They say that getting the perfect shot involves getting up close to your subject. If you want to get an amazing shot of the ocean, the same idea applies. Split shots are great because they capture the beauty both above and below the surface – all in the same frame. These shots can be incredibly tricky, but if done correctly you will have an amazing shot that captures a view of both worlds. Obviously the first thing that you will need is a camera with waterproof housing to ensure you don’t ruin your camera or lenses, but the rest is just as important.
The dome port you use will make this shot or ruin it. A good split shot will involve a beautiful scene above the surface with a sharp underwater image below and a water line running through the frame. You will want to use a large dome in order to capture a larger scene that can focus on a wider subject without losing focus in the foreground or background. A large dome will also help if you are trying to get an even water line in the ocean since it will help make rolling waves appear in straight lines. This will help you control whether you want an image that has waves that are serene or savage looking.
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The lens you use for your shot will most definitely need to be a wide-angle lens or a fisheye. A wide angle lens will help separate the distance between the foreground and background of the image and still allow you to have a greater depth of field. This will help draw people in to your photo. A fisheye lens has a curved surface much like the eye of a fish. This allows the lens to redirect the light from becoming refracted to the point it is distorted. Above the surface, fish eye lens usually make for an interesting and slightly distorted shot. In you split shot, is will help make your water really stand out as the light will be properly refracted through the lens.
The settings of your camera will need to be adjusted to get the shot you need. Water shots can get really washed out from all of the light and color around you, so you will want to take the time to get your settings just right. Don’t settle for shooting on automatic. Change your F-stop, ISO, and shutter speed to get everything in focus and properly exposed. If you are using a DSLR, you may want to use a dipped filter to help bring more color into the image. If you are using a GoPro, see about getting a few gopro camera filters to help undo any color distortion below the surface.
After you follow these steps, all you need is a little practice and experience to get split shots down. Where this really is such a tricky shot to get, it is recommended that you start out by getting plenty of practice shooting exclusively below the surface to understand the coloring and lighting. After you have mastered that, you will be able to take a split shot like it’s nothing.