Tips for Taking Better Underwater Pictures

22 Aug 2016

We know, we know – taking good underwater pictures seems almost impossible. What is a vivid and bustling giri in real life, turns out all green, greyish or with a blue haze in your photos; the beautiful white leaf fish you spotted at Caves just won’t stand out; photos of your once-in-a-lifetime encounter with whitetip sharks at Christmas Rock look like you took pictures of a Christmas snowball.

Diving around Kuredu is one big adventure, and for you to be able to impress your friends with some good photographs to help them visualize just how epic your diving holiday was, Prodivers Maldives is happy to give out some secrets about you can step up your underwater photography game.

  • Get to know your camera on land first. Knowing where the on/off and shutter buttons are comes in handy in the event of a manta ray appearing out of the blue. Take the time to read the manual – and because you probably won’t, at least fiddle around with the camera and test the waters before you take it with you on an actual dive (or snorkel trip) for the first time.
  • Always, and possibly the night before the trip (tried and tested!), prepare your camera properly. Make sure the battery is fully charged and the memory card inserted and with available space. Put the O ring in place and make sure nothing compromises the seal. Don’t leave the camera behind in the room or the restaurant.
  • Now, let’s get technical. Check if your camera supports white balance settings. Point your camera at something you know is white and take a picture or press the appropriate button. The camera will adapt its perception of colours accordingly. Because light is absorbed differently at different depths, a white balance setting is only appropriate for around the depth it was set at. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor to give you a hand or explain you more about the science behind it.
  • To avoid getting backscatter (the ‘snow’ in your photos, caused by the light of the flash reflecting back off small organisms in the water), turn off the flash.
  • Get close to what you want to shoot – and then get closer! The closer you are, the clearer your subject will be, and the brighter the colors. Instead of zooming in, just move close! But use common sense, too, and don’t disrupt the marine life in any way. Apropos being considerate, watch your buoyancy and don’t forget that your most important buddy is a person, not your camera!
  • For best composition and light, get low, shoot at an upwards angle – don’t shoot down at the subject.
  • A lot can be done with post-processing, but the best thing to do is to try your best while taking the picture.
  • Get in front of the marine life. Fish bums are not considered the all-time favourite motif!

Mastering underwater photography takes a lot of time and patience. Given that you only have that much time on the island, it’s a good idea to prepare a bit in advance, ask our instructors for advice (you can also enroll in the Underwater Photographer Course), and go out diving a lot!