TIP #4: Underwater Photography - Not
by Cradyvon Pawlak

Can't swim? You don't need to be at home in the water to get great underwater photographs, in fact, you Don't even need to get wet! All it takes is the right equipment and a trip to an aquarium.

The photos shown here have sold several times as stock and were photographed through-the-glass at a public aquarium, using a Canon EOS body, 430EZ Speedlite flash unit, and an off-camera TTL shoe cord.

It isn't a difficult technique to master, but you will need the right gear to make the effort worthwhile.

My own 35mm "aquarium kit" consists of:

1. A clean, terrycloth rag to wipe smudges and debris from the exterior tank glass prior to shooting
2. Highly saturated pro slide film such as Fuji Velvia
3. Both 50mm and 100mm macro lenses
4. A powerful flash unit (GN 100 or better) and off-camera TTL shoe cord
5. An accessory soft-box for the flash such as the Sto-Fen "Omni-Bounce", a unit popular with photojournalists
6. An oversized, collapsible rubber lens hood

The "trick", if there is one, is to maintain a seal between the glass and the lens hood, while also positioning your handheld flash unit against the glass. Any light leakage around the lens hood will ruin your images with stray flash. There is no need for a tripod as this is flash photography.

If you do try this at a public aquarium, go early! Minimize your impact on other patrons by going on a weekday and arriving when they first open. Some aquariums may also require you to pay a small photographer's fee if they suspect you are professional.

While this method is certainly no substitute for the real thing, it is a rewarding and (comparatively) less expensive way to get your feet wet in shooting "underwater."

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