Top 10 Shark Photography Tips
What better way to remember your shark encounters than to record them on film? Here are our Top 10 shark-photography tips
1 Bait them
If you want to attract sharks, nothing works better than a potential meal. However, your don't want your view obscured by hundreds of hungry fish, so avoid using huge chunks of bait. Instead use chum (mashed up fish bits) and blood – most oceanic sharks will detect the blood in the water from up to 2km away and this will be more than enough to grab their attention. The chum should be introduced into the water slowly, a cup-full per minute. Alternatively, for reef-dwelling sharks a fishhead carefully hidden under some dead coral or a stone will have a suitably magnetic affect.
2 Head for the currents
One of the most likely places to find sharks is where the currents are the strongest. Water movement is at its briskest at oceanic pinnacles and at entrances to lagoons.
3 Protect yourself
Sharks can become very curious around anything white, so wear a black hood, gloves and suit and avoid carrying white equipment such as dive slates. With more aggressive species of sharks, such as the mako and great white, all diving should take place in cages, making for some fantastic but safe encounters.
4 Swim away
Although inquisitive, sharks are generally very timid creatures and if you swim towards them the chances are they will swim away leaving you with nothing more than a photograph of a tail. Swim away from sharks, however, and their inquisitive nature is likely to draw them towards you.
5 Avoid the surface
You are far better positioning yourself in mid-water or on the bottom rather than near the surface: some sharks will instinctively attack anything tat the surface that appears to be in distress, such a a swimmer thrashing through the water On the bottom you can orientate yourself far better and, by staying near to the reef with your back to it, you will be able to keep all the sharks in view and curb any attacks from behind
6 Choose your lens
A photographer's perception though the viewfinder is often that the shark is closer than it really is, caused by a combination of the excitement of seeing the shark and the magnifying qualities of the water. So, it is better to use a medium wide-angle lens 24-35mm (on 35mm format) rather than a wide-angle 15-20mm lens.
A shark coming towards a camera is visually highly dramatic. After all the the business end of the shark is obviously its mouth and teeth, Another potentially good shot is of a shark that is just starting to turn – this gives great quality of movement. Using a slightly slower shutter speed (1/30 of a second) to blur the background, and the flash to freeze the image, will enhance the sense of movement.
8 Film speed
Sharks look best with balanced light in order to capture blue rather than black backgrounds. Sharks move quickly so flash is required to freeze the image.
9 keep it natural
When shooting larger sharks, use natural light with fast film (ISO 400) setting as strobes or flash will not cover the entire animal.
10 be patient
Research places where sharks are known to be active and at what time of the day they are likely to appear and find out about the local tides and currents, Once you've found a good site return to it frequently and be prepared to wait and wait and wait...