How to do underwater photography

The underwater world is an exciting and often colorful place that many of us enjoy exploring at home and abroad. And combining that with photography is the perfect way to experience the fun of the coast while capturing eye-catching images that will add a new dimension to your vacation.

Whether you’re an experienced diver, someone who enjoys snorkeling on vacation, or you just can’t resist exploring the rock pools, there are underwater photography opportunities for you. everybody. The most important thing to remember is that the sea can be a dangerous place, so always dive, snorkel and swim in safe areas and never beyond your ability and experience.

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to explore the underwater world, it’s time to think about how you’re going to safely put your camera underwater. Several options are available. Here we’ll outline the most common ones, focusing on how to capture great results with point-and-shoot cameras and rugged GoPro cameras.

Rugged compact cameras are drop-proof and naturally waterproof to varying degrees. With a GoPro, you’ll need to purchase an inexpensive underwater housing separately. But either way, combine one of these with an underwater LED light and you’ll be well on your way to underwater success.

Underwater camera options

Use a compact and robust camera

Rugged point-and-shoot cameras are a popular option for vacations because they’re tough enough to withstand drops, while being waterproof to varying depths and resistant to sand. The best options for these cameras are made by Nikon and Olympus, and arguably offer the easiest and most effective way to take underwater photos.

The Olympus TG-6 can also be combined with an underwater housing with an attached flash, to allow you to go further.

Film with a GoPro

GoPro cameras are well known for their underwater capabilities and are a great option for underwater photography. The main camera itself will need to be placed in an underwater housing, available separately from the new HERO9 and HERO10 models.

And for best results, you can also purchase the PolarPro DiveMaster Filter Kit for the HERO10 and HERO9 Protective Case to correct the blue color cast that typically occurs underwater.

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Use a dedicated underwater housing

If you are serious about underwater photography and have a large budget, a dedicated underwater housing for a DSLR or mirrorless camera will provide the best image quality possible.

It is, however, a high-end option for professional underwater photographers and divers interested in underwater photography. These underwater housings can cost as much as a camera housing, so it’s a serious investment in addition to underwater LEDs or flash to illuminate subjects.

Try the Aquarium Trick

If you’re on a tight budget and want to use your standard DSLR, mirrorless, or compact camera underwater, the aquarium trick may be the option for you. This simply involves placing your camera in a small empty glass aquarium and partially submerging it underwater so the camera can see fully underwater, or a split-field image showing above and below. below the surface.

The aquarium option is safest in shallow water such as rock pools and rivers where there is no chance of a wave breaking the top of the aquarium.

The Challenges of Underwater Photography

Safety aside, the trickiest aspects of underwater photography are the lack of contrast, color casts that make things appear blue, and lighting. To combat them, it is best to shoot as close to the subjects as possible to reduce the amount of water between the camera and the subject. The same goes for depth: the shallower you are, the clearer the water will appear, and this will be the case from the surface down to around 1.5m.

Whether you’re shooting close to the surface or deeper, lighting is important. And while you can get reasonable results with natural light, an underwater LED is a great option for illuminating subjects. In an ideal world you would have two on either side of the camera attached to the arms, but one LED will work well and can be hand held to the side of the subject you are photographing. The camera’s built-in flash creates a problem known as backscatter, where particles in the water are illuminated by the flash.

How to Capture Underwater Footage with a Rugged Compact or GoPro

coral reef

©Getty Images

Use of a compact and robust camera

For best results, shoot in Raw format so you can process your images to perfection, with auto ISO sensitivity set to 100-400 and white balance set to Auto.

But if you’re unfamiliar with Raw processing, you can select Underwater Scene Mode to take JPEG photos instead. This will apply the best settings for underwater photography with increased contrast and saturation, as well as turning off the flash. Try to get as close as possible to the subject you are photographing to get more clarity in your images.

Filming with a GoPro

With a GoPro, select the Photo preset, customize the settings, and create a custom setting for underwater photography. Take photos with the zoom set to 1.0x with the minimum ISO at 100 and the maximum ISO at 400. Set the white balance to Auto and make sure the camera is set to capture an image at the times rather than in bursts.

Ideally, shoot in Raw format so you have more control over the images during processing, or shoot in JPEG format if you prefer processed images directly from the camera.

Get perfect lighting

You can purchase underwater LED lights and flashes specifically designed for use with compact and GoPro rugged cameras from camera manufacturers and third-party manufacturers. These are inexpensive and can be held next to the subject you are photographing, but out of view.

This will increase contrast, help achieve more natural colors, and most importantly, won’t create backscatter that will end up ruining your images. Remember, never use the camera flash.

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