HOW TO TAKE OVER UNDER PHOTOS
Underwater photography is exciting because it is so different. We are given a peek into the water world that we do not usually see. It’s different, mysterious, exciting. But now there is an even more exciting way to take water photos. The world above and the world under the water can be combined into one single photo. These photos are called over under photos, half half photos, 50/50 photos or split photos and the most usual comment when people see these photos is: “How did you take a photo like that?”
So how do you take over under photos?
The theory is simple, you just need to put the water level over the middle of your waterproof camera lens. Which is much easier said than done. Even when the water is completely still hitting the middle of the usually small camera lens in next to impossible. And then there are times when the water is not still, which is like most of the time. So 99% of those sick split images are taken using a special housing that is called a dome port. A dome port is a housing with a huge dome shaped lens which pushes the water away from the camera and makes taking over under photos possible.
There are three main advantages of using a dome port
1. They make half half photos possible. The huge (usually 6″) dome makes it simple to position the water level over the middle of the lens. It also makes the water level a thin line instead of a thick blurry smudge over the photo.
2. Domes almost eliminate underwater magnification making objects that extend from above the water under it look natural and not all broken up and swollen. By eliminating magnification you will also get a wider field of view.
3. Domes also make images sharper and clearer with better colors.
Now up until now dome ports were only available for DSLR cameras, for pro photographers and you had to pay big bucks to get one. Taking photos with a DSLR camera and a dome is also all but simple. Focal length, amount of light and other variables require an expert photographer to make a good over under shot. But this is no longer the case. Combine your GoPro camera with an affordable Split Dome port and anyone can start taking half half photos. GoPro with it’s wide angle lens and almost infinite depth of field is a perfect match for dome photography. Here you can see a GoPro comparison between shots taken with Split dome port and photo taken with a regular GoPro housing.
Even if making over under photos with Split dome and GoPro it’s only point and shoot.
Tips on how to improve your shots:
- Choose clear water! Only really really (really!) clear and transparent water with bright sea bottom makes those sickest split photos. Anything else can be fun, but average. You can use muddy water for some interesting effects, but basically if you want sick photos find the clearest water possible. Mountain rivers, tropical seas, swimming pools are usual places where the water is really clear and transparent.
- Lots of light! Water absorbs light faster than air so light will be lost underwater. You need lots of light to begin with. Choose a bright, sunny day.
- But don’t point the dome into the sun. Domes have a nasty habit of turning into a mirror and instead of a sick photo you will see your dome reflection in the photo. Then there is another reason not to point the dome into the sun.
- Keep the sun behind your back – this will greatly improve the color in the photos, shooting into the sun gives you washed out colors.
- Choose your scenes – the best over under photos have something interesting in both halves of the image. So you need something interesting underwater and something above it.
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