Underwater photography on a budget

Underwater photography on a budget

Raise your hand if you are like me and you just love underwater photographs.

I mean y’all, it is Texas over here. It is hot, it is humid, it is just not fun to be outside unless you are in some kind of water!

For some of you lucky folks, that means a trip outside to your gorgeous backyard pool. But for the rest of us, our backyards lack the sparkling waters of an in-ground pool.

Womp womp! There go our dreams of those beautiful underwater images.

No way! I am here to share how you can still make refreshing summer photo opportunities happen WITHOUT an in-ground pool oasis.

The sprinkler

I am old school when it comes to a lot of my parenting skills. I especially love to let the kids run through the sprinkler. There is something about pulling the water hose out in the yard, setting it up in the middle, and turning it on feeling those first few drops of chilled water that takes me right back to my own 1980s childhood.

Get the light right

We set our sprinkler up either in the mornings or evenings. I mean, if you are going to get everything all set up for the kids you might as well set it up during beautiful light! Right?

Protect your gear

If you are going to go in close to photograph your kids running through the spinklers while using a wide angle lens, the first thing you need to think about is gear safety. Last summer I  purchased the DiCaPac. I love not worrying about being up close to the kids as they splash around.

Take a step back

A longer lens is a great tool to have when photographing kids in the sprinkler. I am able to stand back from the action and let my kiddos be as crazy as they please while still getting shots that make it feel like I am right in the middle of the fun. Even better, the compression of the longer lens makes for picture perfect sprinkler fun.

Pick the right sprinkler

While any sprinkler will work for some photo magic, I would recommend getting one that the kids can run over for the best results. When I started I got the cheap-y plastic sprinkler with the multiple dials and the regular old fashion oscillating sprinkler. While I loved the way the water sprayed with the different dials, I didn’t love the way that the plastic parts were rough on their feet as they tried to leap over the water. Upgrading to a better sprinkler still allowed for backyard fun and photo opportunities without as many stubbed toes and boo boos.

Related: 10 inexpensive tools to make your summer photos shine

The above ground pool

We do have a neighborhood pool, but this year the kids asked for an above ground pool. And I can’t blame them! There is something really nice about having all the fun right in your own back yard to enjoy at a moments notice. After a particularly hot day of yard work this past week, we all jumped straight into the pool, clothes and all!

I was worried that the above ground pool might not make under water images as glorious as the ones that I have grown to love. But I quickly learned that underwater magic can happen in any kind of pool whether it’s in ground or above!

Go for the GoPro

I LOVE my GoPro for underwater photography. Y’all this little machine is fantastic. I set to it to RAW for maximum editing capabilities and go to town. It’s small, user-friendly, and a powerful piece of equipment.

Consider a dome attachment

A dome makes all the difference when paired with the GoPro. I purchased mine a few summers ago and love having the ability to get over/underwater shots in addition to just underwater.

Let the moments happen

I don’t want to interfere with the kids playing but sometimes I use gentle directions to get my shot. I might ask them to swim to me or jump in or something simple like that to get them in the frame while still enjoying themselves.

Related: Capture all your summer memories in photographs

Keep your distance

A long lens is also a great tool to have at the pool as well as for the sprinkler. My daughter had one of her bffs over the other day and they were in the pool for hours! When the sun began to set behind the house I saw that beautiful golden light and knew I had to capture their end-of-the-day play.

I tossed on my 85mm and observed from a distance. With this longer lens on I was able to stay on the patio and keep a safe distance from the jumps, splashes, and dolphin kicks coming from the kids while also taking advantage of the light.

Adding water into the process can transform the way you shoot. Not only do you have to be careful with your gear, but there is an entire new element that you must take into consideration!

Water can be a great storyteller if you sit back and watch it. When I was first starting out I would create this perfect image in my head and try to make it in reality. This could often lead to unnecessary stress behind the camera.

I finally learned that I could get the images that I wanted if I stepped out of the way and let the moments happen naturally. As storytellers we can guide the circumstances of our stories, but we don’t have to control every detail.

I let the kids go out every night to swim when the sun is perfectly setting behind our house.

We have pushed dinner back to enjoy a run through the sprinklers.

I can ask for the best cannonball EVER!

I have learned that I can set-up opportunities, but then I have to sit back and wait for the moments to happen. Sometimes they aren’t the perfect way I had made up in my head, but they are perfect nonetheless.

I hope y’all enjoy your own backyards this summer. I know we will be enjoying ours!

About the Author:

Kristina McCaleb is a mother of two and firefighter wife in Dallas, TX. She loves to use what is around her to capture the lives of kids. Visit Kristina McCaleb online.
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5 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Jul 23 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Great tips and wonderful water fun images!!

  2. Gloria Guerrero Jul 23 2018 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    These images are fantastic! You’re so talented. My favorite is the one of your daughter in the sprinklers, I love the emotion in her face. I have to admit I’d be terrified to put my camera in the DiCAPac case and go in the water.

  3. Nicole Martin Jul 23 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Great read! So true about setting up a moment but letting everything happen naturally.

  4. Lorena Jul 24 2018 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    She is an awesome photographer and mother. I love her work. Way to go Kristi.

  5. Christopher Hall Jul 27 2018 at 12:06 am - Reply

    I had a session similar to this a while back. We just got the hose out and watched what happened. So much fun.

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