Basic Underwater Photography

Everybody’s a photographer these days, thanks to digital technology, greater accessibility to gear and training. That being said, you can definitely stand out from the crowd with outstanding underwater photos. Over the next few weeks, we will go over a few tips and tricks to help you come up with that perfect frame and composition.

In this article, we will cover the basics and assume that you know the basics of diving.

Practice, practice, practice!

Set up your camera housing indoors or in a swimming pool, and practice your shots with the settings you intend to use during your dive. This will give you a fair idea of the output of your camera when you are taking underwater photos.

Get your basics right

This might seem obvious, but we have seen many instances of common sense being quite uncommon. Make sure your battery packs are full and your memory cards have enough space for the photographs you will take!

To flash, or not for underwater photos?

There are many instances where you will feel that flash is your best tool underwater, since the deeper you go, the less ambient light you will have. The best time to use flash is when you are very close to your subject – 2 or 3 feet, typically.  If you use flash for subjects further away, you might suffer from backscatter – where the light from your flash bounces off the particles in water and shows up as white dots across your underwater photograph. These are very difficult to remove during post processing, and we would recommend that you avoid flash for subjects beyond 3 feet, unless you are shooting in exceptionally clear water.

Have a camera with built in red filters for diving, like the Sealife cameras, helps fill in the red color that drops out when diving without lights or strobes.  If you look to dive one of the Go Pro models, you will want to add one of the Polar Pro filters to add that red color.

Compact cameras are your best friend!

Many compact cameras have “underwater modes” that have settings to enable pro-level photographs from the get-go.  You will then be able to take wide angle shots for underwater landscapes as well as fast moving subjects like marine life.  You will also be able to take macro mode photographs, speaking of which…

Dial M for Macro

The deeper you go, the close you need to get to your subject, so that back scatter is minimized. You will need to know the range of your macro mode – this is typically a distance up to 2 feet. Preferably, get as close to your subject, and don’t zoom in. This will improve the quality of your underwater photos dramatically.

These are the basic things you should keep in mind when planning an for underwater photos with compact cameras. We will write about using flash and DSLRs in future blog posts.  Check out our range of camera housings, and feel free to tell us about your favorite camera models in the comments! The team here at DRIS are here to help!