Basic Underwater Photography Tips
These are the “traditional” underwater photography tips everyone should know. Get close to your subject – preferably within 12 inches. Water reduces color, contrast, and sharpness. Make sure your camera flash is turned on, preferable in “forced flash mode. ”For best composition – get low, shoot at an upwards angle, don’t center the subject, try to fill your frame with the subject. Don’t shoot “down” at the subject.
Make sure the subject’s eyes are in focus. Get your diving skills down before you start using a camera underwater. Practice topside with your camera inside the housing. Try taking close-ups of flowers and household objects. To minimise back scatter, an external strobe/flash and position it away from your underwater camera housing.
Set your camera to the highest resolution, and the lowest ISO possible to begin with. Use auto white-balance when using a flash/strobe, and custom white balance or underwater mode when not using a flash. Learn how to use manual mode or aperture priority mode if your camera offers it, so you control the balance between the natural light and the light from your flash.
If you are shooting with natural light, shoot in 20ft of water or less, with the sun behind you. For quickest focus, use spot focus mode. Learn how to focus on an area without taking a photo (pressing the shutter button halfway) and recomposing. if your underwater photos don’t look sharp, check to see which shutter speed was used, it should needs to be 1/30th for still objects, 1/60th for slow moving objects, and 1/125th of faster for faster moving fish. Most underwater photos can use an increase in contrast when post-processing your photos – but don’t overdo it.
Underwater Photography Tips for Underwater Compact Camera Users
Make sure you read the Beginner’s Guide to Underwater Photography Cover the front of the housing directly in front of the internal flash with duct tape when adding an external strobe that is optically fired, otherwise you will still get backscatter from the internal flash. Make sure you understand the focusing distance of your camera in and out of macro mode. Use macro mode when you are within the macro focusing distance.
If you use an external flash, make sure you place it as far away from your housing as possible, and your internal flash is blocked, in order to reduce backscatter. Bring a dive light with you to help your camera auto-focus. If you turn your flash off, either manual white-balance your camera, or set it to underwater mode. Don’t use digital zoom.
For people using only a compact camera and internal flash
The lower the visibility, the closer to the subject you must be to avoid backscatter. Avoid using the flash when shooting more than 3-4ft away for better colors in your underwater photos. When not using the flash, make sure you use manual white balance mode. When using the flash, make sure white balance is set to auto. Look into using wet lenses for a wider range of focal lengths.
More underwater photo tips
Get out and shoot. Find a place to dive near where you live. Share your photos, show them to your friends. Shoot in raw mode if possible. Anticipate what you might see underwater, adjust your strobe, f-stop ahead. It would be big mistake, to see a shark and having your camera at F22. If you find a good static background, look for a good foreground subject. If you find a good static foreground subject for wide-angle, wait for a good background to “swim by”.
Learn how to use your histogram and highlights screen, and use them often. Check photos UW for sharpness, by viewing at 100% magnification. Use a 100mm or 105mm lens to emphasize or isolate the subject, and reduce the background. Compose subjects parallel to the camera for close-up macro photography if possible, to get all of the subject in the focal plane. Get the exposure right in camera; don’t rely on post-processing.