Underwater photography is a unique photographic genre that often requires the use of scuba gear, but can also be done while swimming, snorkeling, in an underwater vehicle, or by using automated cameras. While underwater imaging requires lots of specialized equipment and techniques, the payoff is worth it. Underwater photographers have access to many amazing subjects, including fish and other marine life, cave systems, shipwrecks, aquascapes, diver portraits, and more.
Achieving proper lighting is one of the primary challenges underwater photographers face. Even in crystal clear water, light levels drop off significantly starting at just five feet deep because most of the light reflects off the water’s surface. In addition to light loss, the white balance of the ambient light becomes increasingly blue as you descend, which diminishes the vivid colors of your subjects. For these reasons, you should use flash if taking pictures at depths greater than five feet. It’s also very important to get as close to your subject as possible to reduce the amount of backscatter (small water particles) and white-balance issues in your photos. Other considerations include the direction of the lighting, the best time of day to shoot, and what specific lighting gear you need for your shoot. For more information, read Learn to Light Underwater. To view lighting products, check out the Underwater Lights & Strobes page.
There are many different camera options for underwater photography. For casual shooters or those who want a one-time solution, check out the Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof Disposable Camera. For more serious shooters, we stock lots of underwater housings that can transform your everyday point-and-shoot, SLR, or mirrorless camera into an underwater camera.
If you’re snorkeling or shooting in shallow water, you can use more affordable waterproof pouches that resemble heavy-duty zip-lock bags with glass lens portals. Some pouches can go as deep as 30 feet. If you’re shooting in deeper water, you need a hard-shell housing to protect your camera. Hard-shell housings are specifically made for certain camera models so that you can control your camera’s exposure and functions with ease.
The majority of underwater photographs are taken while scuba diving, so being a certified scuba diver is a good idea. Displaying good diving technique also improves the quality of the images, since a calm, skilled diver will not disturb marine life or the environment as much as an inexperienced diver.
If you want to take your underwater photography to the next level, B&H has the equipment and know-how to get you there. Please contact us if you have any questions.