Most sharks can be skittish, don"t use too broad a lens, or too slow-moving of a lens.the 12-24mm or 17-35mm are an excellent choices. Collection your strobes top top manual, low strength - be mindful not come blow the end their white underbellies.

You are watching: Why are sharks so hard to photograph?

*

I think sharks look best when photographed from slightly below, so you deserve to see the side and belly of the shark. Photograph by rand McMeins.

Lens options for sharks

You have the right to use a 10-17mm fisheye lens because that sharks you recognize you can get close to, and schooling shots

10-17mm fisheye lenses are generally too wide. Use the 12-24mm rectilinear variety for much more skittish sharks, and also closeup shots. The focal length lengths room for cropped-sensor cameras. If shooting full frame, the 17mm - 70mm variety is best, particularly 17-35mm. Usage a fast lens through a maximum aperture that F2.8 or F4 and also a continuous aperture throughout the selection for ideal results.

Where to picture Sharks

Tiger Beach, Bahamas in the Caribbean

Tiputa pass, Rangiroa, Tahiti

*

Silky Sharks, Malpelo Island close to Cocos. Nikon 12-24mm at 22mm. F8, 1/125th, ISO 200. Photo by Randy Harwood.

*

For reef sharks, the background can make every the difference. Work tough to obtain a good, colorful background.

Here"s some shark photography advice from professional Photographer Andy Sallmon:

Set your exposure because that M (manual), ISO 200, collection shutter rate to 1/125 or faster, never slower as even a relocating shark will have actually motion blur at slower speeds.

Use just high power strobes prefer the Sea and also Sea YS-250 or Ikelite DS 200 for rapid recycle time. Collection your strobe (s) to 1/4 power or less to maintain a fast recycle time and tame down the power to protect against overexposure that the sharks white underbelly.

Try F5.6 for far away shots or dark background water, F8 for tool distances and also average elevator water, or F11 because that close shots and bright conditions.

Vary strobe strength as essential to minimize overexposed whites of the sharks underbelly.


Additional Shark Photography Tips:

Turn off her strobes if the shark is more than 5ft away

When using your strobes, you must be mindful to protect against backscatter and also blowing out the highlights the the shark"s ventral side. Careful strobe placement and also use of short strobe power setups will enhance the quality of your images.

*


Oceanic whitetip shark, photo by Andy Sallmon.

Diving in cages with great white sharks has actually it"s own set of challenges. Some spots in cages are far better than others, for this reason make certain your trip hosts will turn with the other passengers prior to going ~ above a trip. You likewise can"t obtain so scared you can"t push the camera shutter. Space you ready to shot your hand at great White shark diving?

Silvery Fish

Turn down your strobes. Irradiate from silvery fish is reflect directly back to you, so put your strobes on short power. Usage a rapid shutter rate if the fish are moving conveniently to freeze your motion.

*

Ihad to put my strobes on manual power come shoot these silvery jacks.

Sea Fans - gain close, usage a 10mm fisheye lens, because that maximum color saturation. Don"t over exposure the colors, watch your 3-color histogram because that blown out colors.

*

I shooting this sea pan from around 18 inches away at 14mm, Ishould have actually opened up to 10mm and also got also closer, however I didn"t desire to danger too much backscatter.

*

Here"s I"m shooting in ~ 10mm v my fisheye lens. I"m much less than 2ft away, and also got pretty color and also sharpness.

Bottom Dwellers - gain low, right on challenge shots

*

Getting short for a bottom-dweller shot. Photograph by Kevin Lee

Jellies and also pelagic invertebrates - ideal with side lighting or ago lighting

*

Small jelly through sidelighting

Black fish - use hand-operated strobe power, use side lighting to highlight detail on the fish.. Try to highlight the eye in the photo. Clip with various strobe settings and positions.

*

Frogfish indigenous Alor, Indonesia. Picture by Bonnie Pelnar. This frogfish was overexposed and also high-pass sharpening was used in photoshop. F13, 1/60th, ISO200, D300, 105mm lens

Black and also white subjects - these subjects will frequently look ideal in front-lighting, as result of their greater contrast.

Strong surge - it strong surge you should have actually a couple of extra pounds on her weight belt, let much more air the end of your BCD. Shoot macro through your strobes (no approximately light), usage the fast sync speed of the strobes to frozen objects that are swaying in the surge. If the image aren"t sharp, open up your aperture or shoot at a greater ISO to gain a much shorter strobe explode duration.

Low light - in low light situations, such as at twilight or when you are really deep, you might need to increase your ISO to acquire the depth the field and shutter speeds that you want for a shot. Slow shutter speeds will be necessary for wide-angle shots if girlfriend don"t want the background to be dark. Worse case, shot to at least use a shutter speed of 1/10th - 1/20th of a 2nd for WA shots of still objects. Try to organize the camera really still to stop camera shake.

If there are relocating objects, her only choices will be to frozen their movement with her strobes, or shoot large open aperture (your largest aperture your lens will allow) and also increase her ISOuntil you obtain the shutter rate you need.

High comparison shots- high comparison shots can be fairly dramatic, and involve very bright areas and also dark shadowy areas. Shooting at base ISO to get the most dynamic selection out of your camera.

Fast-moving fish

use your strobe to freeze the activity of fast-moving fish. You"ll more than likely be shooting mixed ambient light + strobe light, so use a shutter rate on at least 1/125th to frozen the motion, unless you are going for a an innovative effect.

*

Three dolphins, bahamas. Picture by Kelly Bracken. D100, Nikon 16mm lens, 1/125th, F5.6. Shutter priority mode was supplied for this shot, no strobes to be used. Kelly to be snorkeling/freediving in 15ft that water because that this shot. The sharpness the the shot, diagonal composition, and surface in ~ the optimal of the photo all aid make this a beautiful shot.

Low visibility

top top a short visibility dive, you"ll desire a lens that can focus close, prefer a 60mm macro lens for little subjects, or a Tokina 10-17mm for huge subjects obtain as near as possible to her subjects. Zoom her Tokina out as large as possible. Shot to shoot closer than 12 inches.

Put the strobes the end wide, spicy slightly the end to reduce backscatter. Use a dive irradiate or emphasis light to aid your lens focus on the subject. Don"t let low visibility deter you from taking an excellent photos! Just shot not to shoot through an ext of a few inches of water, and you"ll be fine.

*

Visibility top top this dive to be 15ft in ~ most, but by shooting an extremely wide and also bringing mine strobes much out, Iwas maybe to acquire some shots.

Skittish fish in the water column -

You may need to organize your breath to method fish. They will be fear from the sound of your exhaust. Also, friend can direct your dive buddy to swim behind the fish, steering them in the direction of you. This will aid you get fish-head shots, instead of fish tail shots. Visit our guide to fish photography.

Shooting White Sea Bass and other topics that blend right into the water

*

White sea base in Malibu, CA, freediving, low visibility. F10, ISO640, 1/125th. If Iwent the end again, ns might shot F7, ISO 400, 1/160th. For a compact camera, I"d usage F5, ISO200, 1/160th. Due to the fact that my lens was also wide, Ihad to chop this photo. A mid-range zoom lens or compact camera may have functioned better.

White sea bass are a an excellent example the a skittish fish that is difficult to approach. With fish choose this, the best method to strategy is by freediving, there is no scuba gear. As soon as freediving, I"ll often use just 1 strobe to minimize drag. For finest light levels, I"ll try to walk only when it"s clear out. Placed your strobe out as far as it will go, and point it outwards to reduce backscatter. Try to swim under so you space at the exact same level as the fish or slightly below, don"t shoot "down" in ~ the fish if possible. White sea bass will commonly make one quick pass, so be ready. It helps to really recognize your camera emphasis modes to gain the fastest possible focus, and adjust your zoom before head. Here"s an post on shoot in short light or low contrast problems underwater. If the vis is no good, that renders it even much more important to obtain as close come the fish together possible.

Strong Currents - usage reef hooks if possible, to continue to be in one place, yet never use reef hooks top top live coral. Make sure you safeguard your dome ports indigenous crashing into rocks. Include a pair extra pounds to her weight belt before the dive.

See more: Why Do Passive Margins Have No Trenches, Active And Passive Continental Margins

Over-unders have been moved:

Over-under and also split-shot photography

Nudibranchs have been moved:

Nudibranch photography

People - photographing models underwater

Keep the eye of the human being in focus. Talk about communication and hand signals prior to hand. Expect that it will take a pair of dives to work out every one of the hand signals.Don"t shooting bubbles. Interact ahead of time around your design possibly holding their breath for a moment during a shot. Tell the model not to look in ~ the camera, of food they should occasionally glance in ~ the camera to check out your hand signals. Examine their devices for dangling hoses that might not look good in a photo. Skin tones that a design usually look finest using a strobe at between 5000-5500K. The ideal model is someone you recognize well, ideally a spouse that will design for hrs without complain or asking for any money. Shots in darker water through a model holding a bright dive irradiate or HID light can have a nice dramatic look. And last, I’ll to speak it again, discuss your goals & hand signals ahead that time, prior to each dive, v your dive buddy or design to do the many of the dive.