Dipping Your Toes into Underwater Photography

Posted on 23 June 2018


Looking for a basic guide to underwater photography? You’ve come to the right spot. Lakes and oceans are different worlds, but most of the photography terms and techniques you’re already aware of still apply. Here’s a few tips to help you dip your toes into underwater photography.

  • Get Comfortable Underwater
Photography is about patience. Underwater photography is all about feeling comfortable in the environment so you can be patient. Obviously this means being able to swim well. Experience scuba diving is also a plus, as it offers many advantages over snorkeling. You can spend more time closer to marine life for longer periods of time. Constantly surfacing and diving also tends to scare away marine life. That being said, the areas close to the surface have the best natural light so if you only know how to snorkel you can still accomplish a lot without much specialized equipment!

  • Understand Your Subject
Photography etiquette demands that you know, understand and respect your subject. Nowhere is this more true than in underwater photography. You need to know what areas are safe to shoot in, what animals are safe and how to react if you encounter an “unsafe” animal. Know how your depth affects colors. Reds, for instance, are filtered out first as you dive.

  • Choose the Right Gear
Choosing the right gear is a matter of being safe and having the correct photography gear. In terms of cameras, you have two basic options: a DSLR in an underwater housing with external strobes (what the pros use) or a point-and-shoot camera in a waterproof case. If you’re snorkeling and just starting out, the former option is likely to suffice. Even cell phone cameras can capture stunning underwater pictures. If you’re spending lots of money on scuba gear, travel, etc. then it may make sense to spend more on gear so you get the most bang for your buck.

  • Understand Your Camera Settings
Speaking of DSLRs, they come with more settings which in turn give you more control. Here are some basic settings that are likely to improve your underwater photography pictures:

– Keep your white balance in daylight mode, especially if you are using a flash.

– Set your ISO to between 100 to 200 (the deeper you go, the higher the ISO should be).

– Set your aperture to between f8 and f16.

– Your shutter speed should be between 1/125th or 1/250th if you want a clear shot or 1/15th or lower if you want to convey motion.

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