This summer while you’re out at the beach, you might want to take the time to try out some true underwater photography. There are many places where you can go snorkeling or go on a shallow open water SCUBA dive after a brief safety course. If you have a camera that is truly waterproof (not just water resistant) and is rated to go at least to a depth of 30 meters, then you should consider giving underwater photography a real try. You may need to look into renting or borrowing some additional gear — especially if you are going to be diving in open water and not a man-made structure like a swimming pool. However, the shots you can get from a dive can be truly memorable and can give you a chance to share with others a part of the world that covers 70% of our planet but which we have just barely begun to explore. These tips will be certain to help you take awesome underwater photos this summer!
1) Invest in lights
The world underwater is dark. The sun’s light does not penetrate very far beneath the surface. You’ll need to take your own light with you in order to keep your photos from looking too dark or too washed out. Strobes are the preferred light source of choice for underwater photography.
2) Get close to your subject
The lack of light means that you’ll need to be closer to your subject in order to capture it well. This includes fish and other animals. If you keep your movements calm, slow, and gentle, you should be able to keep from spooking them.
3) Pay Attention to Color and Composition
It’s easy to forget to remember that underwater photos need to have subjects and something in the foreground and background to catch the viewer’s attention. It’s also easy to forget to dial up the color slightly and to wind up with photos that are too washed-out or dark.
4) Check Your Camera Settings
You’ll want to make certain that you dial up the sharpness, get out of landscape mode and into portrait mode and shoot vertically, and don’t over-saturate the colors.
5) Invest in the Right Lens
Just because you have a super telephoto zoom lens that will let you shoot great photos of the moon does not mean it’s going to do the same thing underwater. There are many reasons for this — refraction, light, the properties of water itself — so spare yourself the headache of meddling with the wrong lens and instead opt for a wide-angle or macro lens.
6) Be prepared to spend time editing
Underwater photography does require a good bit more editing than normal photography. You will need to spend time tweaking your photos to increase the lighting, tone the colors, and enhance the sharpness a bit. You won’t be able to edit a terrible photo into a great one but you will be able to make a murky photo (and almost all underwater photos are murky, especially for a novice photographer) a good bit clearer.
Underwater photography is a fun way to explore Earth’s underwater world. We hope that these helpful tips will get you started in this area of photography and, if they do, that you’ll share those photos and experiences with us!