How To Get The Most From Underwater Photos


Until a few years ago, the thought about underwater photography was something extraordinary to regular people who enjoy the seaside and photography on an amateur level. With the development of technology, the chance to capture amazing moments became available basically to anyone, even under the surface, so underwater photography has become one of the main summer attractions.

In this article, we’ll show you some tips and provide you with some guidelines so the next time you put on your diving wetsuit and enter the water with your waterproof camera in your hands, you’ll know exactly what to do to capture truly amazing and spectacular moments. And of course, a few dozens of those you’d erase as soon as you head back to the surface, but hey, we’re here to learn, so don’t be afraid to try out different things!

1. Safety, Safety, Safety!

To be able to bring back and show your masterpieces to the outside world, you’ll first have to get back to the surface safe and sound. This basically means you’ll have to be aware of your surroundings and what you’re after.

First of all, you’ll have to master the scuba diving skills before you think about giving your camera the chance to shine under the surface. You’ll have to learn how to control buoyancy, and the key is to learn how to get near your subject without alerting it, scaring it away, and in the worst-case scenario, provoking an attack that could injure both you and the fish. Hovering is also great when you want to take a picture of corals, sponges, or any other fragile creatures.

2. Start Simple

You may have seen some of the most amazing underwater photos and thought that it must have been made with the unbelievably expensive gear, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. You won’t need to spend too much money on a camera at first, all you need are a simple compact camera and waterproof housing to keep the water away from it. Later, when you figure everything out and learn the basics, you could choose one of the diving cameras we’ve suggested.

3. The Art Of The Right Lens

Choosing the right lens can bring the difference between a successful photo session and a nervous breakdown due to lack of quality. First, you’ll have to know what you want to shoot. For larger subjects, you’ll need a wide-angle lens, and vice versa, for smaller things you’ll need a macro lens. Don’t forget that the distortion is one of the water’s main features, so for a clear shot, you’ll have to get as near as possible to your subject.

Because you’ll have to keep your camera and lens in the underwater camera housing, this also means you won’t be able to change lenses, so before you start, make a plan and choose the lens accordingly.

4. Camera Settings

This one is completely up to you and your own preferences and desires. There is one thing you should think about, though. If you plan to capture live marine life, the subjects will most likely move rather fast, and you’ll have to add your own movement into the calculation. If there is a setting, set your camera on a fast-moving object setting.

5. Light

Light plays a massive role in photo quality, so it is important to learn how it works under the water surface. First of all, the water is one of the best red color filters and it will remove it more and more as you go deeper, with more blue coming up. To keep the colors of a subject as close as possible to its original, you’ll have to do one of the two following:

  • take a photo near the surface, if possible just beneath it
  • use external lightings like flash or strobe

If you go with the strobes, you’ll have to use a small aperture combined with the fast shutter speed. The result should be an impressive black background.

6. Inform Yourself About The Dive Site

Once you decide about the destination, it is time to gather as much information about it as possible. Ask around, if possible with some local photographers, but also any other diver will most likely help, what to expect, and some general information about it. You could also google the answers out, but it is better to ask in person.

7. Be Careful With Your Time


Underwater photography requires more time than most of the other types of photography because of the surroundings and the water effect.  That’s why you should be extra careful not to make any possible disastrous mistake. Take framing and all the other adjustments into consideration, also don’t forget that you’ll sometimes have to spend way more time than anticipated in working your way to obtain enough trust of the subject to capture something really amazing, so make sure you don’t run out of oxygen.

8. Subject Information

Most amateur underwater photographers will dive, take a few photos of whatever they can find, and head back to the surface thinking they’ve done something amazing. If you’re not one of those but would love to take a step forward, then it is time to revisit some Biology lessons. Once you know where you’re going, finding out what animals live there and how they behave won’t be too hard, which may give you a key advantage to create something really great. Also, this way you’ll learn whether an animal is safe or not and how to react if needed.

9. Your Comfort Is Important

It may not be one of the essential aspects, but staying in your comfort zone will make things exceptionally easier. That means you should always look to feel as good as possible when taking a photo in the means of physical experience. The best thing you could do is to buy a complete scuba diving gear package and a wetsuit, to keep you warm and safe. Fins will help you move faster, so you should add them to your list. Remember, the feeling of comfort will make you feel relaxed, which will make the whole experience not only more fun, but also way more pleasant and will help you concentrate better on your subject, so it is not an overstatement to say that the quality of the pictures is in direct correlation with your own comfort.

10. Try To Do Things On Your Own

You know all those suggestions, tips, tricks, etc. about cameras and photos you’ve read so far? Now disregard them, forget about them completely and start over. Of course, not forever, but for a time long enough to allow yourself to do everything on your own. The key is to find your own style and try taking photos the way you want it and love it, as uniquely as possible. Also, when speaking of the subject, you could learn a thing or two about copyright, so you learn how to protect your own creations.

11. Think Outside Of The Box

There are not so many places that offer you the chance to show your creativity on that scale. Simply, whatever you want to capture, do it, don’t think about it too much. The fact that the water serves as a great filter will give you the chance to get as creative as possible and, simply said, play with your camera and let your imagination do its work. And don’t think about the others. If you have an idea, chase it, no matter what, as long as you stay safe.

12. The Beauty Is In The Eye

Although sounds funny, most people tend to relate better with fish when they can clearly see the eyes and faces. If there is an option, try to catch it as well as you can. Otherwise, no matter how spectacular the rest of the photo, if the eyes of the fish are out of the focus, the result may not be as good as you’ve hoped.

13. Proper Angle

The best angles to shoot are a slight upward or level because of the light. You could also go with a slight down, and it should work well most of the time. The only angle you should avoid is straight down.

14. Rules And Regulations

 Before you head on for your dive with your camera, make sure you’ve learned all about the specific location rules and regulations. Same as with regular photography, some areas may have some kind of limitations or their rules could be different than usual whether temporary or permanently, so to avoid any possible conflicts or rule-breaking, it is the best option to ask the local authorities or scuba divers about those, if they do exist. If not, the ocean is completely yours to enjoy, discover, and eventually immortalize with your camera.

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This guide about underwater photography will help you understand it better so when the time comes to take the first step by pushing the right button under the surface, you know exactly what you want, how you want it, and how to get it. And, last but not the least, how to be satisfied with your work once the time comes for you to get back to your home and relieve the memories by looking at those pictures. And check our suggestions about the best sites for underwater photography, along with the article about many other underwater photography tips.

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  1. 5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Underwater Photos,
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!