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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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Photography, underwater photography, mermaid, user feature, Instagram,

Diving Deep with Real-Life Mermaid @hannahmermaid

To keep up with Hannah’s underwater adventures, follow @hannahmermaid on Instagram.

Mermaid model Hannah Fraser (@hannahmermaid) doesn’t just have a passion for deep water, she considers the ocean to be her workspace. Outside coming face-to-face with whales, manta rays or even sharks, the most challenging part of her job is staying calm and maintaining a natural appearance while underwater. “I need to slow my heartbeat down by mentally relaxing, going into a meditative state where I am not thinking about anything other than where I am and the feeling of being comfortable and at one with the underwater world. This is especially important if I am swimming with wild animals.”

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Photography, Animals, Black and White, Oceans, shark week, scuba diving, underwater photography, how i shoot, User Feature, Instagram,

How I Shoot: Underwater Shark Photography with @michaelmuller7

For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about their creative process. To see more of Michael’s photos from his shark expeditions, follow @michaelmuller7 and follow @discoverychannel as Michael takes over Discovery Channel’s Instagram account during Shark Week.

Michael Muller (@michaelmuller7) is on a mission to change the way we see sharks. “They are in a lot of trouble right now,” he says. “100 million are slaughtered every year, and I say slaughter because the majority of the time the shark is killed just for its fins.”

In his day job, Michael is a Hollywood-based commercial photographer renowned for his celebrity portraits and images used in box office billboards. But when he has free time, Michael devotes himself to documenting sharks in their native habitat around the world. He has even created an underwater strobe lighting system as powerful as the one in his California studio. “Realizing that I couldn’t bring the shark into the studio, I knew I would have to bring the studio to it,” he says.

The key to successful underwater shark photography, according to Michael, is staying relaxed. “Anxiety is the biggest obstacle,” he says. “If you let negative thoughts take hold then you are in for a really rough time.”

Michael uses Instagram to share images of his encounters in the deep. Here he tells us more about his process during and after his underwater excursions:

Equipment:

Phase One medium format with Nauticam, Nikon D800 with Subal Housing, Red Epic Dragon, GoPro and a “list of scuba equipment too long to enumerate.”

Vantage Point:

Because Michael rarely shoots from insides shark cages, he works closely with a team to be in the best position possible. “I have to constantly anticipate where the animal may go or do. What we look for always is what we call a ‘player,’which is a shark that is very mellow and curious that will stay around us. It is with sharks like this that magic happens.”

Shooting:

“It’s all about waiting for that right ‘moment’ to hit the trigger, which comes from 28 years experience. If you get too excited and go too fast then you miss that moment. If you wait too long you watch it happen and have the shot in your head, but no one else ever gets to witness it, so timing is everything.“

Editing:

Depending on the length of the shoot, Michael will return with between 3,000-10,000 photos. “I keep every image I take, I get rid of blank images but keep everything else,” he says. “With Instagram I usually post between 4-8 images from a particular trip.” For processing tools, Michael uses his own custom filters app MullerPhoto, and also the newest Instagram creative tools. “There are times I just go right into Instagram and just use its tools which are really getting more and more phenomenal.”

Photo Tips: Underwater Photography

tips, underwater photography,

Whether on a tropical vacation, a quick trip to the local beach, or someone’s backyard pool, summertime is quickly approaching along with the iPhone’s worst enemy — water. We’ve all heard, seen, or experienced what happens when the iPhone and water mix, but with a waterproof case you won’t have to abandon your iPhone on your beach towel anymore!

Cases

There are two types of waterproof cases for Apple devices: underwater housing or a waterproof bag. While the housing option is the more expensive choice, it not only provides a better sense of security for your iPhone, it often takes photos that are more clear than the bag case.

 LifeProof iPhone Case ($79.99)

 TAT7 iPhone ScubaCase ($84.95)

 DiCAPac for iPhone ($24.95

 OverBoard Waterproof iPhone Case ($29.95)

Tips

  • Focus on your subject: This can be tricky when your touch-screen device is inside of a bulky case while underwater. If you’re having trouble with focus or exposure, try to utilize the Auto Focus & Auto Exposure feature on the default camera while above the surface. If the touch screen isn’t responding in a case underwater, you can use an application with a timer, like Gorrilacam (free), which will allow you to start a timer above the surface as long as 90 seconds, as well as a time lapse of up to 10,000 shots.
  • Utilize available light: Since the flash on your camera may not be usable as fill light while inside of a case, try to find a spot where the light hits objects best underwater, or even try shooting your subject from below in order to create beautiful silhouettes.
  • Patience: That perfect shot will present itself if you’re willing to wait for it. When trying to photograph the moment someone enters the water, a wave right when it’s breaking, or even a school of fish, you’ll have to be patient and ready to capture at any moment.
  • Before you go into the ocean, practice in a pool: This is the perfect place to observe and overcome common obstacles while attempting to take underwater photographs. Do you have a hard time focusing on a moving subject? Do you find yourself dropping your device often? Perhaps it’s difficult for you to utilize available light. Whatever your underwater weakness is, it’s best to focus all of your attention on perfecting your techniques in a controlled environment.

Photos by joelvodell, izzyl, chriscastanho, aquajunkie, colerise & marksurfsbig.