If you are planning a scuba diving, snuba diving, or snorkeling trip in Maui, then of course you have to spring for an underwater camera to capture the experience. (Never heard of snuba diving before? Find out what it is!) Many touring companies will also allow you rent higher-quality underwater cameras so that you can take some awesome pics. Too often, however, underwater rookies make simple mistakes that ruin what could have been great photos.

Imagine seeing gorgeous manta rays, adorable sea turtles, and colorful fish…and only capturing blurry, dark, and unflattering photos of your amazing trip? Here are a few of the most common mistakes new underwater photographers make and how you can avoid them.

1. Taking Your Picture too Far Away

The number one mistake new underwater photographers make is to shoot too far away from their subject. Up on the surface, you can always compensate for this fault by zooming in on Photoshop. Underwater, however, the light is much weaker and colors degrade quickly even over short distances. To get a great shot, you need to be as close as possible to your subject. 

2. Trying to Chase Your Subject

So you want to get close to that moseying sea turtle, but what do you think is going to happen if you swim right toward it as fast as you can? In the ocean, big things swimming at you are usually predators. If your little turtle tries to skedaddle when he sees you coming, you’ll only make things worse by trying to chase him. Instead, adopt the measured, steady rhythm of the ocean. Slowly make your way to the subject, and don’t come directly on. Try to seem as peaceful and non-threatening as possible. 

3. Shooting Down

The farther down you go into the water, the more light and the more color you’ll lose from your shot, which is why it is usually a good idea to angle your camera upwards to take a shot. This will help you get more sunlight, which can offer great contrast for your subjects.

4. Antagonizing Your Subjects

Even though you want to get close to that bright and beautiful butterfly fish, you must always keep in mind that the first rule of a good observer is to “do no harm.” Do not try to chase, touch, or capture any living creatures. Touching or grabbing wild animals can injure them and will definitely stress them out. Be kind and be gentle. No photo is worth harming the subject.

5. Getting Antsy

We know that you want to take the best picture possible, but remember that you are underwater to have fun, not to snap the next cover of National Geographic. Make sure you look up from your camera so that you can truly enjoy the plethora of life and beauty around you. Relax. You may be amazed at how close creatures will get when you just stay still instead of trying to chase them around!

If you’re really worried about missing that perfect shot, many tour companies let you hire a professional photographer to take pictures and videos of your underwater trip. This will cost extra, but at least you can focus on just enjoying the experience instead of wowing your Instagram followers.

If you are renting a Maui vacation condo with Ali’i Resorts, give us a call for recommendations on companies that provide scuba diving, snuba diving, and snorkeling tours in South Maui.