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A resume of Linda Pitkin's Basic Techniques talk to BSoUP in March 2008.

Top Tips

A resumé of Linda Pitkin's Basic Techniques talk to BSoUP in March 2008.

BSoUP's monthly Basic Techniques talks are aimed at those starting out in underwater photgraphy, although even the more experienced among us could learn from Linda's talk.

To see more of Linda's images visit


Neutral buoyancy helps you to manoeuvre close without bumping into anything. You can hover and hold your position without having to fin. If you are hovering near the seabed, and are negatively buoyant, you are likely to fin and stir up sand. [Also, to reduce backscatter, make sure strobes are aimed to hit the subject and not fall short of it, which would light particles between the lens and the subject.]

Image: Diver and coral, Red Sea

Diver and coral, Red Sea
Sea Fan on Red Sea reef

With neutral buoyancy you can move in smoothly so as not to frighten the fish. It helps in reversing out of tight spots too.

Image: Sea Fan on Red Sea reef

In open water with eye to viewfinder, it is easy to lose track of your depth - neutral buoyancy helps to keep your level constant.

Image: Blackfin Barracudas

Blackfin Barracudas
Wave breaking on Red Sea reef

Take care in surf and surge. Waves can pull you onto the reef. Neutral buoyancy helps you to keep control of your position, but you need to stay alert and ready to swim out of danger. Here you want to stay off the reef but there are occasions when negative buoyancy helps " when you're trying to keep stable on the sea bed, especially in a swell or current, but remember to put some air back in your BC before you lift off.

Image: Wave breaking on Red Sea reef


Get close for the impact of a frame-filling subject, and less water between lens and subject gives vivid colour and definition. If you get close you can eliminate an unappealing background, or throw it into soft focus [with 50 mm macro or longer lens].

Image: Coral Grouper

Coral Grouper
Dusky Grouper

Close-focus wide-angle keeps the emphasis on the main subject.

Image: Dusky Grouper

If you cannot get close to shy fish, there are approachable ones around. A good shot of something commonplace is worth a thousand times more than a poor shot of something rare. Just make sure you take the time to capture a good composition. You can make lots of different images out of common easy¬Ě subjects.

Image: Clown Anemonefish

Clown Anemonefish
Text and images copyright © Linda Pitkin  

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