Underwater Photography - What You Need To Know :: Digital Photo Secrets

Underwater Photography - What You Need To Know

by David Peterson 1 comment

It’s an entirely different world, just like something out of a science fiction novel. There is so much to discover when you swim just a few feet under the surface of the ocean. It’s so jam packed with vibrant colors and exotic life that you’ll never look back.

Thankfully, the digital camera revolution has made underwater photography much easier. You can purchase a decent digital camera that can take underwater photos for about $50. That’s a steal! These cameras come with a waterproof housing and everything. Now you have no excuse to avoid getting into underwater photography. Here a few tips to help you get better at it.

Practice Makes Perfect

Professional photographers who travel to exotic locations spend a lot of time in the pool. They are busy figuring out which manual settings work for certain kinds of underwater photographs. Here’s the major takeaway: You might think you know how to use your camera when you’re on dry land, but you have no idea what obstacles you will face when you go underwater.

So, before you plan that trip, head over to your local recreation center. Take some plastic children’s toys with you and start experimenting. I know. It’s going to look a little silly, but it will help you get prepared for the real thing. Be aware that cameras aren’t allowed in all public places. Always ask and obey all posted signage.

Get Very Very Close To Your Subject

Water is much more dense than air. What does this mean for taking photos underwater? Allow me to put it into some fairly straightforward terms.

There’s a lot more “stuff” between you and your subjects. This “stuff” distorts the image. You’ve seen what a spoon looks like when you put it into a glass of water. Imagine that effect taken to a ridiculous extent.

To take good underwater photos, you need to get very very close to your subject. Many photographers end up shooting with a wideangle lens to fit the subject into the frame. This works because wideangle lenses take in more light from the outside edges. You can get really close, and your entire subject will be in the picture.

If you can afford a nicer underwater camera with the option to change lenses, try using a macro lens for small wildlife (starfishes and seahorses) and a wideangle lens for people and big animals. Be prepared to spend a lot of time practicing with the macro lens. You’ll need to get really close without losing your subject.

Dive When The Light Is Right

Remember what I just said about the density of water? Well, it also makes the underwater world much darker. You won’t be able to take the same bright photos at 8am. when you’re underwater. It’s best to limit your shooting time to the hours between 10am and 2pm.

Some of you will have enough money to purchase an underwater flash system, and if you can, that’s great. The best underwater photographers bring at least two flashes with them on their dives. The deeper they go, the more light they need. It gets very dark at the bottom.

Check The Seals On Your Equipment Frequently

Just because the manufacturer says your camera is waterproof doesn’t mean it is completely immune to leaks. The tiniest piece of sand can destroy your camera for good. That’s why you need to thoroughly clean your camera’s housing after every dive and photo shoot. It’s the only way to guarantee its safety.

Consider Doing Some Post-Processing In Photoshop

The underwater world tends to throw off your camera’s white balance. There are many more blues and greens than reds. We just finished a tutorial on adjusting the white balance after a photo has been taken. Read it, and you will find some handy tips for getting a more balanced photo.

Underwater photography can be very rewarding if you’re willing to put in some hours looking kind of silly at your local pool.


  1. Yvonne Day says:

    I fully agree with you, I am an avid scuba diver and love taking my camera along with me. I never tie with looking at the pictures, in actual fact I have a digital frame full of underwater pics.....MMM I Love It!!!

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