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Underwater Photography Essentials: Part 5



Tips, ideas and advice for budding underwater photographers

by Nick Robertson-Brown FRPS

Part 5: Composition – Baseline

When considering how to compose your image, it is important to consider the part of the picture that supports the subject – this is known as the baseline. Unless you are going to black out your background, the baseline will put the subject into perspective and this is particularly important in underwater photography, as many of the subjects are not animals or artefacts that are known to everybody.

Apart from super close-up macro shots, it often pays to present the subject in its environment and it is nearly always the case that the image will work better if you get the whole subject and baseline into the frame. There are times, of course, when this is difficult as you may not have the right lens on your camera, and changing lenses underwater is obviously not an option. You could of course change the angle or distance that you are shooting from to bring the whole subject into frame, but the more water there is between your camera and the subject, the less detail and light will be in your image.

It can sometimes be difficult to get the baseline set correctly and you may often find there is too much negative space either in the foreground or background, or even both. Whilst your subject may create a pleasing image, very often the subject itself can be lost in the environment. It is a case of balancing the subject against its environment, and the best way to do this is to capture several images of the same subject from different angles or by moving closer or further away. Modern cameras, with high ISOs and dynamic range, allow you to crop the image far more so than you would have done just a few years ago. However, less cropping will give better resolution so it is always best to take the image as you would want to present it. In many ways it is like telling a story; if you close in on the image too much, then you may miss out on showing why the subject is doing what it is.

Take a look at these images. The first one shows a diver with a torch, but there is no baseline, and therefore, there is no story. You cannot see what the diver is looking at or shining their torch on.


In the second image, the barrel sponge provides a baseline and also begins to tell the story. The diver is not simply hanging in midwater but shining a torch on to a subject.


The third image gives an even wider view of the reef the diver is exploring. Now it is a matter of personal taste and what story you are trying to tell.


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Nick bookDo you want to learn more? You can pick up a copy of Nick’s book “Underwater Photography Art & Techniques” by clicking here. For a signed copy, click here.

Underwater Photography Courses

Contact Nick for information on the Frogfish Photography Complete Underwater Photography Award, designed for 1:1 and small group sessions to improve your underwater photography at your pace.underwater photography

           |  | +44 (0)161 9177101


WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!



For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on (which you can read here), we reported that the Philippines have been recognised as the World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 27th World Travel Awards. In the article it states how many islands make up the Philippines… how many are there?

Is there:

  • A) 7,209
  • B) 7,532
  • C) 7,641

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Beuchat Air Light Bag December 2020

  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Beuchat and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to When prizes are supplied by third parties, is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 13/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Quick Scuba Tips #1: How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving (Watch Video)



How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving. Can’t I just take my new mask diving straight out of the box? Well, actually, no. It needs a little work to make it dive ready.

In this, the first in our new scuba diving quick hints and tips series, I’m going to show you how to prepare a new mask for scuba diving with three quick techniques, all aimed at stopping your scuba mask from fogging.

Yes, this link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Dive safe, dive often!


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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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