5 Ocean Photography Hacks


There is a growing, global tribe that carry salt water in their veins. These people do not simply love the ocean, they live and breathe it - its their lifestyle.  I believe its for this same reason that more and more people are beginning to pursue the art of ocean photography. It allows us to not only encounter that beauty, freedom and emotion experienced in the ocean at that time, but to look back and re-live it, as well as share it later with others to enjoy. Ocean photography is an art form that I am still learning and growing into everyday, but I thought for this BLOG it could be fun to share 5 Ocean Photography Hacks that I have learnt so far. So here they are...



The first hack is also the weirdest. If you are shooting with a dome port like I am, you need to spit on your housing port. So graceful! But it serves a crucial purpose, in preventing water droplets from forming on your port. If you put saliva on your port at the beginning of the session and keep your housing under water in between all shots, then continue to put saliva on your port as much as possible between shots, you will get minimal interference from water droplets... simple. 


Under/over shots are a favourite type of capture for a lot of ocean photography enthusiasts. Ideally, you want to have a large dome port in your kit that allows you to take these clean 50/50 shots. However, not everyone can afford to have these in their kits, including myself. So I have figured out  how to do these shots the best I can without one.

Firstly, I make sure my camera is on multiple frame mode and start by focusing on a point with my camera above the water and then I slowly submerse my camera whilst holding down the shutter trigger getting multiple shots on the way down until my housing is under water. This way I can look back over the multiple shots later and pick the perfect frame where the water is half way over the dome. 


I learnt this one by something Sean Scott wrote a while ago... For the best barrel shots it can be really effective to body surf in the barrel while taking your shots. Its most common to get barrel shots by standing or swimming and allowing the wave to break over you with your camera held out in the barrel. But I have definitely found Sean's words to be true that I get a way better barrel image if I'm actually in the wave body surfing while I shoot. Its a really tricky art that I'm still learning, but I have found it helpful.


Tape down your lens if you are shooting in manual focus mode. I generally find it most effective to shoot in auto-focus while shooting surfers or models in the water. However, if I am shooting a hollow wave and know that I want my focal point to be the same each time, I will shoot manual mode. This allows me to get thrown around in the waves a bit more without worrying about unfocussed, blurry shots later.

If I do it this way I'll pre-set my focus manually on land by setting it to about 3ft away. I'll take a test shot and zoom in and make sure everything is sharp and then tape my lens in this spot so that it doesn't move at all while I'm out in the waves. A handy tip for using this method is to shoot with a smaller aperture, f.8-10 for example. This way your depth of field to work with is wider. 


Don't be scared of collision. A lot of people ask me how I shoot wide angle shots of surfers without worrying about being run over or hurt by the surf board. I'm not saying its a good idea go and annoy surfers or get in their way...However, it is good to realise that unless you're in 1ft of water, you can generally swim under a surfers without being at risk of being hit. I will often take a shot then swim down along the sand under the board as it surfs along the wave above me and pop back up on the other side without any worry. 

Thanks for reading, I hope that some of these hacks are helpful!


Below are a collection of some of my ocean photography. 

Amy MarkhamComment