When I started my underwater photography career I always wished there was someone there to teach me through all this long learning process. I managed to teach myself everything I know and because of that I know how hard it can be to start using a camera when you don’t know anything at all. I want to share with all of you some of my dumbest mistakes which I hope they help someone else not to ever make them.
When I bought my first set of equipment I didn’t know anything so by the first week I had already drowned my Sea&Sea strobe because I left a strand of hair between the o-ring and the flash which, as I didn’t know at the time, is enough to let water in. The worst part was that the strobe was most likely ok until I saw that hair during the dive and I thought it was a good idea to pull it out (not a good idea) and this was what broke the seal and made a lot of saltwater get in and drown the strobe.
To avoid this always check the O-rings that they don’t have anything on them from a strand of hair to even a small grain of sand.
A friend of mine was on the boat so instead of working we organized to do a fun dive where we would forget about everything and just take pictures. Once we were at about 60 feet I found an amazing nudibranch (very colorful sea slug, great to photograph) in the perfect spot to take photos. Once I had everything ready and I had positioned myself to take that perfect shot I looked into the viewfinder to see only but blackness so I turned the camera to face me and all I could see were those awful gold letters spelling Sony on the lens cap that I had left on the camera to ruin my whole dive.
To avoid thus I always recommend my students to take a photo when everything is ready to go. This way you can check for problems not only for the lens cap but also strobe problems, low battery etc…
My first trip with the whale sharks was a very exiting moment for me. I had been wanting to do this for a while so I had everything ready including a big memory card to take hundreds of photos. When the guide told us to jump in I grabbed my camera, swam as fast as I could and started shooting away. I got a bit frustrated when I noticed my camera was taking really long from one picture to the next but since I was so exited that I was swimming with the biggest fish in the ocean I didn’t even think why that was happening. Later that day when I got back home and started thinking about the camera and how slow it was I realized that I had been shooting with the flash on and the camera was just trying to recycle the flash before taking the next photo.
To avoid this problem you always have to think about what you are doing. There might be some times where you are witnessing something amazing and you are just shooting without thinking, what this will do is that you will not get the shots you want so even if it takes you a few precious seconds you should always know what settings your camera is on to be able to get that perfect picture you are looking for.
You must remember we are all humans and we all make mistakes so instead of getting frustrated from those mistakes what you need to do is learn from them and make sure you don’t do them again.
By Pepe Suarez