The Split Level photo (aka the Under/Over) is one of the more visually stunning forms of underwater photography. These types of photos never cease to amaze both divers and non-divers alike. Mainly this is due to a sense that these photos are very difficult to create. However, that idea is not actually true! Mastering the art of the split level photo is a lot easier than people think; here are a few helpful tips to get you started:
Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Split Level Photographs
Secure a stable platform in which to shoot; the best split level photos are the ones where you can wade into shallow water and stand on the sand to take the photo. (please do not stand on coral!)
Spit on the dome! Water droplets are the curse of the split-level photos and photographers are always trying to keep their domes clear. One of the easiest ways to do this is to spit on the dome and rub it around. Once this has been done you then dunk the camera below the surface before shooting. Typically, you can take 2 or 3 photos before water beading starts on the dome. Simply dunk again and take more photos. More spit should be applied once the beading starts to appear too quickly. Another great method is to keep half a potato to rub it on the lens, this will also keep water off. Try to avoid products such as RainX which can damage the port.
Don’t focus in the middle as this will mean the focus point is the water line and everything else will be out of focus. I prefer to focus on the land portion but you can also try focusing on the reef.
Use a very high F-Stop in order to retain as much of the scene in focus as possible, f-16 or f-22 are recommended for maximum depth of field.
Use a high shutter speed in order to keep the sky from over-exposing.
Don’t forget to try vertical as well as horizontal split photos.
Strobes can help illuminate the underwater portion of the photograph.
Try to keep the sun behind to help illuminate the scene.