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.
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.
Dark-Shouldered Snake Eel
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.
The Silfra Crack
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Settings: ISO 125, f/2.5, 1/320s
Super Macro mode gives you the opportunity to get really close to the animals and to be able to see all of their tiny details. The quality of the DC2000 is good enough to crop the image afterwards to even get closer to the subject.
Having clean images with nothing that distracts from the main subject is important in wildlife photography. In this case this giant Frogfish was sitting under a rock with a nasty background behind it. To be able to mask the Frogfish and to get a clean, black background I used the spot function of the Sea Dragon 2100 Dual Beam Light so that the light only hits the fish and not the background.
Settings: ISO 125, f/9, 1/200s
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Trying to shoot a simply composed image with shapes and objects usually results in a pleasing result for the viewer, like this image with a spherical coral head and two little fish above it.
If you get to photograph wrecks try to work with diagonals to make the wreck fit in the image nicely. You can also just work with sunlight, but always go with the light (sun in the back) to make the colors come out. The shallower, the better, for ambient light shots.
Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt