Muck-Diving Tips & Techniques

Many of the best locations and opportunities for excellent underwater photography occurs while 'muck diving.'   What is 'muck diving'?  It is diving in an area where the bottom of the sea or lake is muddy, mucky, or misleadingly appears barren.  There may be a total absence of coral, there may not be rocks or wrecks, and the area might appear completely lifeless at first glance.  But be adivsed, these 'muck dives' often hide endless supply of photographers dreams.

We'd like to share just a few tips about 'muck diving' that may help you and your fellow divers.  These tips, and many more, are basic subject matter during Reef Photo & Video's three day macro photography workshops.

  • When swimming past other underwater photographers, try to swim past them on the down-current side.  This way, if you do stir up silt, it is less likely to be bothersome.

  • Bright focus lights and strobes can be stressful to marine life; many species do not have eyelids and will not show signs of stress. 

  • Try not to 'hog' the subject.  You might get that perfect photograph in a minute or two, or perhaps this isn't your day and spending an hour trying to get the picture only prevents others from enjoying that marine animal.

  • Test shots are part of any photographic endeavour.  A few well-executed test shots may eliminate dozens of 'hope I get lucky this time' shutter releases that are accompanied by those intense flashes of strobe light.

  • As Martin Edge states in his book "The Underwater Photographer," sometimes a subject happens to be in a place where you can not compose a good shot without harming some marine life.  Then it is time to move on and find another opportunity.

  • Consider using a 'muck stick.'  When properly used, a 'muck stick' can help you reduce your impact on marine life.

  • Not familiar with the dive site?  Consider hiring a local guide for your first dive or two.  You will likely find that it is money well spent.  Many divers recommend that you not bring your camera equipment on the first dive in an unfamiliar area.

Being a good underwater photographer requires more than practicing photographic technique; we also need to understand how we can affect the underwater life that we so much admire.  We would like to share this excellent five minute video with you, produced by Lembeh Resort in Indonesia.   Learn more about Lembeh Resort at

And remember; above all, the most important part of underwater photography is to monitor your gas supply!

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