Black Water Photography: How to Capture like a Pro

In my last blog I mentioned that I had tried a new style of diving known as black water diving. It was a very unique style of diving that offered some photographic opportunities I had never thought of. Drifting in a gentle current at night time with a set up of bright lights brings in a range of juvenile fish that would other wise be almost impossible to find.

Plankton At Night

To start out you need the right conditions. A nice flat calm night with minimal wind and waves is ideal for a safe dive. As with all underwater photography try to time the dive when the vis is at its best and if you know local marine breeding seasons, time it for just after that so there will be plenty of small juvenile creatures.

Next you need the correct gear set up. We started with a buoy on the surface and 25m of rope weighted down at the bottom. There was a very bright light attached to the line at 25m and another at 15m as well as a small flashing light at 5m, but this was just to make the safety stop easier. There was also a light at the very top of the line just so the boat could see the buoy as we drifted at night time.

The purpose of the two main lights is to attract any curious juvenile marine life up from the deep while its feeding giving us a chance to find species that we would not normally get a chance to shoot. We did the first dive of this kind on Koh Tao and were very pleased with how many different species were spotted between the five of us diving.

You can try this anywhere with safe enough night conditions but should be used in water over 40m deep.

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