Underwater Photography An introduction into documenting the underwater world

It’s almost time for my underwater stills photography course at Blue Wilderness on the South Coast’s Aliwal Shoal. Hosted by team Blue Wilderness,  I’m always excited to get back to the diverse and shark rich reefs of Aliwal Shoal.

Here’s some info to help you decide if this course is for you. I try to run this over a weekend but you’d need to take Friday off work. We will do a total of four dives.

Day one: 

We meet for a coffee and delve into your underwater camera/housing and it’s buttons and settings; we take a look at possible upgrades and why you could and even if you should! After that, we move into the basics of shooting in all the modes your camera will allow including the ultimate trip- full manual mode.  We will talk about maintenance and preparation of your equipment and by then you’ve had enough of me talking.  After a lunch break, we will spend the afternoon in the pool practising and you can ask me all your questions. We will prepare the cameras for the next day. Later, there’s an introduction to Adobe Lightroom, my post-processing program of choice. I’ll give you an overview of the interface.

Cost

R4900 p.p

includes:

  • 3 x nights accommodation
  • 4 x dives with SCUBA rental gear
  • Course tuition

Day two:

We will do a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills to be practised on that day and then we hit the water with a vengeance. We do two dives and they are usually both macro dives on this day, conditions permitting. After a well-deserved lunch, it’s back to some theory. We’ll be looking at your shots from the morning and learning more about Lightroom at the same time. After the crit. session and a coffee we will get back into some more theory and cover such topics as wide-angle shooting; perfect strobe placement; use of ambient light; reading the ‘peak of the moment’. The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the library and develop modules. We will set up our cameras for the next morning and then it’s time to relax.

Day three:

As usual, there’s a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we will practise and today it’s wide-angle we are concentrating on. We whip around the reefs seeking our sharks and turtles, both of which abound at the shoal. Same as day two, we do a crit session and then it’s time to choose some photos that really worked and some that really didn’t and to do a group discussion- helping each other to find out why- based on what you’ve been taught. Now, it’s time to really apply the knowledge you’ve acquired over the past 2 days. I will preside of course !! The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the remaining modules, esp. the slideshow module and how to watermark and export correctly.

As a bonus, and only if you tag my courses,  I’ll also show you how to quickly get your best shots out onto social media, appropriately watermarked and resized so they can’t be stolen. For those who aren’t rushing off back to work, on this final evening, we will present a combined slideshow and presentation of certificates whilst enjoying a braai.

That’s a wrap.

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Underwater Photography An introduction into documenting the underwater world

It’s almost time for my next beginner’s underwater photography course at Gozo Azul in Ponta do Ouro. It’s super easy to get into the town these days on the new tar road. Hosted by the co-owners of Gozo Azul, Natalie and Marcus,  I’m always excited to get back to the diverse and rich Ponto reef.  I love to teach in Ponto. Firstly, the weather and conditions in the protected bay are indeed a natural wonder, and this means we always get to dive and complete our course. Secondly, we will be diving in a marine reserve and as a result, the reefs and fish life are in great condition.

This vibey little town is still a great place for divers and non-divers alike. There is a safe swimming beach a short, 5/10-minute walk from virtually anywhere so if you want to bring a non-diving spouse or friend they can go snorkelling or fishing, 4 x4 adventuring or walking on the beaches.

They could also take a dolphin trip with local legendary dolphin lady and guru Angie Gullan who you can find here. It’s a fascinating and quirky little town with some quaint markets, restaurants and shops to explore.

Cost

R6450 p.p

includes:

  • 4 x nights accommodation
  • 6 x dives with rental gear
  • Course tuition

Here’s some info on what I cover to start my students out on this fantastic adventure of underwater photography.

Day one: 

We meet for a  wake-me-up caffeine kick and then delve into your underwater camera, and it’s buttons and settings; we take a look at possible upgrades and why you could or should. Next, we move into the basics of shooting in all the modes your camera will allow including the ultimate – full manual mode.  We will talk about maintenance and preparation of your equipment, and by then you’ve had enough of me talking, and it’s time to set up your equipment.  After a lunch break, we will spend a few hours in the pool practising everything learned in the morning session. Here you can ask me loads of questions. We will prep. the cameras for the next day. After a quick shower and tea, there’s an overview of the Adobe Lightroom workspace and how to download your photos safely. A quick dinner and you’ll be in bed early as it’s a long day for your brain!

Day two:

Whoop Whoop- it’s time to dive baby.  We will do a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we are using for the day and then we hit the water with a vengeance. We do two dives, and they are usually both macro dives on this first dive day. After a well-deserved lunch and perhaps a power nap, it’s back to some theory. We’ll be downloading and looking at your shots from the morning and learning more about the Lightroom library area at the same time. After the crit. Session and a coffee we will get back into some more theory and cover such topics as wide-angle shooting; perfect strobe placement; use of ambient light; reading the ‘peak of the moment’. Adobe Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the develop module. We will set up our cameras for day 3 and then it’s time to chill and enjoy the Moz vibes.

Day three:

As usual, there’s a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we will practise and today it’s wide-angle we are concentrating on. We whip around the reefs on 2 spectacular dives and then it’s time to feed the ravenous and have a nap. Same as day two, we do a crit session and then it’s time to choose some photos that really worked and some that really didn’t and to do a group discussion- helping each other to find out why- based on what you’ve been taught. Now, it’s time to really apply the knowledge you’ve acquired over the past 2 days. I will preside of course !! The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the remaining modules, esp. the slideshow module and how to watermark and export correctly. We get the cameras ready for the last 2 dives – Yes- there are 2 more dives on this course. Fantastic. Six dives will definitely help you to get your skills deeply practised.

Day four:

On this day you can choose whether you’d like to do macro or wide-angle and I’ll be guiding you through some new techniques and introducing some new concepts. I’ll give you some examples of shots I’d like you to try and re-create, using your shiny new skills. After these two dives, there’s a short lunch gap (and maybe a nap if you eat fast) before attacking those computers to prepare our slide-shows in Lightroom. I’ll also show you how to get your best shots out onto social media, appropriately watermarked and resized so they can’t be stolen. After all, they’ll be THAT desirable! On this final evening, we will present a combined slideshow and presentation of certificates whilst enjoying a braai.

That’s a wrap.

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Not only is it an intense trip for thousands of ocean-loving humans to gasp at, totally aghast,  but it’s a vital event for the well-being of the oceans. The Sardine Run provides much needed fatty food for thousands of predators that move with the tiny slivers of oily silver, sucking them down at any opportunity.

Particularly noteworthy are the young of the year, especially the Common dolphins. After weaning, this is a first significant feeding opportunity for the young dolphins and can set them up for life. Ever prevalent are sharks such as duskys, black-tips and bronze whalers. Also typical are thousands of whirling, squawking Cape gannets dive-bombing the fish and Brydes whales gulping the tiny critters down in huge lunges. A personal favourite are the acrobatic Cape fur seals providing hours of amusement with criss-crossing tumble turns. Humpback whales add to the mélange as they head North on their annual migration to calf in warmer waters further up the coast.

As each player in this feeding frenzy comes together, there is a spectacular feeding event that occurs. This lends itself to fantastic photo and video opportunities.

 

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

The conditions can be harsh, with cold winds, towering seas, lousy visibility at times, and long days out on the water. However, for those who are in love with the ocean and everything it has to offer, it’s a spectacle that simply cannot be missed. On certain days everything just seems to come together, and you can be rewarded with 8 plus metres of viz and many bait balls throughout the day. In 2018 the opportunity for this has probably been improved by the cutting of Sardine fishing quotas of Cape waters in 2017.

This year I decided to try and depict intense frenzy and movement in my pictures. Instead of the perfectly framed shot, I chose to show movement and the frantic feeling of the chase. I only had 2 days on the water this June but was lucky to find a small bait ball on day one! This is a small group of fish that has been skillfully balled together by dolphins using bubble screens. This creates an opportunity for the gannets to plunge down into the ball at 120 km p/h to pluck off unwary fish. Watching wildlife feeding is taken to an intense level on the Sardine run as the diver becomes part of the action, and this is something I really wanted my photos to show.

I hope you enjoy my selection of pictures from 2018 and I look forward to showing you what I believe is one of the wildest things you can currently do, off the coast of South Africa. Each year I lead small groups of photographers from mid-May to mid-June, and we launch off East London. I choose this area as there are only two boats providing tours here, as opposed to Port St Johns, the other venue. In Port St Johns one can have up to ten boats on one small bait ball. While this is fantastic for general tourism and is highly recommended as a trip for ocean lovers, it isn’t great for photographers. So why not consider joining my photographic boat in 2019? I give detailed advice, if you require it, based on my five years on the Sardine Run. I think it’s going to be even bigger and better than I’ve seen for many years given that the fishing quotas in have stayed down in 2018.

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Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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Each year, I guide sardine run expeditions through my husband’s company Blue Wilderness. Please click below to see our next years sardine run expeditions

Ponta do Ouro is booming. There’s a new road, almost finished, and the locals are building their guesthouses and expecting great things. Certainly, it’s becoming easier to get there. When I first visited Ponta in the early nineties, it took two full days, and sometimes three, to get to the Ponta beach front from Johannesburg. The roads from Mbazwana (near Sodwana Bay) were all still soft sand. By August 2018, you will be able to drive from the Ponta border post to the Ponta main beach within about 20/30 minutes and for the most part, on tar. Hosted by Natalie and Marcus from the popular dive and travel centre, Gozo Azul, I was excited to get back to Ponta.

I hadn’t visited since the devastation of the ‘great fire’ in 2010. I was pleasantly surprised. Ponta is still a great place for divers and non-divers alike. There is a safe swimming beach a short, 5/10-minute walk from virtually anywhere in Ponta. If you don’t dive, you can go snorkelling or fishing. If you hate the sea, you can go 4 x4 adventuring or walking on the beaches. Why not take a dolphin trip with local legendary dolphin lady and guru Angie Gullan who you can find here.   The special elephant reserve is much easier to get to now, and so game drives are feasible. It’s actually becoming a fascinating and quirky little town with some quaint markets, restaurants and shops to explore. In the 26 year long civil war that ravaged the area, many shops and homes were plundered and burnt. These have primarily been lovingly restored now, and there are also new wooden chalet developments

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

I visited some local inshore dive sites and was enchanted as always, by the antics of the fish and other reef inhabitants. Here are some of my recommendations based on this recent trip, however, there are many more great dive sites in Ponta. For me, one of the most amazing things about Ponta is that you can visit it virtually any time of year- and it’ll be great weather, and dive-able. The weather and conditions in the protected bay are indeed a natural wonder.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit all of my favourite dive sites, but in hindsight, it was a blessing, as I got to see that the inshore reefs are incredible in their own right. I was delighted to be paired up with amazing DM Charlie, who quickly became a friend. She let me travel far and wide over the reef but I could see she always had her eye on me. It’s always a supreme pleasure to dive with skipper extraordinaire Dee- what a Moz legend.

Here’s some information on the sites I got to visit as depicted in the photos. When you go, please try out some of the others too. I love and recommend these- Bass City, Atlantis, Maverick’s and Rianna’s arch.

Doodles (14-16m):
This is one of the best-loved dives in Ponta and for good reason. It’s a small and shallow reef comprised of scattered boulders and small ledges. There’s plenty life to search for, and divers always come back with tales of the large honeycomb morays, inquisitive potato bass, and having seen rays chilling off in the sandy patches. Curious looking paper fish abound here and are virtually always seen and have been for many years now.

Steve’s Ledge (15-17m):

If you love peering into sandy gullies and under ledges, finding the little jewels the reef offers up, then this is a site for you. The shelves are full of clownfish and nudibranchs. There are many cowfish and puffer fish and devil fire-fish patrol the reefs looking for grub. Lookout for egg-shell cowries and hermit crabs walking around, even in daylight.

Steps (13-16m):

Ledges and small gullies are the order of the day here. It’ s a place rich with schooling fish and soft corals. It’s actually an underwater photographers ‘dream dive’. I find it fascinating that so few of my colleagues know this. In my opinion, this dive is superbly under-rated, and if you love photography, then I suggest you try it out.

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Creche (12-13m):

Thousands of glittering fish darting everywhere are the highlight of this dive. It’s like diving into a lucky packet full of sweeties. It’ s a shallow flat reef with sandy patches and you should look out for well-camouflaged crocodile fish and scorpion fish.

Checkers (16-19 m):

This site is comprised of blocky boulders festooned with bright pink and red corals, bright orange sponges and even hard plate coral. Look for frogfish and ribbon eels. I saw quite a few chunky mantis shrimp ogling me with multi-faceted eyes.

Pinnacles(32-37m):

Recommended for experienced divers only. Made up of two ledges with an old anchor and chain draped along the inshore ridge. You’ll see the odd free swimming honeycomb moray eel, schooling bannerfish, potato bass and sharks. At certain times of year pickhandle barracuda, king mackerel, ignobilis kingfish and wahoo congregate on the reef attracting different shark species.

Fiona Profile

Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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How exciting. I wish some other places in the world would follow suit- and fast! The Cook Islands, an archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean, are creating the world largest protected sanctuary: 1.9 million square kilometers! New Zealander, Kevin Iro, rugby player, and environmental activist, launched the idea five years ago. Local government has just validated the proposal. For Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, the objective of this project is to make his country the greenest destination on the planet by preserving the islands and their paradisical visage:

He said

“We had (together) the vision of making our Small country the greenest tourist destination in the world. Not only do we recognize that we benefit from the ocean in terms of fishing, tourism and seabed richness, but it also brings us clean air, clean water and food”.If you google cook islands just look at the pictures that it spits out. OMW!

 

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

Of these 1.9 square kilometers, 320 000 hectares will be totally closed to fishing and mining activities. The rest of the area will not be subject to these prohibitions, but the beauty of the area has to be respected. This sanctuary which is nearly the size of Mexico is called “Marae Moana”. Moana means “large body of water” in Hawaiian and Maori (a Polynesian language).

I really want to visit the cook islands now. Anyone keen to join me? On second thoughts, perhaps it’s a good place to go and live? Here is where it’s situated.

 

Fiona Profile

Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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Just in case you need them, here are my Top 10 reasons to enter the Sodwana Bay Photographic Competition

 1. Dive Action from Cape town have confirmed that Nauticam is the main sponsor of the Sodwana Bay Shootout Photographic Competition for 2018 (do you really need any more reasons than this? enter NOW !)

If you have ever seen a Nauticam housing you will already be drooling as you read this. If you haven’t, take it from me- you want to enter, just to try and get your hands on one of these beauties especially with Nauticam having unveiled the latest housing for the Nikon D850.

    2. Sodwana Bay is a World Heritage Site and is the perfect venue for underwater photography and video

There are 1403 fish species and over 100 coral species recorded in the bay. Just for comparison, there are 1083 species recorded in the Red Sea of Egypt. The area is full of wild treasures from the Lebombo mountains down the the sea.Take a look at the pictures I have posted on this blog for proof of this indisputable fact.

 3. Sodwana Bay is a great venue for the whole family

Says iSimangaliso’s Marketing and Branding Manager, Lindy Duffield, “The shootout is not only for photographers; there is a variety of events for the whole family, including programs to entertain the kids whilst Mom and Dad focus on their photography and diving.” The committee have hinted that they will be introducing a land-based fun section, including video and photos for entrants under the age of 15 years but details are still to come.

 4. There are amazing prizes and generally a relatively small number of entrants

To add to the Nauticam underwater camera equipment from Dive Action in Cape Town there will be dive and accommodation packages, dive equipment, accommodation packages, a magazine portfolio spread and apparel. The collective value of the prizes is in the region of about R250 000.

 5. A portion of your entry fee goes back into conservation and the community

20-30% of the competition entrance fee to the Sodwana Bay Photographic Competition is for iSimangaliso’s Rare and Endangered Species Fund. This is a fund for the introduction, protection and monitoring of these animals in the Park. According to iSimangaliso’s Business Director, Terri Castis, you will be providing benefits beyond the obvious. Terri told me that “ a portion of the Park entrance fees goes towards bursaries for local young people, mentorship and training support for the 178 small businesses in the area participating in our enterprise program, and many other initiatives that aim to improve the lives of people living around the Park. We encourage photographers of every skill level to enter the competition, explore and experience this World Heritage Site and in doing so, contribute to its protection for generations to come”

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

NAUTICAM NA-D800

Love the main sponsor!

6. There will be talks and workshops hosted by well known photographers and other experts in their fields

The program in the Sodwana Bay Photographic Competition in 2018 includes marine educational walks and talks by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Sharklife, as well as sand sculpting competitions. The evenings include presentations by experts on photography, marine conservation and the astonishing world beneath the waves.

  7. It’s the longest running underwater photo competition in Southern Africa

The Sodwana Bay Photographic event has been running for 17 years  (albeit in a slightly different format in earlier years) as it was founded in 2000 by the Gauteng Underwater Photographic Society. Throughout its many years it has become well-recognised and for those who enter and win prizes, their photography is showcased across various media.

  8. It’s no longer just a competition for underwater photographers only

The Sodwana Bay Photographic Competition 2018 has a section for terrestrial photographs and these may be taken anywhere in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park during the 5 days of the event.This may suit people in your family who don’t dive and it also widens up the possibilities for everyone to win some great prizes.

  9. You’ll get loads of wonderful photos to show off on your social media platforms

Who doesn’t love showing-off a little on facebook or instagram. It‘s the age of the hedonist after all ! Show your friends what fun you’re having in the paradisiacal surroundings of Sodwana Bay. You did promise yourself less time behind the computer didn’t you?

10. And last (but not least) – It’s way better than spending 5 days in Johannesburg or Durban. Get out of the city !

Find more information here- as it is released iSimangaliso Shootout Festival Page link

I have added one more as a bonus:

11. Submerge Magazine have taken over the marketing and organisation of the competition and if I know that team- they will be doing a superb job!

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Fiona Profile

Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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Join Fiona and her team underwater in Mozambique for one or both of these short courses to learn as much as you can about photography in water.

Also find more information here.

Spend time with the team – going over those “hard to understand manuals”. Find out how to care for camera gear properly, to keep it working hard for you, for many years. You don’t have to bring gear to this course. You will be trained on our professional level equipment – this can be really handy if you are trying to make a decision on what camera to buy. Full equipment rental is incl. in the course price. Also, it’s time to enjoy a have a wonderful break -in paradise- at Guinjata Bay, diving with the Guinjata Dive Centre team. Note that if you do both courses you receive a R2000 discount.

Short Courses dates:

Course 1: Arrive on  5 Sept 2016. The beginners course 1 runs 6 Sept to 10 Sept 2016. Leave on 11 Sept (or stay and dive some more if you wish but course 1 will end on the 10th) .

Course 2 : Arrive on 10th Sept 2016. The intermediate/adv course 2 runs from 11 Sept to 15 Sept 2016. Leave on 16 Sept (or stay and dive some more if you wish but course 1 will end on the 15th)

Course 1 covers

A. choosing a camera and preparing the camera to take photographs: practical We do some work on land first and then underwater.

B:memory cards/software: includes lectures on using Adobe Lightroom software and everything you need to know to get to an intermediate level

C:using your gear (incl. strobes) to its full potential: also covers how to get the perfect exposure underwater (in detail)

D:colour loss underwater and its effect on photos; white balance and use of filters with and without strobes;

E:how to get sharp focus in water

E:marketing yourself and entering competitions

F:good composition including lens selection for different subjects

G:camera; strobe and housing Care

H:crit sessions and how to improve

Tuition costs: Includes: full DSLR camera hire with strobes ; tuition with Fiona and her team:

5 x dive package with air:

6 x nights accommodation in private en suite room. (Extra nights can be arranged should you wish to stay)

TOTAL : R8 000 Excludes: food; SCUBA equipment; airport transfers, VISA’s

Course 2 covers

A. advanced composition.

B: artistic skills such as panning and slow shutter speeds

C:using additional gear such as ‘snoots’  to take your photo up to a different level.

D:shooting fast moving subjects

E:freediving

E: special lighting techniques

F: advanced lightroom use

G:basics of adobe photoshop

G: selling your photos

H:crit sessions and constructive feedback

Tuition costs: Includes: full DSLR camera hire with strobes ; tuition with Fiona and her team:

5 x dive package with air:

6 x nights accommodation in private en suite room. (Extra nights can be arranged should you wish to stay)

TOTAL : R8 000 Excludes: food; SCUBA equipment; airport transfers, VISA’s

book for both

TOTAL for both short courses if you book them together is R14000 i.e receive a R2000 discount.

join Fiona and her team in Mozambique this September and learn something you can enjoy for the rest of your life
join Fiona and her team in Mozambique this September and learn something you can enjoy for the rest of your life

Underwater photography is on the rise as a hobby. The pros wont tell you and the books rarely mention this but there’s a few basic (but good) tips to consider when trying to take your base of knowledge of underwater photography to new heights. Before we look at the how to make good solid underwater photography great –there are some other things to consider. Here’s 5 essential basics that you may not have been told about. But shhhh, it’s a secret!

1.The photo must be in focus

At least try to get the main subject in focus. In macro photos this may only be one part of it and (unless you are going for an abstract image) then at least get the eye in focus. When editing photos always zoom in to a small portion of the subject to ensure everything is sharp and in focus. It’s even better if you can learn to’ zoom in’ on camera whilst shooting to ensure your LCD isn’t fooling you. It’s essential to do this underwater as often the LCD is hard to see through your housing. Spend a lot of time and effort learning how your camera’s auto-focus works choose the appropriate settings for your subject matter. Here’s one of my favourite photos  that ticks all the boxes except ( when you zoom in )  it is not in focus and thus, unusable.

 

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

2.There should be a clear subject in underwater photography

As with all forms of art, think about what you are photographing and the purpose of the photo. Also, try to learn as much as you can about the behaviour of the subject you want to shoot. Not only will this help you to find and approach it successfully but it may also help you to shed some light on the subject that makes more sense to the viewer. You can take this a step further when you get the hang of it.  You can try to depict the behaviour of a subject you have learned about in the ‘art’ of your image to elicit a “gut response”-  as that’s what you want to get out of your audience. If you look at the photo of the schooling coachmen you will see that it ticks all the boxes except point 1.

3.Composition should be considered

 Learn about the basic rules of composition and apply them. Certain simple rules like that of thirds will make a dramatic and immediate improvement if applied.

4.There should be well-balanced colour

In the art of underwater photography an under-utilised idea relates to complimentary colour play-offs. Learn and apply-  that blues work well with yellows and greens with purples and so on.

 5.Try to reduce the distance from port to subject as much as you can

Don’t zoom in. Improve your buoyancy and then approach with caution , so as not to harm the reef or the subject. Get in as close as you feasibly can unless you are trying to capture negative space.

Once you have those basics down to a T, its time to think about the greatness of your shot.

Here’s four things to consider

1. What makes the photo special?

Most times you may not have anything unusual or amazing happen and so how do you ensure you get a special shot? I recommend you look for dramatic angles and textures- both of which abound under the water.

2. Peak of the action

Humans are creatures of habit and the same can be said for many animals under the water. If you can learn to anticipate what your subject is likely to do next then you can set up a winning shot. Try to think ahead and be aware at all times of what is going on around you and what could happen next.

3. Emotion and mood

If you know more about the subject then you can often convey a certain feel that goes deeper than just a photo. If you can convey a mood or get an emotional response out of viewers with your photo then you are getting there.

4. Keep your composition simple.

That is the best tip of all. Even if you remember nothing else- try that.

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Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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Underwater Photography A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

Learn vital skills for shooting under the waves. A hand-selected team personally trained by renowned uw photographer Fiona Ayerst will guide you through these essentials. Come to tropical Mozambique or adventurous Durban.

Acquire the knowledge and practical skills required to master the art of underwater photography and videography while exploring the incredible diversity of the stunning coral reefs of the warm Indian Ocean. The course uses  dSLR cameras in Sea&Sea housings; DSLR and panasonic video and GoPros together with exceptional LED lighting and accessories.

Developed by internationally acclaimed underwater photographer, journalist and conservationist Fiona Ayerst, this course will empower students to see and explore the underwater realm in a totally new and intimate manner. We focus on becoming part of the marine world; using specialised breathing techniques and capitalising on the natural curiosity of the marine inhabitants. Fiona’s team will teach you how to capture the perfectly exposed and composed images and film. Creativity and new techniques are key.

Includes / Excludes

INCLUDES: 20 SCUBA dive package, underwater cameras, online and in person tuition, dorm accommodation, meals, local transport, internet

EXCLUDES: flights, travel insurance

OPTIONAL ADDONS:  Single room accommodation

Quick Info

Student portfolios

View all the videos, photographs, and stories of our alumni on the underwater photography program – VIEW PORTFOLIOS HERE

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 April (S.Africa)
  • 1-  28 May (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 June (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 July (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 August (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 September (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 October (Moz.)
  • 1 – 28 November (Moz.)
Syllabus

The program is structured around a 20 dive SCUBA package. the full syllabus can be viewed here – VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS

FAQ's

I have answered all the most common questions that student interns have here on the programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our past interns and students have taken the time to write about their personal experience with Africa Media. Here are some of those: VIEW TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Master the art of underwater photography in tropical Mozambique and stunning Aliwal Shoal. 

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