Martin Edge Photo Clinic

In the Frame

Martyn Gough of Richmond , Surrey , took this picture of a gorgonian and diver on a trip to St Lucia at the end of last year.

Martins verdict:

If this is the picture which Martyn wanted to take, he has done well. The red coral is colourful and well exposed. The blue water forms a pleasant background as it graduates from light blue near the surface todark blue at the bottom and to the side. A vertical format suits the subject. For me, I would have preferred to have seen the diver isolated from the coral and completely surrounded by blue water. As it was, the decals on his or her suit and other details visible through the coral were a distraction.

Starting Orders

Q. I want to take up underwater photography. What camera should I buy. Are the disposable ones any good? Mary Thomson, Peterborough.

A. If you are not already into land photography buy a simple, cheap camera and see whether you like taking pictures underwater before you spend a lot of money on really expensive equipment. I have heard good reports from divers using disposable waterproof cameras in clear, well-lit waters. Both Kodak and Fuji make them.

If you must risk it and take them below their recommended depth chose the Fuji version where you press a lever to take a picture. Apparently the button on the Kodak model gets pushed down by the water pressure and then you can't take any more pictures, but would be your own fault for exceeded recommended depths.

There are also modestly priced housings which will take ordinary disposable cameras - the type which don't like getting wet - or standard compact cameras. Further up the price scale, Sea & Sea market two amphibious cameras. They have a small, built-in flashgun and there are also more powerful strobes which fit on the side to extend their versatility. They produce good results, especially in tropical waters.

If you are thinking in this price bracket, you could also consider a second-hand Nikonos and flashgun but make sure you get them serviced by a reputable and experienced underwater specialist before you take them underwater. Do this as a condition before you even buy the equipment. It might save you from an expensive mistake. Second-hand underwater cameras might look mint on the outside but they need to be stripped down and checked to make sure they have not been damaged internally by a flood.

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