Home Photography Ideas: Pool Portraits
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The best child portraits usually happen when kids do something they love, rather than just being told to pose. Most kids love to be in the water, so the pool is a great place to get your camera out!
Underwater scenes can be wonderfully vibrant, with rich blue tones, shimmering bubbles, and eye-catching reflections on the surface, and then there are the dynamic poses – all made possible by the water.
The pool, however, can obviously be a dangerous place for cameras – so we need one of the best underwater camera housings you can afford. Many might think that underwater photography with a camera involves the use of expensive hard cases, but you can get great results with cheaper options like a waterproof soft bag made by Ewa-Marine. The camera is sealed in the bag and controlled through the material.
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There are plenty of other options for underwater photography, from the best waterproof cameras to the best underwater drones, and even the best GoPro and action cameras.
However, with a pure or mirrorless DSLR camera, you can achieve better image quality, faster focusing, and increased performance in low light. You can also configure your camera to capture the action with the right exposure settings, focus options, and focal length.
So, with a few inexpensive items and a few simple techniques, we’ll show you how to capture vivid portraits of your children underwater …
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Portraits in the swimming pool
01 Outdoor pools
Outdoor pools are ideal, as on a sunny day the light bounces around the walls and floor for portrait lighting. It helps if the pool is not too deep as it allows light to bounce off the ground and means we don’t have to step on the water while shooting.
02 Underwater camera bag
We used an Ewa-Marine waterproof camera bag – the lens sits in a cylindrical section on the front and the buttons and dials can be used through the material of the bag, although this can be awkward. So it is better to sort the settings before sealing the camera.
03 Test the water
It’s a good idea to check that the case is healthy each time you use it. Before putting the camera on, try some tissue paper, then close and submerge the bag. Squeeze it under water and check if there are any bubbles. If the fabric comes out dry, you’re good to go.
04 Use silica gel
Submarine hoses can fog up, so try placing them in a bag of silica gel. This will hopefully suck moisture out of the air and help keep the front lens element from fogging up when the bag is in the water. A hazy front element will spoil the fine details of your shots!
05 Start filming
When you’re ready to dunk the camera, give yourself and your subject a 3-2-1 countdown, take a dip, and start taking pictures. Due to the magnifying effect of water, you may need to step further away from your subject than you think.
06 Watch the expressions
Closed eyes and uncomfortable expressions can ruin any portrait, so ask the subject to try to look happy or make a face underwater. A few simple items like sunglasses or hats can add character to the portrait, as well as a splash of color.
Configure your camera
01 Try focusing with the back button
Pressing the shutter button halfway to engage autofocus can be quite tricky through the bag. Instead, if your camera allows it, try setting up the rear button focus. When this option is enabled, focus is enabled with the AF button on the back of the camera body.
02 Set a wide focal length
As you can see in the difference between the body and the head here, the water has a magnifying effect. As such, it is best to use a wide angle lens or the wide end of a standard zoom. Framing can be tricky underwater, so a wide field of view also gives you the flexibility to crop later.
03 Use a narrow opening
Focus may be less than accurate when shooting underwater – especially if your subject is moving towards you – so it’s best to use a narrow aperture as this will give you greater depth of field, which means your subject and scene are sharper.
04 Prevent motion blur
You’ll need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, especially if you plan on capturing jumps and splashes. We used the manual exposure mode with a shutter speed of 1/500 s in conjunction with an f / 11 aperture and Auto ISO (so the ISO would adapt to the conditions).
3 tips for taking a dip
01 Accessories and toys
Whether shooting underwater or any other type of child portrait, subject-specific props, toys or objects will help make the shot more personal and add extra interest to the portrait. . We brought some toys of underwater animals, like these octopuses.
02 try a jump
Asking children to jump from the side can cause bubbles to explode. It can be difficult to focus on exactly where they will enter the water, so try to pre-focus on a spot at about the same distance, then dive underwater and wait for the jump.
03 Look for reflections
At a right angle, the underside of the water’s surface can create beautiful abstract reflections of your subject. It is best to go down low to capture reflections and use a large focal length to include more of the surrounding pool.
Correct underwater colors
Fix blue casts with simple skills in Camera Raw or Lightroom
When shooting underwater, white balance and colors may be difficult to perfect in the camera. By taking pictures in Raw, however, we have the option of adjusting the white balance later, with exactly the same results as if we had done so before taking the picture.
To correct the blue casts that often affect underwater photos, use Camera Raw’s (or Lightroom) white balance eyedropper tool and click on a point that should be neutral, such as white clothing. Then continue to adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders until the colors are correct.
If the sky appears through water, correcting colors may distort those above water. If so, try painting with the Adjustment Brush tool loaded with negative temperature and tint.
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