No matter whether GoPro, compact or DSLR camera, in the water as well as on land there are numerous ways to take better and more beautiful photos. In this blog post, I'm sharing my personal tips for better and more beautiful underwater photos that are easy to implement.
Tip 1: Step by Step
Get to know your camera on land first and in the dry. What possibilities do you have at all? How limited are you by the underwater housing? Which setting can't you change once you're in the water?
As soon as you are more familiar with your camera, it's time to get in the water. Take your time in a pool or in a calm bay to try out different settings and play with the modes.
↠ It is understandable that you want to document all your scuba diving adventures from now on. I can't help it either. However, I always plan some dives without my camera. Why? I often let the camera in my hand distract me or even dictate me and I experience diving differently.
Tip 2: Light
At a depth of only a few metres, a large part of the natural light is already lost – depending on the water, this is 50% in the first 3 metres. Even if we can hardly see it with our bare eyes, the camera's sensor immediately notices it.
If the subjects in the picture are to be crystal clear, external light sources are a must. This can be a simple underwater torch or even a cheap video light. If you are looking for even better results, then an external flash is essential.
Tip 3: Red Filter
Action cameras such as GoPros or many small compact cameras need little helpers in the water to turn the sea of blue tones into bright ones again. Red tones, in particular, disappear after only a few metres of depth. With so-called red filters, you can give the picture back a lot of the original colours. The small plastic filters are available in different shades for different depths.
Tip 4: RAW File Format
Newer GoPro versions (from Hero 5 Black), many compact and all larger system and DSLR cameras have the possibility to take pictures in RAW format. Make use of it, because it will become very handy for you during the image editing later.
Since I don't only edit my pictures with Adobe Lightroom, I take all my pictures in RAW and additionally as JPG. So after a dive, I can quickly download the pictures onto my mobile phone. When I get back to my laptop, I then play with the RAW files and edit them in more depth.
Tip 5: Magical Macro
Whales, sharks, turtles – it is unbelievable when you meet these creatures in the water. My great passion for underwater photography, however, is macro photography. My favourites: Nudibranchs! These colourful little animals are for me the unicorns of the seas. Besides, they barely move and as a diver, you'll have time to play with the settings to create a nice underwater photo.
Tip 6: Editing
Editing is an important step to create better and more beautiful underwater photos. Because even dark or blue-tinted pictures can be turned into really beautiful pictures with just the right tools.
Shortly after the dive I usually download some of my photos via WIFI from the camera to my mobile phone. There I first edit them with the Dive+ App. This app helps to bring back missing colours back into the picture in just one step. Every now and then I edit the pictures in another app, mostly Dive+ is enough for me.
On my laptop I use Adobe Lightroom for image editing. Thanks to the RAW files you can read a lot of image information in Lightroom.
The most important step is the white balance to restore the temperature of the picture. Then follow exposure, contrast, depth, clarity, …
Tip 7: Practice Makes Perfect
My first underwater photos were – to say the least – a catastrophe. I had expectations of my GoPro and Olympus that were simply not realistic. But with each dive, I knew better what I could ask from each camera and what would be working.
I'm always looking for tutorials and how-to's on YouTube to improve my skills in the water. Additionally, I can recommend you to attend a workshop on underwater photography. I spent a two-day course with Austrian underwater photographer Heinz Toperczer and tested the limits of my camera.
What are your tips for creating better and more beautiful underwater photos? Let me know your tricks in the comments below!
ps. pin me!