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Dive Photo Guide


Top 10 Things Not to Do in 2020
By DPG Staff, January 7, 2020 @ 07:00 AM (EST)

Break out of your comfort zone and get creative by not doing these 10 things!

In honor of the new year, it is tradition to make resolutions about all the amazing things you are going to accomplish in the coming year. Lose 20 pounds, eat better, travel more, whatever—we all know that you’ll forget all about these by the time the temperatures start to come back up. So, this year we at DPG are going to try a little reverse psychology on you. We’re giving you a list of things not to do. These are anti-resolutions—and hopefully, you’ll be able to stick to them. Here then is our list of things you need to avoid doing in the coming year.

Happy shooting in 2020!


10. DO NOT Lay on the Bottom While Shooting

This is so obvious and almost every shooter talks about not doing it. The question is, though, what do you do when nobody is looking? Most shooters are good about this, especially over coral reefs. New divers and beginner photographers still often have a problem. Even veteran shooters will casually plop down on a sandy bottom, which is usually fine. But please double-check before you do it. For all you new shooters out there who unwrapped a nice new camera last month, do not lay on the bottom. As for experienced photographers, always remember to act like somebody is watching.

Even sandy bottoms should be respected: Double-check before you kneel


9. DO NOT Return to Your Usual Dive Destinations

If you have somewhere you like to take a trip every year, don’t do it this year! Go somewhere new instead. Too many of us get in a rut and keep returning to places that are familiar and comfortable time after time. Use this new year to not go back there again in 2020. We live in a golden age of dive travel (for better or worse) and you owe it to yourself to get out there and explore. The furthest and most remote destinations have never been more accessible and easy to reach. If you’ve spent your entire life diving in the Caribbean, then see what the Western Pacific has to offer. Been diving the Coral Triangle every year? How about some freshwater dives on the incredible wrecks in the Great Lakes? Challenge yourself to not go with the old and familiar.

Love wreck diving? Try a macro trip and muck dive in Lembeh


8. DO NOT Shoot the Lens You Have on Right Now on Every Dive

What lens do you have on your camera right now, or on your last dive? Whatever the answer is, resolve not to shoot it on your next dive or trip. Well, at least not on every dive. If you are a macro junkie and are getting ready to pack up for a trip to Lembeh, make sure to bring a wide-angle lens and port. Even if you are going to be muck diving a lot, there will still be plenty of opportunities to shoot some amazing close-focus wide angle. We all get so wrapped up in shooting a certain type of shot, and we became damn good at it. The thing is repetition breeds complacency, and complacency is the enemy of creativity. Resolve to not shoot within your comfort zone. Even if you must buy a little more gear to do it, getting away from the norm will improve all your shots and take your images to the next level.

Are you only shooting wide angle? Try swapping lenses for a dive and see what happens


7. DO NOT Ask What Kind of Camera Other People Are Shooting

The most asked question between underwater photographers seems to be, “What are you shooting with?” It could be a good question for a beginner trying to figure things out, but for all you experienced photographers, please stop asking this all the time. Honestly, who cares? Are the images good and did you have fun shooting them? That’s all that matters. All too often, asking what kind of camera you are shooting is just code for getting into a mine-is-bigger-than-yours pissing contest. So next time you meet another photographer, don’t ask what they are shooting. Get to know them first, and someday in the future, there will be a time and place for that question.

This was shot using a Olympus TG-4. Does it matter?


6. DO NOT Ask What Settings Were Used on a Shot

There is a time and place for asking how a shot was taken, but challenge yourself to try and figure it out yourself. When people see a great image, the first question is, “What camera were you using?” You know how we feel about that. The second question is always, “What settings did you use?” Once again, ask yourself why you want to know. There are so many variables that go into a shot, simply asking what the settings were tells an incomplete story at best. The next time you see a great shot, challenge yourself not to ask what the settings were. Try and figure it out on your own! You may come up with an entirely new way to get the same image, or you might discover something that creates a new trend. This question often comes across as a way of asking if you know what the “M” setting is for. There are some incredible shots from little point-and-shoot cameras with the “A” setting on. So, let’s move on from the settings question.

Try and guess how the image was shot—it will likely lead to some creative results


5. DO NOT Keep Shooting the Same Medium

The cameras we take with us in the water are amazing pieces of technology, yet we rarely use even a fraction of what they are capable of. If you like to shoot stills, try using that amazing little red button or switch to video mode. On the other hand, if you shoot a GoPro, try doing something different. Use the still mode, hyperlapse, or burst modes. The point here is to get outside your comfort zone. Don’t keep shooting only stills or video. Switch to the other one for a dive or two and you’ll begin to see your subjects in a very different light. Getting out of your regular medium will also make you push your skills and knowledge base regarding post-production.

We should have put a video here to make our point! You get the idea


4. DO NOT Leave Your Strobes in One Position

Setting your strobes in position at the beginning of a dive is something we all do, but do you move them again? Many underwater photographers will lock their strobes in position and never move them from the 10 and 2 positions. Don’t do it! They make the arms and clamps easy to manipulate for a reason, and it is a crime not to use that ability. Think of the old 10 and 2 as a starting position (like f/6, 1/125s for exposure) and then tweak their orientation for each scene you shoot. On your next dive, loosen those clamps and move those arms; your resolution is to not leave your strobes untouched for an entire dive.

If you get out of the water and your strobes aren’t all askew, you did something wrong


3. DO NOT Always Shoot Landscape Orientation

We get asked by many aspiring photographers, both land and underwater (you should be doing both!), how they can get their pictures to stand out from the crowd. The answer is always the same: Turn your camera 90 degrees. The overwhelming number of shots we see on a daily basis are shot landscape orientation; off the top of my head, I would guess that number is 95% for underwater shots. Want to get your pictures noticed? Well, don’t keep shooting the same old way. This is the easiest thing you can do to shake things up. Do the judges a favor in your next competition and submit something portrait style—we guarantee it will make them pause for a moment.

Easiest way to get your picture noticed: Just turn the camera


2. DO NOT Be Obsessed with Post-Processing

The feelings around post-processing verge on religious fanaticism. Photographers either embrace it, violently oppose it, or lie about it. Some incredible images get posted in online photography groups and it is amazing how many devolve into name-calling and accusations in the comments section, all because of post. This is ridiculous, especially as new technology blurs the lines between what is post and what is in-camera. The new cameras coming out are basically Photoshop in a box, and the new powers of post-production software make the impossible possible with only a click. If you love post, try some dives relying on good old-fashioned in-camera techniques, and if you hate post, download Lightroom and embrace the dark side. In the end, we won’t be able to tell the difference, so don’t be so obsessed with whether a photo has post or not.

I'm pretty sure you couldn't see stars on this dive, but it’s still really cool!


1. DO NOT Manipulate Marine Life

This one is such a no-brainer we shouldn’t even have to type this. Act like somebody is watching, tell your guide what your expectations are, and don’t do it. With so many divers and photographers in the water, even small acts of creature manipulation add up fast. Avoid the temptation to move that shrimp to a perfect spot or bring an octopus up off the bottom so you can shoot it floating in the blue. Just don’t do it.

Just leave the little guy in the bottle. No need to make him swim


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