Splitlevel shots are, at least for me, without any doubt the most attractive imagery one can produce. They can have a huge impact by highlighting things that are above and below the surface. Hard coral gardens are unfortunately getting harder and harder to find these days. During my last years trip to the beautiful island of Halmahera I was able to see some absolutely cracking hard corals gardens that reached up to the surface. I was looking for a shot of local fishermam above and a beautiful coral reef for years and during the surface interval of one of the dives with Sali Bay Resort magic unfolded out of nowhere. I just had finished the dive, peeled myself out of my wetsuit, started to shoot some topside images and realized that the shot I‘ve been waiting for was just coming around the corner…. I tried to sort my very basic Bahasa Indonesia and started to yell „Pelan, pelan!“ (slow down, slow down) at these wonderful villagers…. Seconds later I jumped into the water and tried to keep up with them… Quite a few liters of saltwater later I was happy that I got the shots I wanted for years and the villagers are most probably still laughing about me. This shot was created at aprox. 11 a.m. which gave me a lot of natural light and I just needed some fill light of my strobes for the corals. The key part of this photograph was not just capturing the beautiful and colourful coral, but also having the villagers in the frame and achieving this with a decent depth of field.
This style of photograph is actually not too difficult to achieve, there are only a few things that you need to keep in mind: spit on your dome port to avoid too many waterdrops, stop down as much as you can, use a high shutter speed and shoot high frame rates.
Shot with a Canon 1 Dx Mark II , Canon 8-15 mm lens, in a SEACAM housing, @ f22, 1/200, ISO 800