Underwater Photography: Tips and Tricks for Beginners

The blue water universe has unimaginable things. Do you think of taking pictures underwater as something to be accomplished in your life?

There are a variety of photos that can be taken underwater, be it in the sea, in lakes, rivers or even in swimming pools. Shooting photos underwater in the sea, for example, is being immersed in another world with beautiful exotic animals, along with a very specific and charming charm flora.Aquatic Photography Tips for Beginners

Underwater photography requires specific techniques that you can learn by swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and buoyancy sessions.

Despite the low visibility that human vision has underwater and despite the instability of currents and tides of water streams, it is worth developing the practice of underwater photography. You can shoot very unique photos, such as underwater landscapes, for example. In swimming pools, you can also shoot unique photos by using the techniques of underwater photography.

Do you have a passion for photography and like to swim or dive? Great! In this post you will discover more about underwater photography, you will also get underwater photography tips and tricks to start shooting your own photos in this style of photography!

Let’s get started.

Underwater photography in a nutshell

There are three types of underwater photography:

  • Photos of sea fauna and flora
  • Portraits (photos with people) that record special moments
  • Advertising photos

Underwater landscape photos are an example of sea fauna and flora photography. Underwater portraits can be selfies and photos of other people that you take underwater to create unique and fun images.

And, as we know, advertising photography is the work that aims to promote, sell and raise awareness of a specific audience about something. As a result, many photos for this purpose are being taken underwater, especially those that want to make people aware of the importance of environmental preservation and highlight the beauty of the underwater world.

Gear to Use in Underwater Photography

Taking underwater photos requires knowledge, especially for photos in the sea. It is necessary to use some accessories. If you’re a beginner and would like to focus your underwater photography practice in sea waters, it would be interesting to take a course to learn the basics.

Also, there are some prerequisites (requirements) that you need to follow for taking underwater photos:

  • You need to have a good health attested by a doctor
  • You need to be able to swim about 200m in any style to ensure security when taking photos underwater
  • You need to be a certified diver (for photography in the sea and in natural water streams)

Underwater photography is considered a very special style of photography because it requires specialized techniques and equipment to be done in the best possible way. So now we will see which are the essential techniques and accessories you need for taking photos in any type or water: the sea, in natural water streams such as lakes and rivers or in swimming pools.

Understanding photo lighting

In water or in the air, the light is the basic element of any photo and it reaches your camera in different ways. It is important to know that every object or body seems to be enlarged or distorted when underwater.

That happens because they are affected by refraction, which is the way that light rays bend as they move from the air (outside water) to reach the camera lens underwater. Lighting is how you work with the natural right in the space where you are taking your photos, and it’s one of the main factors for getting great final results. Under water, it follows unique principles.

What Equipment You Need for Underwater Photography

The light in underwater environments causes slight distortions in the color saturation, which becomes more accentuated as the water depth increases. To correct that, a dive filter must be attached to your camera lens. Dive filters are usually colored in red and magenta to neutralize the color difference and keep your images under water 100% realistic without changing its quality.

Always choose to take your underwater photos during the day, in moments when the sunlight is more straight in relation to the water surface, which usually happens between 11 AM and 1 PM. That will guarantee you more illuminated environments for underwater photos of aquatic ecosystems, people swimming underwater and aquatic animals.

For swimming pool photos, the water quality must be considered. The light hits the camera lens in a different way than what our eyes see. A swimming pool with a lot of chlorine in its water may look very clear to human eyes, but your camera lens will capture a dense fog for. So, if your photos are very blurry, know that it may be due to the high density of chemicals present in the pool water.

Setting up your camera for underwater photos

For underwater photos, a basic setup in your camera can help with the image production. Other factors should also be taken into account: time of day and the presence of natural or artificial lighting. Then you should test out small setups to see which results better underwater photos.

Those are the features (parameters) in your camera that you can set up to improve your underwater photos:

White Balance

This feature usually appears as Daylight Mode or Automatic Mode in cameras. Those modes get a better result underwater because it keeps the natural bluish color tones of the water closer to what you see with your eyes. Other modes usually bring a lot of orange or pink, altering the natural perception of the image.


This feature determines how bright your photo will be. The lower the ISO, the better the lighting and sharpness of your photo, but this requires more light to shoot. If natural light is in your favor at the time of the photo, keep your camera ISO between 100 and 200. If it is cloudy or your camera is immersed in deeper waters, you will need to set your camera ISO above 200.

The rule is: for shooting scenes with a lot of light, you must decrease your camera ISO to get sharper and clearer photos, and for shooting scenes with less light, you must increase your camera ISO to get sharper and clearer photos.

How to Take Great Underwater Photos

Diaphragm (f)

For Mirrorless Cameras and DSLRs, the aperture of the diaphragm (f) is the feature on the camera that controls the entry of light in your photo. If you use the diaphragm aperture from f/8 to f/16, you will have sharp photos both out of the water and underwater. But you can also play with the blur effect. To do this, adjust the diaphragm aperture between f/2.8 and f/6 to apply an interesting blur effect, especially if you divide the lens in the middle of the water level (when you put your camera partially underwater and partially out of water to take a cool shot).

Autofocus (AF)

Most digital cameras today have autofocus (AF). Others have two types of autofocus: Single-Shot (sometimes called Single-Area) and Continuous AF. If your camera has both types of autofocus, it’s recommended that you use the Single-Shot mode for portraits, selfies and still objects and the Continuous AF for moving objects. But you can also try both autofocus modes as you like to see what results and effects you get, as there may be surprises, especially for underwater photography that is a unique style.

Using accessories to improve your underwater photos

Other than setting up your camera, be it a waterproof smartphone, a waterproof camera or an Action Camera, there are many accessories you can get to improve your photos even more and secure your camera:

Waterproof Case

Waterproof cases are accessories designed to protect underwater cameras from crashing and from fall damage. It is a case made of resistant material that wraps the entire camera and offers extra support to the extreme activities to which the camera can be subjected.

With this accessory, you can take your camera to greater water depths and take photos of underwater places such as cave dives.

What is Underwater Photography

Wide Angle Lens

Wide Angle Lenses are used to shoot large objects or environments with field depths that tend to infinity. They are usually Mirrorless Cameras or DSLRs, but there are Wide Angle Lenses for smartphones too, you just need to search on the Internet to make sure your phone supports this accessory.

Wide Angle Lenses make objects seem more distant than they are in reality. They are great for underwater photography because they do the opposite: Wide Angle Lenses reduce the distance between the focus object/subject of the photo and the camera lens.

When shooting underwater, you will probably want to decrease the amount of water between your camera and your photo’s focus object/subject, shooting as close as possible. Wide Angle Lenses are also widely used when there is poor visibility at the diving space as well.

Dome Port

The Dome Port is a round surface accessory that works connected to your camera. The purpose of this equipment is to separate the water line from the camera lens, making it possible to shoot two different worlds, the underwater world and the out-of-water world, both in the same photo.

Camera lenses are tiny in relation to the water and are only 1 cm away from it. With the help of a Dome Port, you gain about 7 cm or more depending on the Dome Port type and how many inches it has.

What’s next?

Great! You know a lot about underwater photography for beginners, how to equip your camera gear and the requirements to shoot aquatic photos in security!

You can read our Advantages Review of OCLU 4K Action Camera that takes underwater photos and records underwater videos in Full HD 1080p and in Ultra HD 4K! This might be a way to improve your underwater photography gear, as OCLU 4K has special accessories for aquatic photos, so don’t miss it!

Underwater Photography for Beginners

You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!

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