Coron, a hidden gem nestled in the Calamian Islands of Palawan, Philippines, is a top underwater photography destination for scuba divers and photography enthusiasts worldwide. Its World War II shipwrecks, teeming with marine life and shrouded in history, create an otherworldly underwater scene that begs to be captured. But translating this magic into stunning underwater photos requires more than just a camera and a dive certification.

This guide equips you with the essential tips and techniques to transform your underwater adventures in Busuanga Coron into breathtaking underwater photography.

Gearing Up for Success: Choosing the Right Equipment

  • Underwater Housing: A dedicated underwater camera housing is essential. It protects your camera from the corrosive effects of saltwater and allows for depth control. Choose a housing that’s compatible with your DSLR camera or mirrorless camera and shooting style.

  • Lens Selection: Wide-angle lenses are ideal for capturing the grandeur of the wrecks and the surrounding environment. Consider a macro lens for close-up shots of marine life or unique details on the wrecks.

  • Strobes and Lighting: Natural light is often limited underwater, especially when penetrating inside the wrecks. Investing in strobes or video lights will significantly improve your underwater photographs. Experiment with positioning and power settings to achieve balanced and dramatic lighting.

  • Essential Accessories: Spare batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning cloths, and a dive bag specifically designed for camera equipment ensure a smooth shooting experience.

Mastering the Underwater Environment: Setting the Stage for Great Shots

  • Dive Buoyancy: Precise buoyancy control is paramount. Even minor fin kicks can stir up silt, obscuring your subject and ruining your shot. Practice buoyancy control drills before venturing to the famous Coron wreck diving sites.

  • Composition is King: Just like in land photography, composition plays a crucial role in creating impactful underwater images. Utilize the rule of thirds, lead lines, and negative space to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject and create a sense of depth.

  • Shooting Angles: Experiment with different angles to add variety to your underwater photographs. Don’t just shoot straight on. Capture the wreck from below, showcasing its imposing silhouette. Swim through openings to capture unique perspectives from inside the wrecks.

  • Focus and Shutter Speed: Autofocus can struggle underwater. Switch to manual focus and practice focusing on your subject before taking the shot. Maintain a fast shutter speed to avoid blurry images caused by water movement or camera shake.

Shooting Like a Pro: Techniques for Breathtaking Results

  • Wide-Angle Wreckscapes: Capture the entire wreck by positioning yourself slightly away from it. Utilize wide-angle lenses and adjust your aperture for maximum depth of field, ensuring both the foreground and background are sharp. Utilize natural light sources like openings or shafts of sunlight filtering through the surface for a more dramatic effect.

  • Macro Magic: The wrecks are teeming with fascinating marine life. Get close with a macro lens to capture the intricate details of nudibranchs, shrimp, or coral formations. Use strobes with diffusers to achieve soft and even lighting for your close-up shots.

  • Silhouettes and Backlighting: Silhouettes can add drama and mystery to your photographs. Position yourself between the wreck and a light source, like the surface or a shaft of sunlight. Play with shutter speeds and exposure compensation to achieve the desired effect.

  • Schools of Fish: Schools of fish swirling around the wrecks create a mesmerizing spectacle. Use a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed to freeze their movement. Pan your camera while shooting to create a sense of motion blur for a dynamic effect.

  • Split Shots: This technique showcases both the underwater world and the surface in a single frame. Half the image features the wreck or marine life, while the other half showcases the tropical sky and boats above. Experiment with positioning yourself at the waterline to achieve a balanced split.

Respecting the Environment and Capturing Responsible Images

  • Practice Responsible Buoyancy: As mentioned before, maintaining good buoyancy control is crucial to avoid damaging the fragile coral reefs and marine life found around the Coron wrecks.

  • Minimize Torch Use: Minimize the use of your dive torches on marine life, especially those that are nocturnal or have sensitive eyes. Utilize natural light whenever possible.

  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings while focusing on photography. Avoid touching or disturbing the wrecks or marine life.

With the right preparation, technique, and respect for the environment, you can capture the magic of Busuanga Coron’s wrecks and share your underwater experiences with the world. So, pack your camera, hone your skills, and get ready to dive into the captivating realm of Coron’s underwater photography!

Special thanks to Quinn Kapuscinski for the photos.

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