Snorkeling is an adventure that is best when it is shared. One of the most amazing ways to share that adventure is with a camera or video that is designed for in water use. Underwater photos and videos provide a glimpse into a world that is filled with spectacular creatures and majestic landscapes which many have only seen in magazines or television. What makes it so special is that you were there to not only see it, but to experience it. These media memories are far more interesting to share with others than the common "Here's Ed standing by a palm tree" type. In order to create these memories it is important that you have the appropriate equipment to do so. For the purpose of this article the word "camera" is being used to represent all of the various forms of underwater visual media devices.
When researching cameras, you should be aware that there is a definite difference with regard to the words water resistant and waterproof. Water resistant refers to devices that are not affected when water is splashed on them as might happen during a rainstorm. Waterproof means that they can be submerged into a body of water. With this said, you should always choose waterproof versus water resistant. It should also be noted that all underwater cameras have depth ratings. The mere mention of underwater camera equipment to many may illicit thoughts of having to take out a loan but technology has progressed to a point where they have become quite affordable.
No matter what underwater camera you decide to use, make sure that you have read and have fully understood the directions for use prior to taking it in the water. Become familiar with what button does what. How to load and advance film or in the case of digital where the memory card goes. If you have a chance to try out the camera in a pool environment prior to your vacation, by all means do so. It will give you a better feel for the camera and help make you more confident. When you are ready to use your camera on your vacation be aware that it should be secured in a way so it will not end up at the bottom of the ocean. Use of either a wrist lanyard or a retractor is encouraged.
Use the following tips to be able to get the most enjoyment out of using a camera:
Task loading is a term used which describes doing too many things at one time. If it is your first time using snorkeling equipment, then you would be best advised to concentrate on becoming familiar and comfortable with its use before bringing a camera with you. Those who are engaging in other snorkeling activities such as spear fishing are also encouraged against bringing a camera along. Having too many external things to handle definitely detracts from the enjoyment of snorkeling in general.
Like a kid with a new toy, your inclination once you are in the water will be to take pictures of everything you see. As hard as it is, you must come to the realization that you can afford to be a bit selective. If you don't then your memory card or roll of film will be full well before you are finished with your adventure. This usually happens just before you see something that really is worth the shot.
Pay careful attention to the environment. Choppy water conditions can stir up the bottom composition which makes for cloudy results. In addition, while you may be tempted, do not grab a hold of or stand on corals in order to get that perfect shot. Coral is a living organism that is easily killed or damaged by actions such as these. In the case of marine life such as starfish, sea urchins and lobsters, while background may not be best at times, do not move them from their environment. It exposes them to predators.
Don't spend all of your time behind the viewfinder. With so much to see, you might miss a perfect shot and not even realize it.
Realize that fish do not know that you are trying to preserve their image for posterity. They don't know what a camera is and usually will not pose for you. Many people make the mistake of trying to chase after the fish. My only comment is to ask "What would you do if you had somebody bigger than you chasing you?" Chasing fish will result in overexertion and a lot of pictures or footage of fish tails and scenery.
Experienced underwater photographers have learned that minimizing their movements and taking their time while moving through the water often provide the best results for imaging.
Avoid taking pictures of objects that are farther than an arm's length away. The results in print photography will have you trying to guess what animal the dot in the picture really was.
Don't expect perfection. Many factors can affect the resulting imagery. Light, bottom composition, wave action are just a few of these. Researching underwater photography or even taking a course in it is helpful in understanding this.
Adding underwater photography or videography to your snorkeling adventure can truly enhance your snorkeling experience providing you with memories that will last a lifetime.