SeaLife DC2000 How-To Photo Guide

with Tobias Friedrich

Tobias Friedrich started taking underwater photos in 2007.  Since then his images have been published in prestigious scuba diving magazines such as Sport Diver, Unterwasser, Tauchen, Scuba Diver, Through The Lens and many others.  In 2018 he won the coveted Underwater Photographer of the Year competition.   Tobias is always passionate for new challenges and up for new, creative ways in underwater photography.   Below, find some of his best images taken with the SeaLife DC2000 and Tobias’ advice on how to compose and capture the best shot in various underwater shooting scenarios. 

And keep in mind, with the DC2000, you don’t have to be a professional to get great results, simply follow these basic steps and you’ll capture some amazing photos.

Tobias Friedrich DC2000 SeaLife Underwater Cameras

Be Still, Move Gently and Slowly

Hawksbill Seaturtle
Elphinstone Reef, Egypt

One big advantage of compact cameras over big DSLR setups is that you can hold the camera easily into tiny spaces and still float above the reef to not disturb animals or touch corals. That close-up perspective was ideal to photograph the turtle while eating soft corals and not disturbing it. It was important to use the diffuser on the strobe to soften the light on the turtle and not to give it too hard of shadows.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/4, 1/100s

Using a Narrow Beam Angle

Dark-Shouldered Snake Eel  
Malapascua, Philippines

Light is one of the most important things in underwater photography. In this case I used the spot light of the Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam Light to get a spot just right on the eel. To make the effect even more dramatic I had the light in my left hand and formed the light with my fingers to get a more narrow beam. With subject close to the ground it’s also important to get the cameras perspective as low as possible as well.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/8, 1/320s

Tobias Friedrich DC2000 SeaLife Underwater Cameras
Silfra Crack - Tobias Friedrich

Shooting Large Areas

The Silfra Crack 
Silfra, Iceland

If you are in a situation with great visibility or near large structures like rocks or reefs, it’s always a good idea to include a diver into the image so that the viewer is able to compare sizes of the natural surroundings to a human being. This photo was taken with a DC2000 and no light in Dive Mode with the new 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens. The water’s absolute clarity adds to the tremendous size and depth of the image.

Equipment: Equipment: SeaLife DC20000.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: f/4, 1/30s, ISO400

How to Get Great Shark Images

School of Sharks
Fakarava, French Polynesia

Photographing sharks is easy when you know what to do. By taking a test shot and adjusting the camera to over or underexpose you can control the blue in the background. Afterwards focus on the ground or anything else in the same distance like the sharks, hold the shutter button half pressed and wait for the sharks to be in a nice position before you press the shutter completely. Removing the diffusor from the strobe helps the light to reach further through the water.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000
Settings: ISO125, f/4, 1/200s

School of Sharks - Tobias Friedrich
Nudibranch - Tobias Friedrich

How to Create Macro Lighting Effects

Nudibranch
Malapascua Island, The Philippines

For this Nudibranch I used the DC-Series Super Macro Lens to be able to get closer to the subject and to have it bigger in the frame. Additionally I used the Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam Light from the very left side on spot function and also formed the light with my fingers to give the nudibranch just a touch of light. The blue and red background lights are coming from my DSLR, which I placed on the sandy bottom, while shooting with the DC2000 camera. It gave a nice additional effect.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam, DC-Series Super Macro Lens
Settings: ISO 400, f/1.8, 1/30s

How to Get Best Colors

Vibrant Corals
Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea, Egypt

If you want to get good colors in your images, you need to be as close as possible to the corals so that the Sea Dragon Universal Flash can reach the subject and return to the camera. Red light can only travel up to five meters underwater – so if you are too far from the subject, your image will lack natural color. The SeaLife 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens is very important for images like this as it shortens the distance to the subject.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/4, 1/125s

Tobias Friedrich

How to Get Close Wide Angle Shots

Painted Frogfish 
Male Atoll, Maldives

Not only wide-angle scenes can be taken with the SeaLife 0.5x Wide Angle Dome lens, but also close-focus wide-angle shots like with this nicely sitting Painted Frogfish in a blue sponge.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/200s

How to Get Best Perspective

Nudibranch
Alam Batu, Indonesia

When photographing small subjects like this beautiful Bali Solar Powered nudibranch (Phyllodesmium iriomotense), try to get your perspective as low as possible. Then with a spot light or torch (In this case the spot feature on the Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam) also very low to the ground and facing up slightly, the light will touch the animal and create a beautiful lighting effect.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam, DC-Series Super Macro Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/4, 1/125s

Tobias Friedrich
Tobias Friedrich

Shoot Close, Crop Closer

Tiny Shrimp
Alam Batu, Indonesia

Even though you can get really close with the Super Macro Lens, the quality of the DC2000 is good enough to crop the image a little bit as well to make the smaller creatures appear larger.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, DC-Series Super Macro Lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/4, 1/100s

Show a Blue Background

Lionfish
Kubu, Indonesia

When taking underwater images like this, make sure that the subject floats over a nice background and that you are photographing slightly upwards to get as much blue water in the shot as possible.The diver in the background holding a dive torch makes the image perfect.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/4, 1/100s

Lionfish - Tobias Friedrich
Tobias Friedrich

Be Calm and Patient

Reef Scene
Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Photographing fish underwater is not always easy, as they are easily scared and just turn their back to the camera. The trick is to stay calm, approach very slowly and wait for the fish to return to the same place and get used to the diver and the camera. Do a test shot to get light and background blue correct, press the shutter half to focus and wait for a good moment and a nice formation for the actual photo. Try it again and again if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/200s

Shooting in Cold Water

Wolffish
Akureyri, Iceland

Taking images in cold water like Iceland isn’t always easy because most cameras can’t be controlled easily with gloves. Luckily the SeaLife DC2000 has large buttons and controls so even in these harsh conditions, you are in full control over the camera, especially in situations like this when a Wolffish comes really close.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/4, 1/125s

Tobias Friedrich
Tobias Friedrich

Check Camera Settings Beforehand

Sea Turtle
Kubu, Indonesia

When you approach the animals very slowly they will remain calm and stay put to photograph. In a situation like this you might still only have two to three photos to take before the animal disappears. So it’s recommended to have the settings of your camera set correctly and tested before you approach the animal. Take your test shots on an inanimate object with same or similar lighting conditions.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250s

Try New Lighting on Slow Animals

Scorpionfish
Malapascua, Philippines

Slow or non-moving sea creatures are predestined to test your lightning skills and experiment with your strobe. With light angle and intensity you can illuminate the parts of an image that are interesting and beautiful, like this Scorpionfish, and eliminate the unattractive background from the image.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam’s Spot Function
Settings: ISO 120, f/11, 1/100s

Tobias Friedrich
Tobias Friedrich

Wait for the Right Moment

Reef Scene
Bali, Indonesia

If you’re shooting a reef-scape, waiting for the right moment is important in composing a good photo. Usually fish disappear from the reef when divers are close, but they’ll come back in little time if you wait and stay calm. When a fish swims into the image, be ready and press the shutter button.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon Flash, 0.5x Wide Angle Dome Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/2.5, 1/125s

How to Shoot in RAW

Nudibranch
Bali, Indonesia

When you shoot in Super Macro Auto-Focus mode and set your camera to capture JPG + RAW images, you will have the original image in RAW format with the ability to crop and edit it to your liking using popular image editing software such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam, DC-Series Super Macro Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/8, 1/50s

Tobias Friedrich

Shooting Vertical Subjects

Seahorse
Kubu, Indonesia

When photographing vertical subjects, like this Seahorse, be sure to put your camera in portrait mode to be able to get as close as possible to the subject. That will result in the best quality image and preserve the intricate details of the creature.
 

Equipment: SeaLife DC2000, Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam, DC-Series Super Macro Lens
Settings: ISO 125, f/2.8, 1/320s