Effects of Using Macro Lens in Underwater Photography

The macro lens is probably the best lens you can use in underwater photography. If you're serious about shooting underwater, then you should invest in at least one and here's why.

How Light Behaves Underwater

Light behaves much differently in water than it does on land. Sunlight, which is your main light source, is composed of many different colors. The colors that are of a longer wavelength (red and orange) are quickly absorbed by the water, leaving everything else looking dark and blue. This makes shooting underwater difficult for photographers because objects that are a distance greater than a few feet appear colorless and indistinct. Depth does not have any effect on this at all. An object thirty feet away from you will appear indistinct, even if you both are under just a few feet of water. However, light penetrating the water from the surfaces decreases as depth increases.

Why Macro Lenses?

Because distance has so much influence on the quality of an underwater image, a photographer needs to get very close to his subject. The general rule is that any distance greater than three feet will result in lower quality images. Wide angle lenses are used by photographers because of the need to get so close. But, macro lenses are also used and look very nice.

Think about it. Macro photography is all about trying to reproduce an object without scaling it down. In macro photography, you use special lenses and get as close as possible to your subjects to create the effect. Underwater photography follows the same principals, although it's more out of need than artistic desire. But, macro and underwater photography are very similar.

Shallow Depth of Field

Another reason why macro lenses are so desirable in underwater photography is because they produce a very shallow depth of field. Part of what goes into making an image high quality is the use of depth of field. Depth of field refers to focus. Focus is not absolute. You may focus in on your subject to make them appear sharp, but an object a few feet behind them may look slightly blurry while an object ten feet behind that is a complete blur. Depth of field creates layers in a two dimensional medium.

Because so little distance is available to see in underwater photography, a shallow depth of field is needed to create this layered focus effect. Macro lenses produce that shallow effect, which is what makes them the best lens for the job.

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