Underwater Photography Tips and Tricks

underwater photography classes

Underwater photography is not an easy category of photography. One needs to be an expert diver, comfortable with scuba diving equipment and should also know the basic tricks of photography. Here are some tips and tricks.

Practice in a Pool

A close up of a dirty field

Before attempting underwater photography in the ocean, where the water is unpredictable, try taking images in a pool. You will need a specialty underwater housing. Most of the popular point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras have available plastic cases which seal in the camera and the lens. These are watertight, and are essential to protect your equipment. Keep a polarizer filter attached as this reduces flare and unwanted reflections from the water.

Catch the Action

A woman swimming in a pool of water

Practice holding yourself underwater for longer periods of time and holding the camera steady. Use a low ISO setting to get a fine grained image and a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second or more. You can use on-camera flash when shooting in a pool to freeze the action. Wear goggles if you can’t keep your eyes open underwater and try to capture a fun portrait with the person swimming or floating in the water.

Split Underwater Photos

The major technical challenge faced by photographers while taking a split over the water and underwater photo is that the exposure value of the image above the surface is often different from the one under it. This occurs due to refraction under the water, which affects the overall focus of the above water segment. However, this can be overcome by using specialized “split diopter filters” designed to compensate for this problem.

Keep it Steady

To keep a camera steady underwater is a challenge for anyone, because water is always moving. It helps to practice snorkeling, and be comfortable with the water before attempting to take images underwater. You need to be able to stay still in the water even when fish or other creatures come to investigate you. Don’t be afraid to use a friend or a rock to stabilize your body so you can hold the camera still, though holding the camera with one hand is not recommended.


When taking photos underwater you will need to use a specialist underwater flashgun called a strobe. These will be sold at the same place you buy your housing; a conventional flash will not have the power to travel through murky sea/ocean water so you need a strobe. Set your ISO as low as possible as the low light conditions will give grainy images; choose ISO 50 or 25 if this is an option on your camera.

Zoom in for Details

Macro photography when underwater can be used to obtain some stunning images. Use a macro lens (usually 50mm – 200mm) to be able to focus on subjects that are inches or centimeters away. It’s worth photographing the underwater images in RAW format, because it is best for images that you want to use color correction software later. Images in RAW format will still retain good quality after going through the color correction process.


Underwater photography is a great challenge and it can be expensive. However, if you want to pursue this as a hobby, you will need the correct equipment. Be patient and persistent. Don’t forget about composition rules and focal points just because you are underwater! Practice changing the settings on your camera underwater too. You can practice when you are snorkeling or diving in the pool. Finally, don’t be afraid to take your time. The unique shots will be worth it in the end!

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