If you’ve come this far, looking for an introductory guide to underwater photography… It’s probably because you’re hallucinating what you see down there.
Somehow you feel the need to immortalize that memory of your dive but you have no idea about underwater photography.
You take the pictures with a lot of enthusiasm but when you look at them on the computer, you find that they have turned out blue and they are nothing like the spectacular images you usually see on the Internet.
In the end you come to the conclusion that taking good pictures is very difficult and extremely expensive.
We have good news, my friend… You are wrong, as wrong as we were a few years ago, and with this article we are going to prove it to you.
Today you will learn the basics of underwater photography. We are going to teach them to you without technicalities, with easy examples so that you can assimilate the information well, in a pleasant and amusing way. Get to the point!
If you are also passionate about underwater video, you can download this free guide with 20 tricks and 5 mistakes you shouldn’t make.
You and the aquatic camera.
Be comfortable in the water.
We don’t know what experience you have underwater but that already conditions the quality of your photos.
To start in the fantastic world of underwater photography, you have to start from the base that you have to have a good buoyancy and a good knowledge of the diving equipment. Or, have some experience in free diving in case you decide to photograph at will. Or simply know how to swim if you take pictures while snorkeling.
Let’s be honest, if during the dive you are more concerned about finding the trachea, getting neutral buoyancy at any depth or you are not yet comfortable in the water… You are hardly going to take a good picture.
More of the same if you decide to take a photo in apnea. Taking pictures at free air, unlike with a bottle, is that you go down several meters without air and stay on the bottom for a while until you get the desired image. This modality requires previous training.
The easiest option is to practice snorkeling, since it is not usual to go down to great depths. You just photograph from the surface or a few meters away, making small apneas.
But everything will come. The only thing you have to do before you start photographing the seabed is to get some experience so you can focus only on getting good shots.
Practice underwater photography, more.
What’s your underwater camera? A GoPro? A compact? A mobile phone with a casing? It doesn’t matter, whatever you’ve got will work as long as it’s designed for water. One thing must be clear to you, the important thing to take good pictures is not the camera you use, but who is behind it and handles it. In other words, the important thing is you and only you.
Many people have the mistaken belief that by buying the best camera on the market, they will be disappointed and when they pay an astronomical amount and do not achieve the expected results, they become frustrated and leave photography.
There are spectacular images taken with a Samsung mobile phone and authentic bazofias made with a full frame reflex camera.
You have to squeeze your camera partner, get all the juice out of it. Wear out the paint on the buttons from using it so much! And a very big help although it sounds like a topic, is to read the instruction manual to get all the performance possible from your machine. But remember that no matter how much you read the manual and our article, if you don’t apply what you have learned through practice, it won’t do you any good.
Remember that unless you practice snorkeling, you will need some experience in an aquatic environment, either with autonomous equipment or in apnea.
Get started in underwater photography with the automatic mode.
Many will tell you that to learn well about photography, you have to learn the manual mode, have a camera with this option and learn to handle everything yourself… Yes, but… no.
The good thing about shooting in automatic mode is that you don’t have to look at so many parameters and focus more on taking a good picture. For those starting out in photosub, the automatic mode is ideal. It’s less frustrating for when you start and more fun.
The downside is that sometimes the machine can’t guess the specific settings you want and you’re more limited. In manual mode, however, you control all the camera’s parameters. But it requires you to master more theoretical and practical concepts, which for a newcomer is complicated.
Using the machine one hundred percent manually is ideal and is what you have to aim for if you want to improve in the future. But it is not indispensable to do a good job and start learning now.
A large majority of users who have started in the world of underwater photography, have done it with a GoPro, an action camera or a compact camera in automatic mode. We don’t want to leave out those who don’t have a camera with the manual option.
If your camera has the manual option and you want to have full control of your captures, here is an article about the manual mode where we explain it in detail.
Now the important thing is that you focus on composing an image well, take it out of focus, frame it correctly and get the most realistic colors possible.
And to focus on these disciplines, the automatic mode is going to come in handy… let the machine work!
Peculiarities of underwater photography.
The main differences between conventional and underwater photography are the lack of light and that you are in a water environment.
Although the second one seems obvious, it is important to take it into account. You will need to have good underwater skills if you want to take good underwater pictures.
The light and the colors in the water.
With regard to light, the deeper we go, the less light penetrates the sea bed.
This directly affects how you see colors, which are absorbed as you descend. The first to disappear is red, then orange, then yellow and green. Until everything is a monochrome blue that gets progressively darker.
The only way to see colours at a certain depth is by adding artificial light or by taking pictures a few metres away, when there is still little absorption of colours.
That is why in underwater photography it is necessary to use certain accessories for the camera. To make the colours as true to reality as possible.