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Underwater Photography Tutorials: Essential Techniques

How to Photograph Beautiful Underwater Portraits

Underwater photography is perhaps one of the most complex arms of photography there is. Taking your camera beneath the waves opens up an entire new world to you, but it’s incredibly challenging to get great photos. The equipment is expensive, big, and very specialist. Then there’s the underwater photography techniques you have to employ, and they’re no walk in the park either! Luckily, we have a lot of underwater photography tutorials to help you, which you can find below.

1. Choosing the right equipment

Firstly, let’s look at the camera equipment you need for underwater photos. You’ll want to get yourself a camera housing, suitable camera, lens, port, strobes… the list goes on. However, you don’t necessarily need to bring too much with you. You can do things relatively simply if needed.

This underwater photography tutorial looks at the essential equipment for taking photos whilst scuba diving.

underwater photography tutorials

2. Lighting your underwater photos

One of the biggest things to learn about in underwater photography is lighting. That might be utilising natural light, artificial light, or a combination of the two. The deeper you go, the more washed out everything becomes.

Longer wavelengths of light cannot penetrate that far into the water as they are absorbed relatively quickly. The first to disappear is red, and this is why everything looks “dull” underwater until you introduce your own light source. This is why many professional underwater camera rigs have big strobes (flashes) attached to them. You have to be careful, though, as using artificial light can cause backscatter – the illumination of particulates in the water – that can ruin photos.

Here are some great tutorials for dealing with light underwater:

underwater lighting tutorial

3. Underwater macro photography tips

The underwater world really is incredible. Once you take that first breath underwater you’ll know that you are addicted. But don’t just look at all of the different fish; make sure you look closely and observe the little details.

Underwater macro photography allows you to photograph some of the very small organisms that you can easily miss. They are often spectacular, too, with incredible colourations and intricate patterns.

4. Creative underwater photography techniques

An always impressive shot is one that shows both topside and underwater in the same image. Known as “split-shots” or “over-under” photos, these images document the point at which these two worlds meet.

underwater photography tutorials

5. General underwater photography tutorials

Here are some more of our underwater photography tutorials that make for essential reading. These guides have a wealth of different tips that can quickly improve your shots.

underwater photography tutorials

6. Best places for underwater photography

So now you have the gear and the techniques, but where is the best place to go? We’ve got a great list of some of the best locations you can go to for underwater photography.

In conclusion

Are you an underwater photographer? What are the things that you find most difficult beneath the waves. Let us know in the comments. We’d also love to see some of your underwater photos, so don’t hesitate to share them with us!

Good luck out there – and stay safe!

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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