Beating the Underwater Photography Blues: How to Use the Polaroid CUBE+ as a Diving Camera
Capturing color is one of the trickiest problems faced by amateur and professional photographers alike. The deeper you dive, the less light makes its way down through the ocean. At just 15 feet down, you’ll lose red light; at 25 feet orange; at 35 to 45 feet yellow; and at 70 to 75 feet green. When we dive, our brains naturally compensate for some color loss, which is one reason why underwater photographs of coral and brightly colored fish can look so different than what we remember seeing! The good news is that you don’t have to invest in an expensive underwater diving camera and strobe light kit to still take amazing underwater photos – just plan a shallower dive!
Shallow dive sites (10 to 20 feet deep) receive more natural sunlight, which means that colors are naturally more vivid. Not only can you enjoy longer dive times at shallower depths, but also you’ll find that it’s much easier to photograph the incredible fish and coral in all their brilliance. These three sites are home to some of the best shallow diving photo-ops – and you can capture all the magic on the Polaroid CUBE+ with its waterproof digital camera case.
Dive Destination: Dicky’s Place, Garove, Papua New Guinea
A popular stop on the MV FeBrina liveaboard out of Walinidi Resort, Dicky’s is the perfect shallow afternoon dive destination following a morning of deeper dives. The horseshoe-shaped remains of a volcanic caldera protect this shallow, isolated bay where you’ll spot colorful anemone fish, pipefish, seahorses, eels and plenty of crustaceans amongst the sea grass.
Pro Tip: While you never want to touch any underwater creatures, try to get as close as possible when taking your photographs. Horizontal distance can also impact color loss. So even if you’re just 10 feet underwater, if you’re also 10 feet from your subject, that means light has actually traveled 20 feet, so you may start losing red in your photographs. Swim in closer to prevent this color loss.
Dive Destination: Two Steps, Kona Coast, Hawaii, USA
As the name implies, it’s just a short two-step entry down into the spectacular undersea lavascape at Honaunau Bay on Hawaii’s Kona Coast. Stick to the cliff edges and shallows where most of the fish and coral gardens thrive. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, spinner dolphins and seals.
Pro tip: Underwater objects appear about 25% closer than they really and about 33% larger because the index of light refraction is greater underwater than in the air. Any flat surface, including your dive mask and waterproof digital camera housing will cause this magnification to occur. To reduce the impact of magnification on your photos, get close (preferably 12 inches) and shoot upwards for better lighting.
Dive Destination: Los Islotes, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Los Islotes is home to a colony of curious sea lions that spin and somersault their way through the shallow waters. The sea lion pups are known to playfully interact with divers’ fins and hoodies– you’ll want to capture all the fun on an underwater video camera.
Pro Tip: Underwater composition can be tricky, especially when dealing with larger moving objects, like sea lions. Don’t worry about centering the pups or following the rule of thirds. Instead, try to fill the frame with your sea lion subject. Or, switch to video mode on the Polaroid CUBE+ to better capture the sea lions’ playful antics.