UW Digi Photo Part Deux!

After completing the online portion of our Digital Underwater Photography course, we met with Jim from Maui Dreams to take our cameras diving and to complete the course. Jim gave us some pointers at the shop, went over both my camera and my husband’s rental camera to ensure we were familiar with settings. Once at the dive site we had a few assignments such as manually setting white balance, shooting in macro mode and shooting both horizontal and vertical shots.

Now armed with these instructions and advice, we entered the water at Ulua Beach. The first test of our new skills was a nice big frog fish (you can see one of my photos of “him” in my previous post). Thank goodness for this type of fish, it is a good subject as it just sits there and looks interesting. Throughout the dive Jim would point out things of interest, a few times writing on his slate for us to try a different setting or to take a picture of something of interest (in addition to the first frog fish, we did ‘stumble’ upon a jet black frog fish). As you can see from the photos, we were also lucky enough to see a green lionfish.

Shooting in RAW mode uses much more space on your memory card, than JPEG. It also takes longer to view the photo before moving on to the next. At this point I was not necessarily convinced RAW mode was the way to go especially when my memory card filled up before the end of the first dive. Feeling smug, (kinda hard to feel that underwater), I pressed the button on my camera to switch to my second memory card. I was feeling clever and thinking “I’ve got this”…… After the first dive we discussed some additional pointers, and Jim mentioned it was good both my husband and I had good buoyancy skills which is a definite plus in taking pictures AND not damaging the reef.

We went back in for our second dive and it was during this second dive that I realized my cleverness of the additional memory card, was, well not so clever!!! I had forgotten that one of the basic rules from the online course wasto prepare for your underwater photo dive; I forgot to delete pictures from a previous dive done 3 years earlier…..Oooops!!! So while diving I was furiously deleting old pix to make room for new pix because we were coming back to that black frog fish and I needed another picture!!

After both dives we went back to the shop to download our pictures. Jim was very encouraging and provided constructive comments on how a picture could have been taken differently for different results. For example I thought I had to use my strobe/flash on ALL photos. In viewing some of my reef shots, the flash just highlighted the backscatter. I now know that I don’t need my flash for all shots, in particular distance shots, but to save it for those close ups to highlight the colors. All of this feedback/instruction was extremely beneficial as Jim was able to take photos I would have deleted and use Photoshop to change the color, contrast, sharpen and to remove particles in the image. Now remember I said I wasn’t convinced about shooting in RAW mode??? Well it was AMAZING what a difference shooting in RAW mode made. Because I shot in RAW mode I was able to have much more creative control when using Photoshop to enhance the image and bring out the true colors. Check out the before and after results on this coral shot:


This was an amazing experience and I am amazed at of the information we learned. Two of the biggest things I learned from Jim were that underexposed is not a bad thing and easier to fix than overexposed AND how to use Photoshop to obtain the desired results. I have been playing with Photoshop every night since and I am addicted.

On a side note, we were so excited with our new-found knowledge and new dive buddy friend, that we booked a scooter dive the following day with Jim at Maui Dreams and I have to say that dive was in our top 10 favorites. Now all we need to do is continue to practice, practice, practice, which shouldn’t be a problem for people like us who LOVE diving.

Today we went diving out at Honalua Bay and to our great surprise we encountered a bunch of dolphins. We had encountered dolphins a few years back and you could hardly see them in my pictures. Using the new techniques we just learned from the online course and Jim, I was able to get some fantastic shots =))).