Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Underwater Photography Competition Tips

We love Top 10 lists! Really, who doesn't!?

Here's a cool list of the top 10 tips for consideration when entering underwater photography competitions, courtesy of our friends over at Dive Photo Guide.

1) You have to be in it to win it: Competitions are great forums to push your photography to the next level. But you’ll never know where you fare unless you enter. Your friends and family will always be your biggest fans and will tell you that your work is fantastic. Competing against your peers is a great way of pushing yourself to always do better. There are many local, international and online competitions with deadlines pretty much every month throughout the year.

2) Enter images in the right categories: Very often images that may have otherwise done well in competition in the proper category are entered into the wrong categories. With little exception, organizers and judges don’t have the time to re-categorize images. Maximize your chances of placing by entering into the right categories in the first place. For example, each macro or wide angle shot of animal behavior would require a subjective decision on your part on whether the behavior category or macro/wide angle categories would be best. Ask yourself what the overriding feel of the image conveys, is it the behavior or the subject? In addition, if you’re still working on honing your skills don’t be embarrassed to enter novice categories if they are available for you to compete in.

3) Lighting: Proper lighting makes or breaks images. Think twice about entering over or under exposed images. Exposure does not need to be absolutely perfect if the image is still striking – for example an image of a very unique or rare subject or behavior. But if the subject is less than unique, the lighting better be damn near perfect.

4) Composition: With so many underwater images being created every year, there are a lot of great images out there. Good composition is the key to a pleasing image. Think about image flow – following the basic rule of thirds will be a good starting point. Often a diagonal flow creates a pleasing composition. A good use of negative space always helps as well. Ensure that you are not cutting out fins or tails unless that is part of the composition that you are going for. Additionally, make sure that there is good contrast between the foreground subject and the background, very often this is the biggest mistake of underwater photographers.

5) The eyes have it: Sharp focus on the eyes of the primary subjects is paramount. A lack of sharpness on the eyes of a subject will normally result in lower rankings in any competition.

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