Posts By Brad Moore

Newborn Photography Master Class with Tracy Sweeney
Join Tracy Sweeney for a masterclass in newborn photography! Filmed on location in Tracy’s studio, you’ll learn the essentials for getting started photographing newborns. Safety and comfort is job one in newborn photography, and Tracy starts off sharing her methods for keeping babies safe, warm, and soothed. From there, Tracy takes you through her choice of gear and lighting, and then gives you a front row seat for a series of newborn sessions. You’ll learn how to wrap the baby, how to pose the baby on a variety of props, and how to maximize the time spent on set to give you a variety of looks in a short amount of time. Family photos are part of the package, and Tracy shares her process for working with the family in a variety of configurations. After the shooting is done, you’ll learn Tracy’s workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop for creating the final polished images that go on to become timeless heirlooms for the family.

In Case You Missed It
Learn how to cultivate beautiful memories for your client families! Join Tracy Sweeney as she shares her years of experience as a family photographer to help you prepare for success in this business. Tracy starts off the class with a focus on planning, preparation, and scouting; all of which will help you get the most out of your session while feeling confident and looking professional. From there you’ll witness Tracy at work with two different families in a park and on the beach. Tracy talks through her approach to lighting, to working with the families, the importance of building a relationship with the family members, and how she poses them as a group and one-on-one. After the shooting is done, you’ll head to the studio where Tracy teaches you her post processing workflow from Lightroom through Photoshop to create the final images that go on to become family treasures for years to come.

Five Lessons Learned from Hosting the Behind The Shot Podcast

First things first, thanks to Scott and Brad for having me as a guest here, a blog I have read so many times over the years. My name is Steve Brazill. I’m a Southern California based music photographer, and the host of a podcast called Behind the Shot (BtS). Hosting the podcast has taught me more about being a photographer than any of the research I have done, not necessarily the technical aspects, but the heart of photography. Let me explain…

Don’t just take a shot, make one. Everyone else was shooting from the right, but I wanted to get the festival logo, and position the jump between the lights. One OK Rock at Self Help Festival.

I have always been fascinated by the path people take in the pursuit of learning photography. When we first start taking photos we seem to just be happy if we capture something… anything. Then, as we develop our technical skills, learn about composition and exposure, and refine our photographic eye, we actually start to critique our own shots in the hopes of improving further.

The problem is that the better we get, the more issues we find in our own images. Sometimes I look back at my early work and cringe, but at the time I loved those shots. Now that I have been doing it awhile, there are days I come from back from a shoot feeling like I don’t like anything I shot, like I have lost my touch. Why?

Because I have a broader knowledge base to critique from, and a better eye to judge from. While that can be frustrating sometimes, it’s what makes photography amazing! You will never fully learn photography. Yeah, you may get better at the technical aspects, but there is always something you can refine.

Be prepared! I always have a 15mm on my second body for times like these. Barb Wire Dolls at Vans Warped Tour 2017.

When I started learning photography, I found information everywhere I could. I used KelbyOne, browsed YouTube, bought some great DVDs, and became a huge podcast fan. I was already listening to a few tech based podcasts, and once I turned my attention to photography I found Scott’s shows, like The Grid, as well as podcasts by people like Rick Sammon, Scott Bourne, and Frederick Van Johnson.

I learned so much from those shows, but I also found a hole in my studies – the images. I would listen to these great interviews, with some of the best photographers and educators in the business, but never saw their work.  That’s like watching a cooking show and wondering if the food really tastes as good as the people on the show say it does (if the chef is Bobby Flay, yes, it does).

Another example of “making a shot.” When Heart played with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience I knew I needed to document that story. I positioned myself to fit Nancy Wilson and Jason in the frame.

Don’t misunderstand me. There is a place for the type of interview where you learn about some talented person, but I found myself wondering if I was listening to talented photographers or just friends of the host. The reason a photographer is interesting to us should be because of their work.

That got me thinking…. every time I see an image, I have questions about how it was made. And that’s when it hit me. What if we flipped the interview around. What if we interviewed a photograph to get a better understanding of the photographer’s mind. Why did they make the choices they made, did they pre-visualize, how did they create and edit the shot, and what issues did they overcome? So often I see a shot where I feel I could learn a lot if only I could ask the photographer a few key questions. And so I started Behind the Shot. Now I get to ask the questions I want, and get to learn more about the art of photography.

Experiment when you can. I had no idea if it would work, but with no front light I thought a silhouette, with the name KORN on the fan, would be cool.

Has it worked? Oh yeah. I thought I would share some of the things I have found as common threads throughout the shows. Most are just simple things, things we may all know about but forget under the pressure of a shoot.

Don’t Just Take A Photo, Make A Photo
This is one concept that shows up over and over when I talk to great photographers. I have heard Rick Sammon say something like this so many times over the years, and in the episode below he uses that approach perfectly to capture his image “Sunrise at the Blue Swallow.”

Travel photographer Peter Levshin used this idea to great effect when photographing a young monk in Burma. I’ve never done this trip, but I have always heard how dark some of the temples are. Peter, rather than do what most people would and just take the shot, asked if they could bring in more candles. So simple, and the final shot turned out fantastic.

Know Your Gear
The second episode of BtS I recorded was with London based music photographer Christie Goodwin. Christie is one of the best there is, and the shot we discussed was an iconic image of singer Katy Perry called “Fireworks.” This image is amazing, but once you hear how little time she had to capture it, and the fact she had no idea what the fireworks would do to the exposure, the shot seems almost impossible. Knowing her gear made a difference because she was able to adapt quickly enough to capture the shot.

Be Prepared
I mean really, this almost goes without saying, but sometimes it’s the little things. Wedding Photographer Troy Miller was shooting a wedding on a rainy day in Southern California. It happens, but he was ready. He knew he needed to get some images of the bride and groom outside, so he used an app that gives up to the minute rain status. When the app told him there was about to be a break in the rain he got the couple ready, and then just as predicted the rain stopped. The result was a beautiful photo, with amazing colors and sky, he calls “Stormy Kiss”.

The lighting for Judas Priest was very dynamic. Knowing your gear makes adjusting to changing conditions much easier.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Creative
Sometimes we forget that photography is a visual art. We could capture the most technically perfect and well composed image, and it might speak to no one. A great image has impact, a story, and feeling. When doing a shoot with rocker Tommy Lee, of Motley Crüe fame, photographer Dustin Jack did everything right. He made sure he got the safe shots he needed first, but then he asked Tommy to put on some glasses. Seems simple, right?

Those glasses unlocked Tommy’s personality, and the results were great on their own. But the experimenting didn’t stop there. Dustin had an idea to combine three of the shots to tell a totally different story, resulting in his image “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Peace.” Sometimes, it just takes being willing to experiment.

Stay Relaxed
This one sounds so easy. You most likely already know photographer Alan Hess through KelbyOne, this blog, or through Photoshop World. The first time I shot a music festival with Alan Hess was a huge learning experience for me. I walked up to him to introduce myself, but honestly was a bit star struck. Alan is one of the best music photographers out there – he literally wrote the definitive book on it. He was so amazingly nice to someone that was a fan of his work.

The rest of the day, while photographing the bands, I watched Alan and tried to learn whatever I could. The one thing I noticed more than anything was how calm and composed he was. Everyone else – myself included – was scrambling to get tons of photos during the limit of the first three songs. Not Alan. His shooting was relaxed and calculated.

When I had him on the podcast we dissected one of his Pro Bull Riding shots, and the same thing came through. The fact that he was able to stay relaxed, calm, and composed during 8 second rides was a key to his success. He was able to adjust his technique, position and gear on the fly to make the images he wanted through careful thought. Yes, there is that idea of making, not just taking, an image again. Amazing how often that comes up.

I know I said five lessons, but here is a bonus…

“Be Aware, Be Astonished, Share Your Astonishment”
OK, so this is one I almost didn’t include because the episode won’t air until about 3 weeks after this post goes up – it should go live on 9/21/17. Why include a tip from an unreleased show? Because it stopped me in my tracks when my guest said it. Trey Ratcliff is such an amazing talent, but you knew that already. When I got him on the show, thanks to Rick Sammon, Trey was so generous with his thoughts on photography and technique.

Throughout the interview he would share bits of knowledge that left me speechless. He talks about his editing, and even touches a little bit on color theory, but this phrase was the one that got me. It immediately meant something to me. I’ve been in radio for almost 40 years, and there was an old story I’d heard related to doing Voice Overs. The way it’s told, a legendary Voice Over artist was asked how he finds inspiration when he has to do a commercial for some common and mundane product.

His answer was that he imagines he is hearing about the product for the first time. In that sense even shoes are amazing. These three things Trey mentions are the same concept, but for photography. A Voice Over lesson I have shared hundreds of times, and yet never thought to apply it to photography. “Be aware, be astonished, and share your astonishment.” Wow. So watch for the episode, or subscribe over at the This Week in Photo site.

The Art of Photography is alive and well, and we can learn and become better photographers with every image we see.

Again, thanks to Scott and Brad. Such an honor to share this space.

You can see more of Steve’s work at, listen to his Behind The Shot Podcast, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Using Photoshop & Lightroom to Create Amazing Cityscapes with Serge Ramelli
Join Serge Ramelli as he shares his secrets to creating amazing cityscapes. Great cityscapes start with great captures, and Serge begins the class with a discussion of camera settings and his approach to being in the right place at the right time. After the photo is taken, Serge steps through his editing workflow in Lightroom. Starting with the global edits that lay the foundation for a strong cityscape, Serge moves on into a detailed look at how to use all of Lightroom’s local adjustment tools to take your photos to the next level. Whether you are shooting with a DSLR or smart phone, and from stitched panoramas to merged HDR, Serge shares the tips and techniques that you can use in all kinds of situations.

In Case You Missed It
Consider this your very own photographer-friendly guide on where to go for the best photographs of London, England. Join Scott Kelby and Larry Becker as Scott shares his favorite locations to shoot, along with the kind of veteran traveler tips that will help you capture images that you’ll be delighted to bring back home. Timing is everything, so you’ll not only learn where to go, but what times will yield the best chances for great photographs. This is strictly a travel guide for photographers (including a downloadable PDF), so there’s no Photoshop or Lightroom involved, just the kind of information that will aid you on your photographic journey and inspire you to get out there and shoot.

Let me introduce myself. I have been the Chief Sports Photographer of The Sun Newspaper in London, England for the last 29 years. It’s my job to fill the sports pages of the UK’s best selling newspaper, with over 1.6 million papers sold daily and with over 45 million unique viewers to our digital platforms.

12 months ago I covered my sixth Olympic games, on this occasion in Brazil, where I followed some top British athletes in their quest for gold at the games, getting up close to them in training and getting great access to them before going to the games.

I also covered my 10th European soccer championships in France, my 35th Wimbledon All England Championships, my 35th English Football Season, England’s summer cricket campaign, and many professional boxing bouts working in conjunction with some top fighters.

It’s been a busy few years in the game!

I have been honoured to have won three major industry awards for my work, including The Sports Journalism award for my picture of a double handed save by England’s Joe Hart voted the best football picture of the season. I also won two awards from our National Football Association for the same picture and for a goal celebration by Daniel Sturridge against Wales. Plaudits like these make you strive harder to keep trying to get those images we all remember.

I started the campaign by photographing our Olympians.

Adam Peaty competitive swimmer and breaststroke specialist who has represented Great Britain at the FINA world championships and European championships

First was Adam Peaty, our gold medallist in the games. I wanted to photograph Adam in the pool using strobe lighting. I shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and 400mm f/2.8 lens using two Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes with a fast syncing connection and two soft boxes and two assistants hanging over the pool lighting Adam. I powered the lights with a Godox power pack and took no more than 5 attempts before I knew I had my shot.

Matthew Hudson-Smith is a British track and field sprinter who specialises in the 400 metres.

Next came Matthew Hudson-Smith, a British track and field sprinter who specializes in the 400 metres. We photographed him in the National Indoor Arena, again using two fast syncing Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes. This time I shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and a 300mm f/2.8 lens on a tripod. We used a beauty dish to the front with a grid on it, as well as a soft box in front, and a grid with a blue gel on it behind, just to change the colours.

Claudia Fragapane artistic gymnast She represented England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 2014 European Championships

My third assignment was well out of my comfort zone. I had to photograph Claudia Fragapane, who is an artistic gymnast. This was a challenge, knowing nothing about this sport. She was wonderful to photograph! She showed me the most dangerous move that she did, so all I had to do was try and light it. I used three fast syncing Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes and shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and 85mm f/1.2. We used a beauty dish to the front with a grid on it again, we also used two grids to the front and rear.

The result was nice but it needed something else. I used a Topaz star burst filter in post production and it made the image pop. She was pleased with the image and that was good enough for me.

Giles Scott Olympic Sailing

Next, it was down to the National Sailing Centre in Plymouth where I photographed gold medallist sailor Giles Scott. I did not have a clue about sailing, but he was great. He allowed me to bolt on Canon 600EX-RT flash guns and sealed them with house hold kitchen film because of the salt water. These were fired with an infrared transmitter. I shot the image with a Canon 1DX Mark II and a 24mm-70mm lens. The strobe light made the image pop beautifully.

When we finally got to Rio for the Olympics, it was full on chasing Brits winning medals. The city handled the games well, but the distances between the events put lots of stress and strain on photographers getting from A to B for events, not to mention the crime aspect. You had to be vigilant 24 hours a day to protect your equipment and your personal belongings. I luckily had nothing stolen, but knew of people having things stolen.

My favourite image from the games was of Mo Farah, who won the Men’s 5000m Final. He did his thing very easily and won the race, but the image came after the race. He had finished his lap of honour, and from behind a stand came running out and jumped in mid air with a union jack flag behind him. I was using a Canon 1DX Mark II with a 300mm lens. This image was corner to corner in the view finder. Many photographers cut fingers or cut off the top of his head, but luckily for me I got the frame.

The English Domestic football season was dominated by Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Chelsea had a new manager, Antonio Conte, who came in and won the Premier League in his first season. The night they clinched the Premiership, the players were celebrating with him. They grabbed the manager and started to throw him in the air. Luckily for me I was positioned perfectly! They threw him up and threw a banner that said “The Champions.” This was taken on a Canon 1DX Mark II with a 500mm f/4 lens.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United scores 3-2

Manchester United won the League Cup at Wembley Stadium. The game was won in the dying minutes of the final half with a winning goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I took an amazing image on a remote camera positioned behind the goal with a Canon 1DX and 24mm f/1.4 with Pocket Wizard. My paper loves these pictures because of the angle its taken from.

People who know me well know that I love to photograph boxing, the fights as well as the previews building up to the fight. One fight in particular was Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko. The fight was set to take place at Wembley Stadium in front of 90,000 people. The build up in the UK was massive. Luckily for me, I had access to Joshua before the fight. This is where all the KelbyOne videos I’ve watched paid off.

Anthony Joshua ahead of his fight with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium

I turned a nice image of Joshua into an amazing front cover of the pull out for my paper. It was taken on a Canon 5Ds with a 85mm f/1.2 and three Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes using soft boxes with grids.

The highlight of the summer sports for me is the Wimbledon All-England Tennis Championships. 14 days of sunshine, great working facilities, great pictures and a great place to have the privilege of working. You have to have your wits about you all the time.

HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

It’s not just tennis, you have to watch for celebrities arriving and enjoying the tennis, members of the Royal Family having a day out, including HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. You must not point a long lens at the Royal Box during play, which is one of the rules of Wimbledon that is observed by the press pack.

Eddide Redmayne and Bradley Cooper
Roger Federer wins his match and Grace Jones cheers

This year there were celebrities like Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper, and singer and actress Grace Jones. The women’s championship was won by Garbine Muguruza and the men’s was won again by Roger Federer.

Garbine Muguruza wins
Roger Federer wins final

I am one of the lucky ones who are allowed on the court for the trophy presentation, but there are certain rules that have to be observed. No shorts, only trousers and a shirt must be worn to take the pictures, and definitely no monopods allowed on the grass. All cameras have to be hand held.

I use two Canon 1DX Mark II bodies and one Canon 1DX at Wimbledon that are cabled to the internet for direct picture transmission to our photo editors in the media centre. I use 500mm, 300mm, and 70-200mm lenses for celebrities and tennis action pictures.

Another summer sport for us Brits is cricket. There are three forms of the game: 20/20, which is fast a furious a bit like baseball, then there is 50 over cricket and the last is a five day test match between England and South Africa which I had to cover. Basically you have to be there for a 9:30 photo briefing to pick your working position for the day. You watch every ball bowled from 11am till 1pm, then 1:40pm till 4:40pm, then from 4pm till the official close of play at 6pm. Luckily the BBC provides great radio commentary, so this helps when the play gets slow. This can go on for four days without a result, or if you get lucky you can get a result inside three or four days. Days four and five turned out to be big moments in the game.

Ben Stokes 1st ball Faf Du Plessis

Ben Stokes, English bowler, bowled Faf Du Plessis of South Africa on the fifth day England spin bowler to a hat trick and bowled out the last three South African batters for no runs, and then was mobbed by his England teammates after he secured victory in the match.

My final two pictures of the year I want to talk about are from the IAAF World Athletics Championship most recently held in the London Stadium, which was formerly The Olympic stadium for 2012 games. First night action, especially for the British fans, was Mo Farah competing in the 10,000m. The anticipation of the crowd was electric and the noise was so loud. 25 laps of the track in the last event, Mo was being pushed about. He had a spike put into his leg, elbows, the usual thing. On the last lap he went for the front and took the lead. The roar of the crowd was nothing that I have experienced since 2012. He came hammering towards us, and for me it was go small with a 300mm lens or stay strong and go with the 500mm.

Mo knew he had the victory on the line. Arms went out wide and the eyes popped! What a great picture on the first night.

My final image was on the Saturday night of Usain Bolt’s last ever race in the 100m against his rival Justin Gatlin. The British media had hyped this race up over Gatlin’s past with drugs. The race was terrible for me. Bolt was in lane four, Gatlin in lane nine. Anyway, on your marks, set, go, the only thing you can do is keep an eye on the track and the giant video screen, 60 yards out is decision time. I go on Bolt.

Justin Gatlin (usa) wins the final and acknowledges Usain Bolt

He comes across the line in third, not a frame on Gatlin. Then, by luck, Gatlin looks to the video screen and sees he has won. Bolt comes to him and holds his hands out, Gatlin then goes down and bows to the greatest sprinter in history. What a picture perfect positioning for me! An incredible two days for me to finish a calendar year in sports photography.

You can see more of Dickie’s work at, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Mastering Layers: Advanced Techniques with Dave Cross
Become more effective using layers in Photoshop! Join Dave Cross as he builds on his previous class to teach you more advanced ways to leverage the power of layers. In this class you’ll learn how to use shape-based masks, vector masks, layer comps, advanced layer blending options, powerful ways to use smart objects, and much more. Dave wraps up the class sharing some of his favorite keyboard shortcuts for working with layers that you can implement in your workflow right away.

In Case You Missed It
Join Dave Cross to learn how to become successful using Photoshop’s layers. Aimed at beginners, this class is designed to help you understand what a layer is, discover what types of layers exist and the ways they can be used, navigate the Layers panel, learn how to manage your layers, and much more. Understanding layers is the key to unlocking Photoshop’s tremendous capabilities for all manner of creative pursuits. By the end of this class you’ll have the confidence to take on more challenging projects.

In January 1927, the first ever color photograph taken underwater appeared in National Geographic. The picture introduces us to a hogfish living it up in the Florida Keys, and underwater flash photography was born. Photographer Charles Martin, with an autochrome camera, teamed up with marine biologist Dr. William Longley, and together, they headed to the Florida Keys. The biggest problem they faced was underwater illumination, and they solved it with magnesium flash powder. That’s right, explosives! And those of us who remember film days thought developer was nasty!

Credit: Charles Martin and Dr. William Longley

That little hogfish changed the course of photographic history forever. It’s been ninety years since the days of Martin and Longley’s experiments, and underwater photography has progressed by leaps and bounds. Modern camera and lighting technologies have made it possible for us to explore the beautiful underwater world and to take our love for water, photography, and creativity to new heights.

…or should I say depths.

I have always had two passions: photography and the water. I picked up my mom’s camera when I was ten years old and never put it down: I knew I wanted to make pictures. After high school, I attended the University of Florida and then moved to Daytona Beach where I worked on various projects and building my book. I got the opportunity to head to Los Angeles and work for Turbo Magazine & Import Tuner. After a few years on staff, I decided to branch out on my own again and started pursuing a career in advertising, working in all creative aspects from photography to creative direction to production. Growing up in Florida I played in the ocean, springs, and rivers. Later, I would also dive them and complete instructor level training with the 2 top SCUBA agencies in the world, PADI & NAUI, and becoming a NAUI certified SCUBA instructor. Then, eleven years ago I combined both my passions and started focusing on underwater photography and I’ve never looked back.

Let’s be honest, underwater photography looks awesome. It is eye-catching and different, and it gives us a view into a world that most of us do not get to see every day. Using a camera underwater can be difficult, with many more challenges than we face on dry land. How many have tried it with a disposable camera on vacation, a GoPro, an iPhone housing or even the ol’ “fish tank in the pool,” only to come back with lackluster images?

I know I have. But that was part of the learning curve, and there are different techniques needed for underwater photography that I have picked up over the years. Hopefully these pro-tips will get you started whether you are a new to photography or a pro making the transition to the underwater world.

This is something we don’t normally think about in our daily photography, but it is the most important. Make sure you are a good swimmer and are comfortable in the water. Safety must come first. If you don’t feel good about swimming without a camera, you are putting yourself in danger when you add a camera to the mix. You don’t want to be thinking about keeping your equipment safe or adjusting your camera settings when you should be focused on safety. If you are going into deep water, make sure you have experience with snorkel or scuba gear and that operating this equipment is second-nature for you. Learn to dive properly first! You can’t focus on buoyancy control, camera and strobe settings, and composition all at the same time, so you should have enough diving experience that you do the buoyancy control part automatically.

The best quality underwater photography is still pretty expensive. However, you can still get some decent images on a budget. On the low end, a GoPro can do a pretty good job as an entry into underwater photography. However, it is limited by the fact that there are no manual controls. Some “waterproof” point-and-shoot cameras can do a little better job, certainly the ones that have manual controls and that you put into a housing. The best option is to use a DSLR with a waterproof housing with strobes.

And then get closer! All those little particles in the water between you and your subject are called “backscatter,” and cause images to look less clear and more hazy, especially when light hits them. The closer you are to the subject, the fewer problems you will have with clarity and contrast. This means that most of the time you will be using a wide angle lens underwater. Telephoto lenses will not work very well shooting through a large volume of water.

Pro Tip: While you want to get close, do not chase the marine life. Doing so never got an underwater photographer anywhere except back on the surface, quickly, with a memory card full of bad shots. Be patient, set up your shot, and wait for the scene to develop. It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are; the fish are faster.

Water is nearly 800 times as dense as air, and it sucks out color from full spectrum light. Specific frequencies of ambient light get absorbed at different depths. Remember the mnemonic ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) from high school chemistry?

Underwater, red nearly disappears at around 5 meters (16.5 ft.), followed by orange at 10 meters (33 ft.), yellow at 20 meters (66 ft.), green at 30 meters (99 ft.) and eventually even blue at 60 meters (198 ft.). In other words, there are not many colors left at deeper depths. That’s why so many underwater images look blue and lack color contrast. The best solution is to add artificial lighting by using underwater strobes that will bring back color, create contrast, accentuate textures, and retain details that were lost from the water’s absorption of natural light. After purchasing a camera and housing, strobes are arguably the best investment you can make to improve your underwater photography.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have strobes, they miss-fire, or your subject is just too big, try black and white and boost the clarity & contrast!

The flexibility of RAW files will allow you to bring back some of the contrast and color to your photos. Also, there will be a blue cast to most of your images since many of the warmer red wavelengths don’t make it into deeper water. You can use RAW adjustments to help balance out the color spectrum.

Shooting around 1/125th will freeze motion underwater and still leave a good amount of ambient light in your scene. Move your shutter speed up a couple of stops to darken the background or down a couple of stops to have a lighter blue. Make sure you know what your camera’s sync speed is to avoid that annoying black bar from crossing your photo.

Beginning your underwater photography foray in “auto mode” is not a problem, but eventually you will want to start using manual controls. While “auto” or “program” works fine on land, those settings were designed for shooting in air, not water. Additionally, if you are using an external strobe, you will want to manually control your exposure, as your camera won’t be able to automatically balance the natural light in the scene with the additional light from the strobe. TTL can be a mixed bag and it’s not consistent underwater.

Pro Tip: Light is quickly lost the deeper you go, so you will want to bump up that ISO. With modern DSLRs ISO sensitivity isn’t much of a problem, and you can easily shoot at 400 or 800 with no noise.

Unlike topside photography, not all lenses are best suited for underwater use. Deciding which lenses are most useful actually goes back to rule number 3: the need to get close. Because you are forced to be in close proximity with your subject, you will need to use lenses with close minimum focus distances. This is why underwater photography is usually categorized into either macro or wide-angle, as the lenses that work best for shooting close are macro or extreme wide-angle lenses. Midrange zooms tend to have minimum focus distances that are too far for underwater photography, so you can leave that kit lens on land.

Underwater subjects look better when shooting them with a slight upward angle. The tendency to shoot down is a more natural one, as we are usually swimming with the reef below us, but images of the tops of most subjects shot this way are almost never appealing. By shooting up, you can include the water column in your image and can create necessary contrast between the foreground subject and the background.

Pro Tip: Try shooting with the sun behind your subject for a nice back light.

And use a big dome. A good split-shot is comprised of several elements: a strong topside scene, a strong underwater scene, and an interesting water line across the frame. The larger the dome port, the more surface area to create this water line. The big dome provides more room for the waterline to move up and down on the dome while still splitting the water. Shoot wide or with a fisheye, because you want to have plenty of room for both under water and topside scenery.

Don’t forget, shooting split-shots is similar to landscape and close-focus wide-angle photography in that you need a large depth of field in order to keep the entire image in focus. In most split-shot scenes, there’s an underwater subject, say a stingray, within a meter or two of the lens and also a topside subject that can be anywhere from three meters to hundreds of meters away. Stopping down to a low f-stop like f16 allows you to keep both scenes in focus, including the water’s surface just in front of the dome.

Pro Tip: The best split-shot will be unusable if blurred out by water droplets on the dome. My preferred method of keeping those drops off the dome is to use my custom mask antifog: baby shampoo.  That’s right, this is the good stuff. Putting a dab on the dome, rubbing it in, then dunking it a few times will help shed water and give you a few minutes to capture a spot-free image. In a pinch try licking your dome, it may be a little salty, but the photos will be sweet.

Remember, underwater photography is all about being safe and having fun. Taking pictures underwater is a completely unique experience, and by following a few of these tips you will be producing stunning images that your land-lubbing photography friends will drool over.

My last tip for the day something I tell every student, diver, and photographer: Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but bubbles.

You can see more of Dalton’s work at, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.