scuba diver with camera


Taking a photo is as simple as clicking a button on a camera with a target object in range.

However, creating a beautiful photo is all about being creative, and extraordinary underwater photography is an art to be mastered.

Many scuba divers aspire to achieve that creative skill in underwater photography.

You can master the art by remembering a few technical and artistic aspects while photo diving.

What are they? Let’s take a look.

Panning and Shutter Speed

Panning is referred to as the horizontal movement of the camera while taking a picture.

While scuba diving we generally take photos of moving objects like fish, turtles, sharks etc. Learning panning techniques is essential to creating a perfect picture of the moving object.

Panning should be adjusted with the shutter speed. Slower shutter speed and faster panning generally makes the background of the picture blurred. You can intentionally slow down the shutter speed to attain a blurred background.

A digital camera with a mid-range zoom lens is perfectly suited to this technique. With a wider lens you will need to apply a slower shutter speed.

The shutter speed should vary between 1/5th - 1/15th of a second. In some high definition cameras there is a feature called aperture priority mode that helps determine the exact shutter speed needed for a particular object. This feature is amazing.

With a slow shutter speed and in the absence of panning, a moving object will show a trail of motion and the background will be sharp. You can then highlight the object using strobe.

Too advanced? Maybe you should start with our Uw Photo Beginner Guide

Picture Perfect Underwater Background

You'll need to keep the color of the background in mind and adjust the shutter speed accordingly. You generally get a blue background underwater which needs a slower shutter speed (1/20th - 1/60th) and a larger aperture to retain the background’s natural color.

Taking photos of reefs can be challenging, as blurriness is not suitable in this instance. Therefore, to portray the background correctly we need to combine both appropriate aperture and shutter speed. We can also send an external flash to reduce the scattering of light at the back.

Underwater photographer in Sardine Ball

Taking pictures of Sardine Bait Ball - Photo: Anqi Lim

Rear Curtain Sync

To achieve a trailed picture, we can set the flash to rear curtain sync, which provides a combination of both strobe and slow shutter speed. Practicing this technique will aid you in producing a perfect photo. However, this feature is not available with every model.

Learn How To Take That Perfect Manta Ray Picture

Special Effects

There are numerous other tricks with which we can create special effects like double exposure, shadowed pictures, making different pattern shots, color shots, texture shots etc.

You will be amazed to know how many ways there are to take pictures of fish eyes to make them appear more artistic.

Photoshop software is also available to provide additional special effects in order to put those creative touches to the photos once they are developed, but that’s a topic for another day.

In addition to receiving formal training for underwater photography, we need to develop a creative eye. Whether you have a high definition camera or a simple one, you can create extraordinarily beautiful photos. One thing to keep in mind: practice makes perfect.