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Prepare, keep it simple, relax! My best tips for underwater photography competitions

In August 2018 the Swedish championship in underwater photography took place at Hamburgsund on the Swedish west coast. Twelve finalists competed for the victory.
I had the honor to be one of them and I am so happy that I won in the four categories twice gold medal and once bronze. Becoming the new Swedish champion in underwater photography is an unbelievable feeling, especially considering beating all the fullframes with my Olympus equipment.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP02 • Sea&Sea YS-D2

During the 2 days and a total of four dives us photographers and our dive buddies took photos in four different disciplines: wide-angle, diver, macro and theme. This year’s theme was "transparency". Only small adjustments in Photoshop were allowed (white balance, contrast, saturation). Apart from that, we had to prove our talent without any further help.

It’s not easy to perform well on such a competition. The clock is constantly ticking you can easily get stressed and therefore not perform as well as normal. Below you can read my best tips to make it easier to perform during a stressful competition or a dive when your photos are really important.

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f3.5 Macro 
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP03 • Sea&Sea YS-D2

5 best tips to perform during a competition:

1. Prepare your equipment! The first step to perform well is to have your photo equipment in good shape. There is no room for mistakes that are caused by the equipment or rather the lack of its preparation, such as dust, or leaks. Cleaning the o-rings and polishing your lenses and underwater ports beforehand is an absolute essential.

2. Check your camera settings! Wrong settings can ruin the shot. I recommend to preset the settings before your dive, you won’t have time to do larger camera adjustments during the dive, I can promise you that. I often program and save my custom settings in C1,C2, C3.

3. Plan and Visualize! Together with your dive buddy you have to plan and visualize your dives.
You are a team, you can't win by yourself. So sit down, talk and plan together.

4. Keep it simple! Sometimes your plans are just too big, they might work well for another dive when you don’t have time limitations and the competition stress, but now the clock is ticking and you need more then one image to have a chance to win. I often try to keep it simple and rather try and fail than making to many plans.

5. Be flexible! The time is limited and sometimes it’s hard to find a specific subject. Therefore, I always try to be flexible. I often plan the subject size and lighting technique rather than a specific subject.

I really recommend everybody to participate in a photo competition. It is fun, challenging and you usually can learn a lot.

Wish everybody luck and success.

Yours Niklas

Gold Winner of the Macro Category

OM-D E-M1 Mark II • M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 Macro
• PT-EP14 • PPO-EP03 • Sea&Sea YS-D2


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