-covered. Take several shots, keeping the tank level. If you get water drops on the glass you may need to take it out of the water, clean it and start again.
Try using an ND grad filter, with the transition at water level so it will help reduce the contrast between under and above water.
Keep it Still
This isn’t a technique for the faint-hearted, so the first time you use the fish tank you will find it easier to hold it steady if you simply float it on the top of the water, rather than submerge it. You should also only try this out on still, calm water as spray and waves can easily enter the top of the tank.
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